A Classroom Space at Home
Hi! My name is Karen. I am the owner of Sova Learning. I write journals for children with writing prompts, called Genius Journals™. I also created a few really fun memory games. I have a kid-lit podcast with currently 10 episodes where I read aloud stories for children ranging in age from 2-10. I am a certified Special Educator in MA. I am also a certified Reading Specialist. I worked as a Special Educator for 17 years. I am currently in a Doctoral Program at Northeastern studying Education.
As parents, you have always been your child’s first teacher. Before they came into the classroom, you taught them so much that is larger than a worksheet or test. You taught them to take turns, to be respectful and to be great members of a community, plus so many more lessons. I wanted to share a few ideas that may be helpful as you journey into uncharted waters. However, I want to remind you that you can “run this ship.” You will stay afloat. Just like the captain, you will gaze upon the horizon, you will observe the waves and the sunset. The light in you and your children will also guide you home, safely. As a special education teacher of 17 years, I am here to be a resource.
I want to start off with: Organization is key. Everyone on a ship has a role. They need to do their part and everyone’s part is equally important. Thus, your work and their work is important to both of you. Set them up for success so your conference call will be successful. Having an organized space will help.
Communication and Labels: When you create a safe, educational work space for your child, even if it is at the dining room table. Label it. Does your child need a number chart? An alphabet? A daily inspirational quote? Also, label their materials. Labels create a print rich environment and a model for organization. Add a card on their workspace every morning that has a positive saying. Write it on a post-it. Print out my good vibes cards and use them on their desk. The work is done for you.
I like to think of myself as a learner and then think that my children are an extension of that. So, what helps me when I am learning: movement and games, music, and fidgets. When I write for school or professionally, I like music in the background, ambient music, some sort of soothing music helps me concentrate. Try this with your kiddos. Does it increase their focus? If yes, keep it. If no, get rid of it. I happen to learn best when I do. I saw that most of my students learned best when they were interacting with the work. So, ask yourself, how can I make this more interactive? more alive for my child? Trust your instincts. You are the captain. Oh and Fidgets! Grab a slime recipe off Pintrest, fingers crossed you have a ton of glue. Make some slime, put it in a baggie and that becomes their fidget. Put some fuse beads in the slime for a tactile response. Movement breaks are super important to help refocus the mind. They are also healthy for the body. You can create your own movement breaks or use cards I have created. Either one works.
During this time out of school, I think caring for something else is really important for children. Do you have a plant in the house that they could water? How about a stuffed hamster as the class pet? I have found that children like to take care of things and be helpful. It also provides them responsibility and a chance to be in charge or in control of something. This structure will be helpful.
Finally, morning meetings and end of the day wrap up. When you arrive in the classroom or at a meeting, you are greeted. The morning meeting is an opportunity to have a greeting, talk about the weather, set a goal for the day, talk about something you are excited about. Friday night pizza! Tom Brady? A puzzle or math problem. Then at the end of the school day, make sure there is some positive closure. What was one positive experience you had today? What is one question you have about tomorrow’s work? How did it feel to play outside today? How did it feel to face-time your friends or watch Mo Willems draw?
Also remember: Teachers have prep periods during the school or we use our lunchtime to problem solve a lesson that did not go “as planned” for our learners. It is ok to adjust and modify. Teachers are creative problem solvers who love seeing children have those “a-ha” moments. Read your child’s face and adjust the lessons so you connect with their hearts and minds and when that happens, they will be unstoppable in this moment and every moment that follows.
Remember: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometime it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering, “I will try again tomorrow.” -Mary Anne Radmacher