Wednesday, 08 April 2020

Homeschooling During COVID-19: Tips and Resources

Written by Cristy Leonard and the North Star Youth Partnership Education Team
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North Star Youth Partnership team. North Star Youth Partnership team.
With the onset of COVID-19 and the practice of social and physical distancing to help contain it, we are witnessing a cultural transformation as it relates to our educational system. Parents are now assuming home schooling responsibilities, which is unprecedented, and we have no previous models on which to base this new way of schooling. 
 
Many of our kids left school for Spring Break expecting to return within a week or two, but instead they did not return at all for the remainder of the school year. They have not seen their friends, their teachers, or anything that resembles normalcy for them. Social distancing is something most of us have never experienced.  We are in unchartered territory, so how do we navigate this course?
 

Stay Calm

 
Everyone is in this together. You do not have to be a teacher in order to teach your child.  Patience, love and encouragement can be enough to motivate your child. Nobody knows your child better than you, so go with what you know works. Do not worry about your child “getting behind” in his/her classwork. This month, our kids were supposed to be taking their standardized tests. What this means is they have already been taught all of the state standards for their grade level. For the most part, once testing has been completed the rest of the school year is dedicated to recap, preparing for finals and having class parties. Academically, our kids are ready for the next school year. If you are concerned, reach out to your child’s teachers.  They want to help. Our children are watching us. If we stay calm, they will, as well.
 

Virtual Education

 
Your child’s school is most likely virtually teaching. Many teachers received a crash course in different online programs in order to teach your children. There will be glitches and mistakes.  Extend grace. The teachers have most likely reached out to you by now, but the question is, how do I get my kid to do the work? Just encourage them to follow the suggested agenda, but let them know it’s okay if they need down time, as well. Let your children teach you. This helps you know where they are academically and feel confident they understand the information. We may just learn that new math our kids are learning!
 

Experiment

 
Figure out what works best for your family. Every home is different, so try different methods and figure out what is the best method for you. Get input from your child, and let them feel like they have some control in a world where we have little control. Remember, your child is missing his or her fourth quarter of the school year.  This is supposed to be the “fun” quarter, especially once standardized testing is over. This is the quarter of prom, field trips, end of the year parties and graduation. This is the quarter the kids look forward to enjoying. The Monday through Friday bell schedule your child is used to will probably not work for you. Right now nothing is “normal,” so it is okay to do school differently. Sometimes you may just be able to do one subject during the day, and that is OK. Other days may be better, and your child may be able to do several classes. Remember, our kids will have good and bad days just as we will.
 

Have a Routine

 
Get your child’s input to find out what is important to your child. Together create a time for focused learning (class work), helping around the house, and frequent periods of rest, relaxation and exercise.  Be flexible, and extend grace. Your kids will not always stick to the schedule. Encourage them and ask how you can best support them.
 

Get Sleep

 
Take it easy, and let your child sleep in. There will not be any rush getting ready in the morning, so let them sleep. They need it. Use that time to your advantage. Get your work done, meditate, exercise or sleep in yourself. This is the “me time” we all need.
 

Choose a Workspace

 
Let your child choose his/her workspace, just be sure there are not any visual distractions (i.e. the television). Music may help your child focus. Also, allow your child to create a “reading corner” or “craft corner.” If you have more than one child, let the older ones read to the younger ones. This not only develops literacy and increases vocabulary, it also strengthens the bond between your children. Crafts, drawing, painting and other art allow your child to be creative as well as express his/her emotions. 
 

Journal

 
Journaling is so important. Encourage your child to write down his/her feelings, details about the day and anything else that is important. This will help with your child’s mental and emotional health. This pandemic is historic. Our children will be telling their children about the time they had to physically distance themselves, and school was cancelled due to COVID-19. This journal can serve as a physical reminder of how life was during
2020 when this virus was rampant in the world. 
 

Go Outside

 
It is amazing how spending time outside in the sun can boost your mood. It also is an excellent source of Vitamin D, which helps promote healthy bones and teeth, supports immune system and brain function, as well as supporting lung function and cardiovascular health.  It allows you to have different scenery.  Take a walk with your family, just be sure you are physically distancing yourself from others who may be taking walks as well. 
 

Family Time

 
Spend time with your family. Look at physical distancing as a blessing. We will probably never have this time again. Play games, do puzzles, learn a language together, cook, bake, have a family sleepover, build a fort, and just hang out with your family. Our hope is that we do not look back at this precious time we have with our families and say, “I wish I would have spent more time with my kids!” 
 

We are in this Together

 
All of us are in the same boat. When our kids return to school next year, none of them finished the fourth quarter of 2020. Teachers are used to adjusting. Our kids will be OK; we will be OK. We need to love on our kids, extend grace, and for now, physically distance ourselves. One day, this pandemic will be over. We will get back to a new normal. Until then, we can only do our best.  Our kids do not expect perfection, they just want our love and support. 
 

Online Resources for Learning

Foreign Language: Duolingo

Coding: Code or Tynker

English/Language Arts: Get Epic or Quill

Math: Prodigy, Kahn Academy, or Math 4 Cook Kids

Social Studies: Newsela, iCivics, Seterra or Docs Teach

Science: PhET Interactive Simulations

All Subjects: Moby Max, IXL or Typing

 

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