Let's Play School

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Let's Play School

Books to help you homeschool and support distance learning

With the world and education paths thrown into chaos over the last several months, you might be at a loss as to how to manage your child’s education. There may be no easy or right answers, but we can look to existing literature for guidance.

Here are seven books to help you determine the best way to teach and support your child through distance or at-home learning while maintaining your own sanity. While these materials were published in the “before” time and will therefore often give advice based on circumstances we can't currently enjoy, much of the information can be adapted to help you and your child have a successful learning experience.

Meanwhile, to stay on top of the game, check out the DC Public Schools curriculum here to help guide your work at home.

(Please note that all titles are linked to in their e-book formats; some are available as physical books to place on hold as well.)

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
Going beyond traditional education strategies, How Children Succeed looks at how soft skills can be the most important thing of all in our development and the science that backs it up. Tough describes educators currently using this approach to get the most out of their students, providing caregivers the opportunity to emulate. With a compelling argument for this unconventional manner of education, How Children Succeed will help set your child up for maximum success despite the challenges we face.

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
For caregivers working from home while their child pursues their education in the same space, it can be difficult to dedicate a lot of one-on-one time to make learning happen. Fortunately, for most students, independent study is an option and books are primary vehicles for this kind of learning. But what to do about reluctant readers? Donalyn Miller has the answers in The Book Whisperer where she lays out tactics for finding the book lover in every kid. Miller also includes book lists that are likely to spur a love of reading.

The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori
Before its time and a classic of education, The Absorbent Mind lays out Montessori’s essential understanding of childhood development. With a view that helps readers understand the why behind the Montessori education design and approach, Montessori focuses on the first six years of childhood and what educators can do to make the most of that time in a child’s life.

Baby Signing Essentials by Nancy Cadjan
Enriching education beyond the typical school subjects can be a huge benefit to the student even when handling traditional subjects. Signing is a great way to introduce language to pre-verbal children while helping to develop them mentally, emotionally, linguistically, and more. Illustrated with easy-to-follow instructions on ASL signing, Baby Signing Essentials can be adapted for older children as well and allow the caregiver to learn something themselves. As a tool to communicate with your child at an incredibly early age, signing is a part of their education that may well be invaluable to you both.

The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Kids in the Places They Live by Kathy Lee and Lesli Richards
With a playful, creative, and unique take on homeschooling preschoolers, Lee and Richards draw on their 20+ years of experience to offer more than 200 activities you can create at home to further your child’s education. Lee and Richards describe the many opportunities you have available in your everyday life to make home-preschooling a successful reality. Have fun while making it happen with this accessible guidebook, including checklists to help keep you and your student on track for long-term achievement.

The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories by Jennifer Hallissy
Put pencil to paper with Hallissy’s instruction on how to teach your child to write. Whether your child is only beginning to be familiar with the alphabet or is familiar with Shakespeare, The Write Start has content that will help bring your child’s writing ability to the next level. With a clear outline on the stages of learning to write, Hallissy also provides enough activities to tackle one every week of the year in this playful guidebook.

Being at Your Best When Your Kids Are at Their Worst: Practical Compassion in Parenting by Kim John Payne
With an extensive history in counseling and education, Payne makes coexisting with your children peacefully a reality with tips in his book. While we share our spaces with children more than ever and the stress of current events pushes us all to our limits, it’s natural that some conflict and behavioral challenges arise. Full of practical advice, Being at Your Best will help you rein in the drama and maximize the benefits of time together. Payne’s book is useful in managing your children and yourself inside and outside the home classroom.