10 Ways to Make Homeschooling Fun During COVID
by Kerry Cordy
As “two weeks to flatten the curve” has become long term rotating lockdowns and stay at home orders, many schools across the nation have gone to online distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom has become the new classroom. The teacher teaches, the students listen and attempt to absorb, but in distance learning there is little room for creativity and fun. The teachers do their best, but it is difficult to get kids to participate and engage through a computer screen. Whether your child is participating in remote distance learning or you are a homeschool family operating independent of any school at at all, these ideas should help you find joy in the learning process.
1. Get Physical
Studies have shown that physical action helps the brain absorb and retain information. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “evidence suggests that increasing physical activity and physical fitness may improve academic performance and that time in the school day dedicated to recess, physical education class, and physical activity in the classroom may also facilitate academic performance. Available evidence suggests that mathematics and reading are the academic topics that are most influenced by physical activity. ”
During the pandemic many kids are not getting the chance to “get the wiggles out” as my daughter puts it. Kids need to move. They need “recess” even if you are schooling from home. Make your kids get away from their screens and go outside. Run, jump, ride a bike or climb a tree. If the weather is bad and you are forced to stay indoors, create an obstacle course throughout your house and make the kids go over chairs, under tables, through cardboard boxes or anything else you can think of. My girls loved horses, so we used some recycled cardboard tubes from JoAnn Fabrics to create an indoor horse jump. They would canter around the room and over the jump for indoor recess. Do whatever it takes to get your children moving.
2. Earn Badges
Earning badges through Curiosity Untamed gives your child an incentive to learn and explore and we have thousands of options. Whether you use the badges to supplement what they are already learning in school such as Pioneers or Biology, or let them choose their own badges like Zombie Apocalypse or Chocolate, badges help to make learning fun and rewarding. If you are learning about Pioneers in school, our Pioneer badge will encourage you to try making a corn husk doll or a pioneer era recipe in addition to other ideas for making this knowledge personal. When badges are completed, they are a wonderful memento not only of what you learned, but the fun you had learning it. Whether you use our pin badges and display them on a jacket, tote bag or wall banner, or our magnet badges to display on the fridge or a whiteboard, badges give the kids a sense of accomplishment and act as a reward for all of their effort. You can even make a scrapbook and use our free printable certificates if you don’t wish to purchase the actual badges.
3. Let Your Curiosity Run Untamed
The world is a fascinating place and the more you learn, the more your curiosity will send you down new and interesting paths. Encourage your kids to ask questions and then go find the answers. My favorite story of this is the day my children learned about the Ugli fruit. We had found one at the grocery store and they wanted to know what it was so we bought it. If you have never had one, they taste like a delicious blend of a grapefruit and an orange. Of course while we ate it, my kids wanted to know why it was called an Ugli fruit. We found out that technically they were Jamaican Tangelos and the Ugli Fruit was actually the name given by the company that sold them. Then more questions emerged, “Where do they grow?” “What’s a Tangelo?” “Why do they only grow in Jamaica?” Instead of just saying, “I don’t know,” the kids and I headed for the computer and spent a fun afternoon exploring everything we could find about the Ugli fruit. In one afternoon of passionate questions, my children learned about geography, weather, agriculture and more. Take the time to indulge your children’s curiosity.
4. Play Games
Turn learning into a game. Whether you play an educational video game, create your own board game, or make up an action game of some kind, games make learning fun. Get creative. For example, if your child needs to practice their multiplication facts, instead of making them sit down and memorize them, turn them into a game. Write numbers on index cards and then throw them all over the floor. Have your child stand on one and then yell out a math problem like “4×5” and have them jump to the card that says “20”. (Carpet works best for this game as cards can be slippery on slick floors so be careful.) Or use the cards like stepping stones and if they want to reach the “10” card they can only step on cards that add up to it such as the “6” and the “4” to get there.
5. Sing Songs
Remember School House Rock? (Maybe I am showing my age here…) Learning through song is not only fun, but music helps information stick in your brain. Songs such as those produced by School House Rock taught everything from basic grammar to how a bill becomes a law. A study by Petr Janata found that “music serves as a potent trigger for retrieving memories.” Ever wondered why it’s easier to memorize the lyrics to a song than the periodic table of elements? That’s because your brain looks for patterns to better understand, recall, and process information. Learning through song not only makes school more fun, but actually helps your kids remember and recall the information as well.
6. Get Messy
What’s more fun than getting messy? Get hands on with science experiments that make bubbles or change colors. Do your spelling or handwriting practice using chocolate pudding or shaving cream on a plate or cookie sheet. Dig in the dirt and create your own archaeology pit or make a mud puddle and learn about viscosity based on how much water you use.
7. Build Things
Are you learning about native Americans? Build a life size teepee out of broomsticks or cardboard tubes and some old sheets. Learning about power? Build a diorama of a power plant. Learning about the industrial revolution or automation? Try building a Rube Goldberg machine. Building things based on what you are learning about helps kids to visualize how what they are learning can be put into practice in the real world. Studies suggest that building things helps children develop
- motor skills and hand-eye coordination,
- spatial reasoning,
- cognitive flexibility,
- language skills,
- a capacity for creative, divergent thinking,
- social competence, and
- engineering skills.
8. Find Ways to Connect with Friends
The hardest part about the pandemic is not being able to connect with your friends. Even those who homeschool full time have sports, park days, clubs and classes that have all been put on hold during the various shut downs caused by COVID-19. Find creative ways to stay in touch with friends even if you are not allowed to physically interact with them. Chalk happy thoughts and pictures onto your friend’s driveway. Have a drive by birthday parade. Go old school and become pen-pals with your friends and send letters and drawings through the mail.
9. Take a Field Trip
While places like museums and aquariums may be currently shut down in your area due to the pandemic, there are still plenty of educational places to go visit where you can stay outdoors and keep a social distance. If you live near the coast, take a field trip to go look at tide pools. Live near a forest? Go take a hike and learn about the local wildflowers. Live in the City, how about a walking tour of the historic district? Do you live in agricultural country? Go visit a farm or dairy. Many people never bother to go see the sights in their own backyard. What is near your home that you have never seen before?
10. Make Scrapbooks or Lap Books
Learning should include making great memories so find fun and creative ways to document them. Take pictures of projects you create, games you play, places you visit, and build a homeschool scrapbook. If you have never made lap books before, these are fun and creative ways to learn a wide variety of materials. Made from simple file folders and printables, they are easy and inexpensive projects that also act as great keepsakes of what you have learned. Try combining lapbooks with photos of your kids doing the activities to combine scrapbooking and lapbooking into one project such as the one in the image above. Having your kids journal and write notes in their scrapbooks or lapbooks is another way to preserve memories during this time. Homeschool Helper Online has a wide variety of free printable lapbooks for you to choose from.
Our web pages may provide recommendations and/or links to other digital and/or non-digital resources for the convenience of users. Curiosity Untamed LLC is not responsible for the availability or content of these external sources, nor does Curiosity Untamed LLC endorse, warrant, or guarantee the products, services, or information described or offered at these other digital and/or non-digital resources. Use these resources at your own risk and with a parent’s permission.