With school closures happening all across the country due to the coronavirus outbreak, public schools are varying widely in what they offer. School districts have a legal obligation to provide equitable learning opportunities and it can be hard for schools to guarantee access to necessary hardware, like laptops and WiFi, for all students, so some are confining themselves to handing out optional “enrichment” lessons.
If you’re one of the tens of millions of parents who are now essentially homeschooling your kids, we have some tips to help you keep your kids engaged and everyone sane. (And here’s a comic version of these homeschooling tips!)
Strong learners can do even better independently, but weaker learners may really struggle. “Online [and independent] learning is really hard for a lot of people. It requires a lot of self-regulated learning skills,” says MIT education researcher Justin Reich.
Different kids will do best in different learning environments. If your child learns better in groups, try a Zoom study session with a fellow classmate. The older kids are, the longer they may be able to work on their own. And remember, resources are going to become available slowly for students who need them — you may not have to do this all by yourself.
This is a good time for passion projects.
This is a good time for kids to pursue interests they haven’t had time to focus on in the past. It could be cooking, building in Minecraft, or drawing. Bonus: If it’s something they’re truly interested in, you won’t have to bug them to do it.
Set up designated space and time for learning.
Kids may need to move around during the day, we suggest having one or two designated areas for learning. Have your kids pack up their materials into a basket so they can put them aside when they’re finished.
Same goes for time. While it’s good to have a general daily routine, you can also be flexible. It’s OK to let your kids sleep in a little later than usual — research shows many of our children and teens are chronically sleep-deprived. Plus, most homeschoolers don’t teach seven hours straight a day. Shoot for two to four good academic hours instead. And don’t forget to get outside — learning happens outdoors too.
Be forgiving of yourself and your kid.
This is a very stressful time. If you need to put on a movie to get through the day, that’s absolutely fine. Homayoun says, “You don’t have to home school if it’s really going to cause severe emotional distress for everyone involved. And I think that’s really important for parents to hear right now because we all feel so much personal pressure.”