Lockdown Learning, Part 2: the power of a DAILY ROAD MAP

It can be hard for students (and parents) to face a long day of schoolwork at home. All those hours of work looming ahead can seem endless.

The key to overcoming this is a daily road map which shows students exactly what work is expected and in what (approximate) time frame. Think of a typical child’s reaction to a long road trip: Are we there yet? Imagine handing the child a map marked with the full route and intermediate points so that they can answer their own question.

The same idea applies to learning, no matter where you are. All it takes is a sheet of paper with a list of work planned for that day, such as: finish water graph / history part 2 / break / second draft of essay / break / science workbook.

Remember, the cues that help punctuate a student’s day at school (bells, printed schedules, moving to designated learning areas) are absent at home – thank goodness! This means that the parent must provide some form of blueprint for the day. Using one page of a miniature notebook to list the day’s work is a good way to accomplish this.

The miniature notebook has several benefits. First, it provides one consistent place for daily expectations to be set down. Second, leafing through lists of past work will subtly demonstrate how much the student has already accomplished. Furthermore, a designated notebook signals that school is in session and helps establish a routine. Finally, it also reinforces organizational skills and builds student independence. As the student works, she will have the great satisfaction of crossing out each task in succession – another surprisingly effective habit. This road map for a day’s learning helps students stay on task, and they can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Often, using a written, daily road map has another magical effect: it helps relieve the parent of his or her status as the evil school enforcer. In a way, the list tells the student what to do, not you, the parent. Although this may sound absurd, a subtle shift truly does take place when using written documentation (from the miniature notebook to printed lesson plans and learner outcomes) that shifts the “guilt” off the parent’s shoulders.

Communication is the key to motivating a student and maintaining a peaceful relationship. Parents who feel frustrated by home schooling should have a frank discussion with their children and seek a solution together. You may well be surprised by the results.

(This is an excerpt from my book, Lesson Plans Ahoy. Like another of my books, Lesson Plans To Go, it is full of practical tips and plans for parents educating their kids outside of normal school settings. Although one book is aimed at homeschooling on a boat and the other for homeschooling on the road, the principles can be applicable anywhere - including at home! Both books have tips on managing a one-room schoolhouse type setting with students of different ages side by side. Please feel free to email questions to me at author(at)nslavinski(dot)com - I’ll do my best to answer in future blog posts.)