DiscoverParenting & Families

Hack Your Kids' Education

By

Loved it! 😍

This is beneficial for those that are looking to teach their kids online, with great checklists and printable resources.

Synopsis

Are you struggling to teach your kids on lockdown during the coronavirus crisis?

Are you frustrated because you were never trained as a teacher?

Have you been forced to juggle an in-home or outside job and teaching your kids?

Are your kids anxious, frustrated, and confused?

Do you have unmotivated or angry kids? Are you feeling the same way?

Do you have no idea what resources to look for?

Do you have special needs kids at home who are suddenly not getting the help they need?

Are you trying to share computers, limit electronic time, or both?

Do you need help with your frustration and confusion?

Does this situation feel like you are living the same day over and over?

Does your family feel like it is imploding under the weight of togetherness?

Hack Your Kids’ Education can help!

This book is full of tips, tricks, checklists, worksheets, and projects.

There are plenty of resources to get you started and keep you going!

People who download or purchase the book also have free access to download all of the printouts in the back of the book!

When I first started Hack Your Kids Education, I thought it would help. As a parent that is going to be working with my kids doing distance learning this year, I could use any tips that anyone can provide! However, this book started with some generally useful tips (although it repeatedly said that if the school uses a flipped classroom model, it makes your life easy!). The book then goes and promotes Kahn Academy. This talks a lot about parents that are essentially looking to homeschool their children (of a variety of ages).


I did enjoy the checklists as I think it can help in a bunch of situations - how to prepare, what to have for extracurriculars as well as academics. I also loved the ideas on how to be creative with school - have kids create their own game, for example. I also liked some of the ideas about different things for kids to do (yoga, brain puzzles, creative play, cooking, etc.) that aren't necessarily school related, but can aid with the learning. When it comes to "after school" activities, the book kind of passes the buck. There are a lot of recommendations for parents of kids with special needs, which is definitely appreciated.


I think I was hoping for more of how to keep kids motivated and what else to include in a home curriculum, even if your school is doing a distance learning model. Some of what is included can certainly be applied. There are printables on how to make a mission statement and rules for the house and the classroom, and how to keep the two separate.


There is a section about being careful online, but I think this should have been elaborated on a bit more, especially for younger kids. A lot of distance learning (and even homeschooling) does take place on technology, so safe use should be part of what is taught at home. The end of the book has checklists for all of what is needed for each aspect. There are great printables included as well. These are great for all ages and any type of learning.


Overall, this book is more helpful for someone looking to homeschool, but any one is who is looking to teach their kids from home can find some worthwhile tips!

Reviewed by

I am an avid reader who loves discovering new books. I read a variety of different genres, ranging from thrillers to historical fiction. I also write reviews of the books I read to help others discover new reads as well. I'm a member of a number of reading groups and we share our recommendations.

Synopsis

Are you struggling to teach your kids on lockdown during the coronavirus crisis?

Are you frustrated because you were never trained as a teacher?

Have you been forced to juggle an in-home or outside job and teaching your kids?

Are your kids anxious, frustrated, and confused?

Do you have unmotivated or angry kids? Are you feeling the same way?

Do you have no idea what resources to look for?

Do you have special needs kids at home who are suddenly not getting the help they need?

Are you trying to share computers, limit electronic time, or both?

Do you need help with your frustration and confusion?

Does this situation feel like you are living the same day over and over?

Does your family feel like it is imploding under the weight of togetherness?

Hack Your Kids’ Education can help!

This book is full of tips, tricks, checklists, worksheets, and projects.

There are plenty of resources to get you started and keep you going!

People who download or purchase the book also have free access to download all of the printouts in the back of the book!

Fast Start: Face to Face Homeschooling


There are a billion students worldwide suddenly sent home due to the coronavirus crisis. Parents are instantly teaching their children even though they have never done this before. These transitions have often been wrenching. Students have suddenly been cut off from their friends and teachers. They may be living in a few rooms without sports, music, or other things that they greatly enjoyed. Both parents and students may be anxious and unsure of the future. Students are very much routine-oriented, and they have been cut off from their old routine.


Then there’s the fear and confusion about whether or not this quarter or semester “counts” towards their grades. There is a layer of anxiety on top of everything else about the global pandemic and economic issues. Young students may not be able to understand what exactly is going on, but they can certainly pick up on the anxiety from the people around them. Routine can help diminish free-floating anxiety.


The trick is to create an educational environment that mimics your kids’ previous school. This is about schedules, not hallways or lockers. Once you have the schedule, you can then work with your students to make changes if that is better for your particular home environment. 


Step One: Get the Textbooks and/or Online Materials


Get all of the resources your students will use, such as textbooks and a list of online materials. This may have been put together in a hurry. If so, don’t panic. 


Step Two: Find a Copy of Your Student’s Schedule


If you have an older student, you may already have access to your student’s schedule. This is a great starting point. If not, try to contact the school to get the students’ normal schedules.


Your school’s website may have your child’s schedule. It may cover what subjects students in your child’s grade take, and possibly at what times. Try to find the normal lunch and recess times. You may also be able to find information on special things your particular school does, such as a writing prompt at the beginning of every language class and math problems before math class. 


You may also be able to find a reading list for your students. A reading list will give you a list of things that your students should have read by the time they’re done with their grade. 


Graded readers are readers in various subjects such as math, science, biography, history, and more using vocabulary words your students should know or learn. If your school uses graded readers, you should be able to find this out. You can attempt to speak to your students’ language teachers or librarians. If your school does use them, you’re going to have to find out from the teachers, librarians or your students what their levels are. You can get graded readers online.


You should also be able to determine whether or not your school uses reverse teaching (flipped classroom). Reverse teaching or a flipped classroom is when your students’ teachers record lessons, and the student then goes to class and does the work where the teacher can see it done. If your school has reverse teaching in most or all of its subjects, then you are off to an excellent start. In this case, you need to find out what the teacher will have the students do in class. For instance, they may have to do problems in the math book or do a short paper on a historical figure.  This makes your job as a parent much easier because all you have to do is review the work that your students have to do. 


Finding out the schedule will give you a starting point. You don’t have to follow it, but it may make students feel more secure, at least in the beginning. You can adjust as you so desire. Keep in mind the math first principle. Because that subject has so many concepts and steps that must be taken, your kids have to keep up with that subject, or they fall behind. I suggest doing it first every at-home school day so you won’t forget it. 


Step Three: Communicate With Your Student’s Teacher(s)


You need to contact every teacher your students have. Find out what exactly the teacher does to map out the day. Younger students may have math first, science before lunch, and music after lunch. For older students, knowing their general schedule should be fine. 


Does the teacher use reverse/flipped teaching, and, if so, what is assigned in class to do for each video? This type of teaching uses a lot of planning, so the teacher should be able to email you the videos and what the students are supposed to do after they watch them. 


Are there worksheets (math, English, science) or writing practice when the student enters the class? If your students do not have any of those special times, you can always put these into your curriculum. 


Schedules may change depending on the day of the week. Teachers may have a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, and a Tuesday, Thursday schedule.  There may be special things on Fridays, such as field trips, school assemblies, and the like. 


Homework


Ask the teachers how they want assignments turned in or recorded. Will you or the teacher review them for errors? Are you simply counting them as completed?


Computer-based work can be uploaded into a special folder and shared with the teacher. If you have a scanner, you can scan your student’s offline worksheets and upload them to a folder that you can then share with the teachers. Or, you or your students may take pictures of their work at the end of the school day and upload the pictures into a special online Google Docs folder that is shared with the teachers. 


In many school districts, the parent will be responsible for grading, not the teacher, unless the teacher explicitly says that they will grade your students’ homework. 


The idea behind correcting student work is to:

Determine whether or not the students understood what it was they were supposed to do based on what they just learned. 

Improve for the next assignment.

Find the place where the students can’t move forward because they just don’t understand the material. If so, you, as a parent, must help your students understand, use videos that explain the issue, use homework help websites, hire a tutor, or ask the teacher how to instruct your student.


Here are some questions you may want to ask your student’s teachers:


For younger students/if the student has one teacher:


How is the time blocked on a daily basis by subject?

Are there special subjects like art, music, languages, and programming?

Are there special pre-teaching things you give or do like writing prompts or math problems?

Do you use graded readers? If so, do you know what graded readers my student is reading?

Do my students need to turn in book reports? If so, what is the format?

Do you have an online folder with all of the handouts or extra materials you plan to use for this quarter or semester?  If so, could you share it with myself and other parents in your classes, or upload it to the school’s website?

Do you do reverse teaching? If so, what is assigned in class to do for each video? 

How are my students supposed to turn in their work? 

Is there a special online folder where you want the work uploaded on the school’s website? Or, do you want me to share a folder on Google Docs with you?

Will you review the assignments, or is that my job?


For students with multiple teachers:

Are there special pre-teaching items you give or do like writing prompts or math problems?

Do you use graded readers? If so, do you know what graded reader my student is reading?

Do my students need to turn in book reports? If so, what is the format?

Is there a reading list for the books my student should have read by the end of the quarter or semester?

Do you have a syllabus for your class that says what you are covering on which day?

Do you have an online folder with your syllabus, lesson plans, projects, directions for the projects, and all of the handouts or extra materials you plan to use for this quarter or semester?  If so, could you share it with myself and other parents in your classes, or upload it to the school’s website?

What projects is this class working on, what are the directions, and when are projects due? When and how are the projects supposed to be turned in? How are group projects supposed to be completed?

Do you have a list of things my student is supposed to know by the end of the quarter or semester? How to write a report? How to use the scientific method? How to do basic algebra? 

How are my students supposed to turn in their work? 

Is there a special online folder where you want the work uploaded on the school’s website? Or, do you want me to share a folder on Google Docs with you?

Will you review the assignments, or is that my job?


Note for school districts, principals, and teachers: Many students throughout the world may not attend school for the rest of the semester, maybe even the entire year. If you don’t have the above information ready for parents, prepare it and put it on your school or district website immediately. 


Step Four: Determine What Your Student Must Know


If you have textbooks and a syllabus, it should be very clear what your student should know by the end of the quarter or semester. You may be able to contact the manufacturer’s website or check online for the teacher’s edition of the book if you have no idea how to teach the subject to your students. 


If your school is already doing reverse teaching (flipped classroom), then you’re in luck. Your students can do their work using reverse teaching (flipped classroom), then do what their teachers require to prove they have learned it. If they don’t understand what their teachers are saying, there are dozens of YouTube videos available explaining that same subject in detail. They may simply need it explained differently. If you are a working parent or if the subject confuses you, you can hire a tutor or work with your students’ teachers to help your students understand the material.  


If there is a reading list, then your students can read whatever the required books are in between their regular classwork, or as part of their language classes. Your students’ teachers may be requesting book reports. If so, find out the format for the book reports. They are usually the title, the author, the plot, the main characters, the theme, and whether or not and why the student did or didn’t enjoy the book. While they are out of regular school, this is a perfect time for students to start reading these lists. [There are several book report examples in the “Checklists, Worksheets, and Projects” section of this book.]


Check library websites in your local area for reading lists by grade level. You can call a librarian or check regional or country requirements with a Google search. In most countries, there is a rather extensive recommended reading list for high school students to have read by the time they graduate. If you have a high school or middle school student, you should be able to obtain this list online.


Check the library websites or the apps Libby or Overdrive to find out if your library allows you to check out ebooks and audiobooks online. 


The point is to get your students back to school, having learned whatever they needed to learn while the schools are closed. Some parents may decide that an online curriculum helps their students better, and they may switch to an online curriculum then take them out of physical schools permanently. That is up to each family to make that decision.


Step Six: Classwork Help and Tutoring


A simple Google search should come up with numerous videos and websites that will help your students do their schoolwork. They can find videos on YouTube that will walk them through what they just learned. Or, they can go to sites like Math.com, Infostream, and SparkNotes. You don’t want a website that will do the work for them. If you want someone who will help students complete their work, try a website like Tutor.com (which is NOT free). There are free homework help tutors out there, especially during the coronavirus crisis. It is important that your students fully understand whatever it is they just read or were asked to do.   


Caregivers


If you are a parent that has to work outside the home, your caregiver will have to be teaching, unless you work part-time or on a late shift. If you are legally able to leave your teenager in the house, you may be able to have your self-directed student doing schoolwork while you are at work. I suggest several video check-ins during your day to be sure that your student is fine and doing the work. A homework or tutoring help site can help your student when you are not there. When you return home or the next day before work, check to be sure the work has been done correctly and that the student is on track. With an online school, you can do this with the tools the schools offer.  


Tutors


Many teachers or substitute teachers without families of their own who are forced to stay home may be hired as your students’ tutors. There may be high school or college students that are able to work as tutors. Remember that older students have their work to do as well.


Remember that your tutor or caregiver will have to wear a mask and possibly gloves while inside the house, or may not be able to come in at all. Explain to your child why this is happening, that the person is following government mandates and is trying to keep everyone safe. Older students will understand an infographic about how coronavirus and other diseases are spread and what they must do to stay safe. This is a fantastic time to teach kids about keeping surfaces clean, as well as frequently washing their hands.


Since you are homeschooling, you can teach your students whenever you want. If you work the second or third shift, you can teach your students when you get home or when you wake up, and use the other people in your life as caregivers, not tutors. You could have your older students sleep when you do, but some may not be able to make their bodies do that. 


Try to stick to normal schedules if you can if the students prefer it. Younger kids may only be doing worksheets, songs, and/or educational games for two hours a day, broken up into small blocks. Older kids can probably do all their work in four to six hours, with frequent breaks. 


Preparation


Prepare everything for the next day. After all the classwork has been checked, and the kids are in free time or taking a nap, prep for the next day. The worst time to prepare is at the beginning of the school day. Doing it the night before saves you time and aggravation.


What textbooks, worksheets, card decks, projects, and supplies do you need? Make sure the kids put all their books and supplies back on their shelves, in their baskets, etc. One good rule is once one activity, game, worksheet, art session, and the like is done, it must be cleaned up before starting the next one.


Take prepping to other levels. Do you make a special breakfast with the kids on Wednesdays? Make sure you have all the ingredients the day or even two days before. Check the calendar for holidays, birthdays, and other special times, and get the supplies out to make the posters, make the special meal, have the party, or whatever for that day.


You can even prepare meals three times a week for the next few days. For example, cook one chicken or prepare a tofu cake for multiple meals. Wash and cut up vegetables and fruits for snacks and side dishes. Make large side dishes and divide them up for later. If you have a freezer, fill it up with labeled prepped food because some days you just don’t want to cook, everyone is exhausted, or whatever. Make pies, cakes, and cookies for a few days with your kids. 


Prep meals with your kids. They will learn more about meal planning, and you will teach them some valuable life skills without having to cook all the time. Prep for fun times like pizza nights or pancake breakfasts, or whatever is fun food for your family.


Other Options


School in a Box


School in a Box, otherwise known as a big box or homeschool curriculum, is when textbook companies send books to you, usually separated by grade, possibly by level. They are supposed to cover everything in that grade. If you cannot get textbooks, if your students have zipped past what is in their textbooks, and you do not want to use online or computerized education, this is a good plan for you. Some people live in areas with poor internet, making online learning difficult or even impossible.


With a homeschool curriculum, you can work at your students’ paces, teach it however you want, and everything for an entire grade is usually in the box. Many boxes come with teacher’s guides. 


You will have to go online to find a good school in a box program. Keep in mind your particular situation. You may have a particular preference in religion or want a secular curriculum, be from a certain culture, want your students  to learn using multiple languages, or have a part of the curriculum you want to emphasize such as STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) or environmentalism. School in a box can be passed down from older students to younger ones. Graded readers, science kits, and other projects may be extra.  


Investigate using search terms like home school curricula, homeschool curriculum kits, and big box curriculum. Many United States home curriculum producers are Christian-based. If you don’t want religion in your textbooks, be sure to find a non-religious company or version. Look for ratings. Join online homeschool parenting groups to find out what they’re using and why. 


This can be a pricey option. Remember that you will probably be spending $300 or more per child per box.  


Note: There is a section in this book about school in a box options. 


A hybrid option


There are also curricula that are delivered online that you can print out. This option will use up a lot of paper, but it will be much cheaper than delivering actual books. You can also do this program as a hybrid. Your students can use worksheets when younger, and graduate to the students reviewing the material on the computer. For example, the self-study Robinson Curriculum is $195 for all kids, all grades, K-12. I would highly suggest pairing this hybrid option with library books, ebooks, audiobooks, science kits, languages, art, and music. There are apps for most of the extra things. It is a great way to get started quickly. 


Other plans use DVDs or ebooks online to teach directly to the students. One is Teaching Textbooks at www.teachingtextbooks.com. This is a math-only curriculum for grades 2-12. This program is entirely online using ebooks, but you can order the DVDs if you prefer that method. They are kind of lighthearted, and students enjoy being taught directly. This program is $4-$6 per month with discounting for large families.


Putting Together Your Own Curriculum


You can put together your program from online homeschooling resources. However, you run the risk of not covering something your district, state, province, or country requires. You must determine the requirements first. You will also spend a lot of time finding and printing the material. You must be certain your students can pass whatever exams they need to take to graduate from their grade or high school.


I do not recommend this option unless you are an educator because it is time-consuming and somewhat risky that your kids would miss something critical. Some parents use a mishmash of different curricula after finding what works with their kids using trial and error. If you do this method, remember that you are not an expert in everything. You will need to hire tutors or use apps, especially for subjects like music, art, drama, and languages.


Life Skills


Remember that life skills can be taught all along, based on the mental and emotional maturity of students. For instance, five-year-olds can learn to mix the ingredients for bread, but don’t have the muscular strength to knead bread and shouldn’t be putting food into a hot oven. Cooking is a great life skill to learn! 


The good news is that one never knows what will spark a student’s interest. There will probably be a lot of trial and error. There is an American commercial that shows a father having his son try and fail various sports, and the father eventually finds out the kid enjoys chess. You can meet the educational requirements from your district, town or city, area, or country while still teaching life skills, covering STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) courses in a more fun and useful way, and finding what students enjoy and excel at. This is a great time for kids to explore and develop new interests and skills.



About the author

L. J. Hawke is a teacher and college professor with over a decade of experience teaching PreK-12 and university students, in-person and online. She has a master’s degree in business administration and a dual master’s degree in education and bilingual education, with an emphasis in online education. view profile

Published on May 14, 2020

Published by

4000 words

Genre: Parenting & Families

Reviewed by

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