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As parents take on the role of part-time teachers, many parents are looking for guidance. We talked to Katz JCC’s Donna Snyder and Susie Shavelson to get tips for teaching the kids at home.

 

Don’t forget: your kids do have a gym class

One aspect of schooling that parents often forget is to keep the kids moving. Snyder recommends parents choose at least one activity every day that involves some kind of physical activity – especially if it includes going outside.

 

Schedule, then stick to it

While it won’t be possible to recreate the exact schedule of school while at home, Snyder, who’s director of Early Childhood and Family Engagement at Katz JCC, recommends trying to keep a routine as similar to school’s as possible. Order and consistency are important for younger kids who are learning. Even if the schedule shifts a bit – snack time is half an hour later or nap time is delayed 20 minutes because an activity is super fun – keeping to that general structure is key.

 

Ok wait, maybe some things can change

While structure is important, the pressure of sticking to a schedule can sometimes cause more stress, which you definitely don’t want. The best thing you can do to keep everyone happy, says Snyder, is to be flexible. “As long as they’re having a good time and getting the gist of the activity, the exact rules don’t really matter.”

Snyder recommends giving your kids some wiggle room when it comes to planned activities. If they want to change the rules of a game a bit, make a solo project a group activity or add a fun, imaginative aspect, Snyder says to let it ride.

 

Text another mom or dad – a lot

People aren’t kidding when they say raising a child takes a village – and it’s no different when it comes to teaching your kids at home. Shavelson, associate director of early childhood at Katz JCC, suggests leaning on your mom and dad friends for activity ideas or even a break from the duties of homeschooling.

Schedule a weekly virtual happy hour to talk about how things have been going and what you’re most looking forward to when this has passed, or create a text chain where everyone can share fun and educational activities they’ve tried with the kids.

 

Go for a run. Take a bath. Read a book.

Both Snyder and Shavelson have heard many parents comment, “I never wanted to be a teacher,” since starting to homeschool – and they totally get it. It’s important to be kind to yourself and not put too much pressure on sticking to the schedule or the success of activities. As Snyder puts it, parents need to “be kind to yourself.”

It’s also important to stay sane through this time, and one way to help is by giving yourself some “me time,” says Snyder. Pour yourself a glass of wine at the end of the day, pick up that book you’ve been meaning to start or even fit in a quick workout.

 

Enjoy the time with your kids (really)

The biggest piece of advice Snyder and Shavelson have for parents is simple: Take advantage of the chance to spend time with your kids.

While they know hard times are ahead, and homeschooling can have its stressful moments, they also recommend taking lots of pictures to help remember the positive moments with your family.

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