Millions of children across the world have been kept at home as thousands of schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since there’s still no assurance that it’s safe to go outside, many schools encouraged parents to do homeschooling instead. However, it’s not that easy. Many parents, especially mothers, struggle to make the transition to both working and teaching childen.
While online learning plays an important role to ensure that people can continue to learn regardless of their physical proximity, children still need social interaction. They need to learn several boundaries in this new normal while also keeping up with the lessons they left in school. For parents new to homeschooling, juggling lesson plans with managing the house is no easy task.
"Everyone’s situation is unique, everyone’s situation’s not the same. I know as a mom myself, that you can feel guilty sometimes if you’re not able to do what you see other people doing, but understand that everyone’s gonna be in the same boat" when classes resume,” Tiffany Crow, a Woodstock Middle School teacher in Shelby County, Tennessee, said.
Megan Miller, a homeschool mom of three, said that the job of homeschooling can be hard under normal circumstances. The coronavirus-related school closures add another layer. "I can even tell that the kids are a little bit more agitated with each other. They are agitated with me. I'm more agitated with them. I think that's because we're not getting any other outside social interaction,” Miller said. With everything that’s going on, parents, for sure, need some guidance homeschooling their children.
Set Up Designated Space and Time for Learning
Parents need to set the mood for learning so the kids will take this time seriously. To do this, parents need to set up a learning space for them. There are no clear guidelines on what it should look like. As long as children are comfortable there, it would be good to go. Experts also say that it’s okay for parents to allow their kids to go lay on the floor or sit at a table—whatever works best for them. The important thing is that they need to be focused.
According to Phys.org, an internet news portal that provides the latest news on science, parents should also limit distractions when they are in the designated learning area. This includes turning the television off and switching off app notifications.
Know Your Kid
It’s important that parents are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their children in terms of their academic performance. This way, they will know what subject/s they need to focus on. Parents should also consider whether their kids are fast learners or not. 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," MIT education researcher Justin Reich said.
Children also tend to learn more in a specific learning environment. For those who learn better in groups, experts suggest trying a Zoom study session with a fellow classmate. Some may prefer to study alone or work on their own.
Create a Schedule and Routine
Experts say that it’s important to create a structure of learning for children so they won’t see this time as an extended vacation. The biggest recommendation of Stephanie Hall Powell, the superintendent of forthcoming San Antonio Preparatory Charter School in the US, for parents adjusting to homeschooling is to resist the pressure to re-create the eight-hour school day. This won’t be effective for parents who are simultaneously working from home while trying to monitor their family’s lesson plans.
Instead, schedule the children’s lesson plans according to what fits in all their schedules. It would be also helpful if the kids are involved in planning. “Homeschool while working a full-time job is really challenging because you can’t devote 100 percent of the time to children and to your job. What I’m finding and learning and helping other families with is to let them know you don’t have to do school the way that school does school,” Powell said.
It would also be helpful to be consistent in their daily routines. Pamela Price, who wrote the book, “How to Work and Homeschool,” recommends setting out an amount of work for children to complete their task every day. According to Express News, an online site about business news and analysis, parents should also not deprive their kids of rest or snack breaks. “If your kids take some solace in just playing a computer game for an hour with a friend, that’s OK. You don’t have to be perfect,” she said.
Implement Learning Intervals
Parents need to make sure that their kids are engaged in learning intervals throughout their day. Being at home, they can become easily bored and distracted. While learning is a priority, you also need to help them break up the day, too. For instance, parents can schedule breaks to take time away to help them when you can. “If kids are getting frustrated, they’re not going to be able to learn. Take a break and return to the activity later,” Julia Hainer-Violand, an elementary-school teacher and curriculum consultant, said.
Do an Activity With Your Kids
Ana Homayoun, an educational coach for students in the Bay Area, said that this is a great time for kids to pursue interests they haven't had time to focus on in the past. It could be anything they want, from cooking to singing to dancing. Parents can use this opportunity to do fun activities with them. Learning can be so much fun through this.
According to Thrive Global, an American company that provides behavior change technology and media to support individuals struggling with stress and burnout, parents can try something new and try exciting activities with their children such as doing science experiments, baking and cooking, looking for new craft ideas, writing a book or a story, creating their own theater show or musical, writing their very own music, and many more. This is also a great way to have memorable learning experiences with them.