Home Schooling During COVID-19 School Closures
Home Schooling During COVID-19 School Closures
While you may be finding yourself unexpectedly thrown into home schooling your child or children, aged anywhere from five to 17 years old, it is important to know that more than two million kids are home schooled each year in the United States and that this number has been steadily increasing in recent years. In short, you are not alone and there is a lot of information available to help you develop best practices in home schooling as you adjust to everything else that may be changing in your world due to the impact of COVID-19.
Providing structured learning can help your child adjust to the current circumstances of being home schooled. These tried and true strategies, used by home schooling parents for years, provides the structure necessary to keep the household running smoothly, even while parents tend to the new demands of working from home.
- Set a time that instruction begins each day. Here you can be a little flexible, if your child isn’t an early riser and is usually up at 8:00 am, schedule instruction for 9:00 am every day.
- Encourage your child to shower and change as they would for school. This will help develop routine and teach them that it is time to focus on learning.
- Schedule meal breaks at appropriate times.
- Try to facilitate learning of each subject at the same time each day.
- Encourage or help facilitate working with classmates or friends through video calls where they can work on a group project, discuss ideas, or otherwise help each other with assignments.
- Be prepared to contact your local internet service provider and ask for an upgrade in your internet bandwidth to support the increased use of video-enabled school and work sessions.
- Schedule time for Q&A. Your child may need help with some of the work beyond what is provided to them and this may be a challenge if the teacher(s) are not available at all times. Schedule time to help your child and if you don’t know the answer, search for it together.
Home Schooling while Working from Home
These are stressful times as many parents are facing health and financial concerns, adjusting to working from home with the entire family, and facilitating emergency home schooling. Here are a few tips that may help:
- Try to spend a few moments of quality time with your child before the day begins, during breaks, and at the end of the day. As schedule accommodates, hold brief focused check-ins with your child as these can help prevent attention seeking behaviors as the day progresses.
- When possible, be present as your child is scheduled for online learning groups or distance learning classes. This way you can help them get set up and ensure that they are meeting with the people that they should be meeting with and avoid any inappropriate technology use.
- Use your breaks to recharge the entire family. Check in with your child, provide a healthy snack, and answer any questions they may have. These brief check-ins go a long way, but don’t forget about yourself — have a healthy snack, get some fresh air, prepare for the next phase of the day.
- Remember that you are not alone, most parents are now in the position of juggling home schooling while working from home. If you have a meeting and think you may be called away or have kids screaming in the background, be up front with your colleagues at the start of the meeting and they are likely to be very understanding.
Informal Learning Opportunities
In addition to making sure that your child is completing any assigned work from their school or district, try to take their personal interests into account and facilitate informal learning opportunities as supplemental activities. Many public libraries and museums have made their materials and exhibits available online and may even provide virtual tours.
Examples of informal learning activities include:
- Going for a walk (depending on age or grade level, you can develop activities ahead of time such as identifying geometric shapes, natural formations, colors, and so forth)
- Public television educational programming
- Free audiobooks through public libraries
- Virtual tours facilitated by museums or art galleries, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium live animal cameras, Yellowstone National park tours, and the San Diego Zoo online
- Online educational games (be careful of the source and ensure they are actually educational and interactive)
- Building or creating at home (even cooking can be turned into an educational activity depending on age or grade level)
- Plant seeds or otherwise grow or nurture a garden (there are several plants that can be grown indoors if you do not have access to an outdoor area)
- It is also important to incorporate reading activities in every subject when possible (in addition to books), for example, reading recipes, reading information on museum exhibits, or playing educational games online that focus on reading
Finding healthy and enjoyable ways to have fun will help everyone relax. There’s no need to pressurize yourself and your kids — you can do this!
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