Parents throughout America may be struggling to find ways to encourage their children’s learning while working from home themselves during the coronavirus crisis.
Many school districts are ill-equipped to conduct full online learning, but, despite the situation, parents can meet the challenge of providing educational experiences for their children of any age and may find it to be a very rewarding opportunity at that.
First and foremost, parents can de-stress immediately with the knowledge they do not need to replicate school at home. Remember that schools must provide services to many children at once, and now you can devote time to your children alone.
Ty Salvant, a veteran homeschooler with six children and founder of Louisiana’s NOLA Homeschoolers, emphasized to Fox 8 that parents don’t need to provide six to eight hours of instructional time daily for their children.
“One of the tips I give to families of elementary age and younger students is that two hours of instruction is enough, and it doesn’t have to be consecutive,” Salvant said, adding that four hours is appropriate for high school-age children.
Consider scheduling the most challenging learning activities in the morning when children may have the most energy. Build in breaks and time for fun activities outside, if possible. Remember, as well, not every subject has to be taught each day.
Build in time for household chores – learning responsibility is part of a child’s education. Think of creative ways to make divvying up chores more fun. For example, play “restaurant” one night per week and have children join in making the family meal that night. Alternate roles of “chef,” who chooses and helps prepare the meal with the help of “assistants,” and “waiters,” who set and clear the table.
Parents who are working from home might consider a daily schedule that includes their “office hours,” a block of time when they may need to be on the phone or on a web conference and cannot be disturbed, except for emergencies. It’s best to schedule activities that are of high interest to children during these times, so they are more motivated to work or play independently.
Don’t overlook board games as educational tools. Children can learn a great deal from games, not the least of which is how to read the body language of one’s opponent – a talent that can be missed when only video games are available.
There is no lack of online education tools to help parents during this adjustment to education at home.
However, where there is a need for broadband and WiFi internet access, Spectrum is offering both services free to students affected by the school closures during the coronavirus crisis.
Charter Communications, Spectrum’s parent company, announced that it would make these services available beginning March 16 for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who don’t already have internet through the company.
Xfinity is also offering new customers in a Comcast area 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a national homeschooling association, offers ideas on how to get started with home education.
The Homeschool Resource Roadmap was developed by veteran homeschooler Tina Hollenbeck and provides prospective home educators with information about more than 4,000 resources.
Homegrown Learners is a website developed by a former public school teacher-turned-homeschooling-parent. The site features curriculum ideas for children of every age and a blog that provides parents with encouragement.
Christian homeschooling site Abeka Academy is hosting “online events” to help parents choose curriculum that is most appropriate for their children.
Well-Trained Mind Academy offers classical education curriculum for middle and high school students.
The American Heritage Education Foundation is a favorite source for homeschoolers for American history instruction for younger children.
For older high school students, Hillsdale College provides its celebrated free online courses in history, politics, literature, philosophy, and religion – nearly a full program of learning for an older student.
Parents with children who have been diagnosed with autism may want to check out Model Me Kids, which sells apps, videos, and software to teach social skills training for students aged 2-21. The company is offering a 25 percent-off discount on all their social skills training products during this time with the code MMK25OFF.
U.S. Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) encourages parents to take control of their children’s education during this time and invites them to experience the flexibility that home education offers:
One of the most valuable opportunities of home schooling is reigniting your children’s love of learning. Try to relax and live in the moment. If your child wants to spend all day reading about dinosaurs, let them. You can easily integrate math questions, history questions, verbal presentation skills, research skills and more all into a focused day – or even a week – on dinosaurs!
It’s also fine to have “book-reading days.” Parents can take pride in giving their children the opportunity to read the classics and to spend as much time as they like reading – an experience they may not have in traditional schools.
Jamie Gass, education director of the Boston-based Pioneer Institute, recommends a “top five” book series to explore as parents are educating at home. He suggests the Core Knowledge Curriculum Series, the Classic Starts Series, Great Illustrated Classics, the Who Was? Series, and the Geraldine McCaughrean series.
For children who tend to avoid fiction, parents might consider Kate Klise’s Regarding the Fountain series.
Neal McCluskey, director of Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, recently spoke to Breitbart News about the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on education.
“It’s pretty well established that lots of change happens in a crisis,” he said.
Similarly, homeschooling parent Courtney Ostaff, who worked with Well-Trained Mind Academy, told the New York Post, “So many people do not start homeschooling on purpose but kind of fall into it.”
“It’s the same for people doing it because of the coronavirus,” she added. “They’re not alone and need to take a deep breath and think to themselves: ‘We’ve got this.’”