2020 has been difficult in many arenas and parents of school-age children have faced very hard choices when it comes to education. The choices between in-person learning, distance learning, hybrid learning, or full homeschooling come with a wide range of factors to consider. More parents than ever before are choosing to keep their kids at home for most, if not all, of their schooling this year. If you are a parent and find yourself schooling your kids from home, either full-time or part-time, you are not alone!
We’ve put together a few tips, science-focused activities, and resources that will help you navigate the waters of schooling from home and assist you in teaching your kids about sustainability and climate change.
Tips for Homeschooling Success
The school year has begun but that doesn’t mean everything is set in stone yet. That can be a good thing! Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility! There is no one size fits all approach when schooling from home. Staying open to customization for what you and your kids need to stay happy and productive is key.
Here are a few tips to consider as you continue:
- Does your child have a comfortable and inviting workspace for their schoolwork? Whether it’s a desk or a small table, it’s important to have a space that has everything they need to complete their daily tasks. It’s also an opportunity for personalization and creativity for your child.
- Do you have a schedule that works for both you and your child? A benefit of working from home and schooling from home is customizing your schedule. Working with your child to develop a sense of ownership of their time will empower them to learn more freely.
- Does the schedule include dedicated quiet time/free time and creative playtime for necessary mental recharges? Take advantage of the extra time cut out of the day when getting ready, commutes, and maneuvering between classes are removed by encouraging more mental space throughout the day.
- Remember to be patient with yourself and your kids. This is a significant change for both parents and kids. It will take time and adjustments before you find the right routine and feel “normal.”
- Do your lesson plans encourage your child’s natural curiosities? Homeschooling provides a unique opportunity to tailor the educational experience to your child’s passions!
DIY Home Science Activities
A beneficial perk to schooling inside the home is the ability to create fun hands-on experiments together and help learning come alive! We’ve put together some science-based activity resources to help teach your kids about climate change and the importance of protecting our environment.
- Start an indoor garden to build a path for environmental stewardship. For tips on how to get started and why check out, “The Plant-Air Quality Myth and the Benefits of an Indoor Garden.”
- Visit NASA’s Climate Kids page with your children. This website has interactive lessons on climate change as well as games, activities, and more!
- Do simple science experiments together such as measuring the air quality inside vs outside using only white index cards, petroleum jelly, cotton swabs, and a magnifying glass. For more information on this experiment and many more visit the U.S Energy Information Administration’s page for Energy Kids. It is filled with many science experiments for all grade levels that are easy to recreate at home.
- Print this Energy Ant Activity book created by the EIA and the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project. It’s filled with information, drawing activities, and even a board game to play!
- Download the Universe in a Nutshell app and encourage them to explore the universe at their fingertips. Learning about the big picture can encourage excitement about learning about our planet’s unique beauty.
- Build a science museum at home with MICRO! “MICRO DIY is a new, at-home initiative for builders of all ages to curate their own museum on a single topic, using materials from their own homes.”
A wealth of Chicago, Illinois & National Resources
This is a challenging new venture for so many Americans this year. It is important to remember that you and your kids are not alone. Here are a few Chicago, Illinois-based and national resources to help you succeed:
- MyKidList.com offers a listing of local resources for homeschooling and distance learning.
- The Chicago Teachers Union Foundation lists COVID-specific distant learning resources.
- Chicago Kids provides listings for virtual and socially distanced tutoring opportunities.
- Illinois State Board of Education has a page dedicated to homeschool resources including requirements, communities, materials, and online schools.
- Commonsense.org has an excellent list of 5 free tools to teach about climate change.
- The Museum of Science + Industry Chicago website has amazing hands-on science activities, videos, and games to explore with your kids.
We hope that these tips, science activities, and resources assist you and your kids on the 2020-2021 school journey!