As COVID-19 continues to spread and most schools across the country have made the tough decision to close, parents are finding themselves in unchartered territory- balancing the role of both parent and homeschooling teacher. If you find yourself in this unprecedented situation, read below for some tips on how to not only survive but thrive during these difficult times.
Like parents, schools across the country understand the need for students to continue their learning even when classes can not happen as usual. Many districts have made it a priority to provide resources and activities for distance learning to occur. If you have not received communication from your student’s school or teacher, reach out to inquire about the online activities and resources that are available. Request specific information about concepts and topics that were being taught prior to school closures so that you can continue the learning. Also, be sure to request information about your student’s specific areas of need in any particular subject. The time away from school can be a great opportunity to address any learning gaps that your student may have.
Life as most students know it has been completely turned upside and most have no idea what to expect as they enter the new world of homeschooling. A thoughtful schedule is key to a positive learning environment and will help ease the transition. Schedules help teachers (or in this case, parent educators) plan their lessons and help students know what is expected of them. Within the schedule, build in time to work on each of the core content areas. Remember that kids need breaks, so build those into the schedule as well. In addition to a lunch break, most students will benefit from 2-5 additional breaks throughout the day to engage in physical activity.
Here is where the fun happens! So much of what students learn in schools is typically decided for them. Now that the rules of education have changed (at least for now), do your best to allow them a choice about what and how they learn. If your student enjoys online content, help them access one of the many resources being offered for free in response to COVID-19 school closures. Let their interests also drive what they learn. Allowing students to choose science and social science topics to learn and discover helps to keep them engaged. Build discussions and language arts assignments around their topics of interest to allow for deeper critical thinking and extended learning.
One way to encourage student-led instruction is to create a “Question Jar”. As students have questions about anything (literally anything!), they can write it down and put it in the jar. Pick one question a day and spend time researching the question together. In addition to conducting research, students can demonstrate their learning through various writing and art projects. The time spent researching, reading, writing, and showcasing knowledge is academic time well spent!
“I want to do worksheets all day”, said no kid ever. Instead, provide students a variety of homeschooling activities to strengthen their learning. For example, include simple art activities, watch documentaries, or visit a museum virtually to engage students. Most local libraries have amazing online resources that include educational games, documentary access, and more. Pinterest also has many great arts and crafts ideas.
Even during these uncertain times, student learning can happen! If you have additional tips for educational success during the COVID-19 school closures, share them in the comments section! Happy learning!