How To Home School During Coronavirus
As coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, we’re working to answer the public’s questions, especially those on many parents’ minds. This is a fast-moving situation, so some information in this post may be outdated by the time that you read it. So, for the latest updates, read 664Connect’s Coronavirus Coverage here.
Across the Caribbean and here in Montserrat, parents are settling into the idea that the current coronavirus outbreak will require many to take over for teachers and child care providers into the foreseeable future. Schools in Montserrat are currently closed from March 16th until the 3rd of April 2020, but it is possible that the coronavirus crisis might last until August.
So, with schools on island closed and unlikely to reopen soon, families are gathering teaching materials, setting up schedules, and looking for ways to keep children engaged. Parents who are pros at packing lunches and juggling sports practices may feel overwhelmed at the thought of managing students’ school days at home. First of all, please take comfort in knowing that school-based lessons rarely go perfectly even for professional teachers. Children struggle with instructions and get frustrated, no matter how well their teacher prepares, and teachers spend a lot of their preparation time analysing activities to improve their next lesson. As families step into teaching roles, so it’s crucial to treat inevitable missteps as learning opportunities too.
Consistency helps students focus, so start with a daily schedule. Skilled teachers often begin the school year with structure, because children learn more easily when they know what to expect. A schedule also allows parents and other caregivers to share duties. By building in breaks, choice and a range of activities, parents can tailor plans to meet children’s individual needs. But be flexible and keep your child’s experience and personality in mind.
If your child’s school offers remote learning, use the provided assignments to create a basic structure for each day, supplementing them as needed with activities that round out the curriculum. Even the most thorough remote-learning plans won’t occupy students all day and most families will need to find additional activities. We have compiled a list of resources below to help your search.
You can give older children a sense of investment each day by asking them to help formulate their own schedule. But don’t get too caught in your lesson plan. Listen to your child. If they say, “I don’t get it,” or, “I’m tired and I can’t do this,” hear them out rather than telling them what to do next. Once you’ve heard how they’re feeling, ask them to read the directions aloud, or point you to the section that’s confusing. This will show them you are listening and let them make progress.
Parents with children of multiple ages have the extra challenge of balancing multiple remote-learning plans. Delegate tasks to older students — added responsibility can be inspiring for children, even if they complain about it. Once in teacher mode, try staggering school start times, setting up multiple learning areas, and matching the noise level of different projects so everyone isn’t loud at the same time.
When teaching, wait for eye contact before giving verbal instructions to children. After you’re done, ask them to restate the main points of what you’ve said. Get to the child’s eye level to help communication, and limit verbal directions to two steps for preschoolers and three steps for older kids. The remote-learning situation will test everyone’s patience, so remember to take time for yourself.
Structure academic activities around your children’s attention spans. Most elementary-school children can work on assignments for around 25 minutes before they need a break. Use a timer or time-management software to arrange breaks, which can also become transitions to new tasks. Or have your children do some jumping jacks, get a drink of water, take a short walk, climb stairs or play a game to help them refocus. Avoid online videos or graphic novels until the end of the day. These make good rewards, but can be distracting midday. For preschoolers, try a clean-up song or talking through the next activity to make transitions smoother.
A typical school day rewards students with opportunities to show independence, help friends and overcome challenges. The shift to learning from home still gives children the chance to develop autonomy, practice empathy and use their skills — particularly when parents set up structures, then stand back to let children shine. Finding high-quality educational materials can be overwhelming. Here are a few resources that you might find useful.
Paper Based Materials
Writing by hand creates stronger memories and understanding, so try to include written assignments along with online options. Keep in mind that workbooks can cost more than online lessons, and delivery time could be slow during this current crisis.
Evan-Moor‘s comprehensive line of student workbooks allows kids as young as preschool to follow instructions, formulate responses and build concept knowledge.
The Math Learning Center offers free, printable materials that build a comfort with numbers in preschoolers through fifth graders.
Storyline Online is a fun website where professional actors read popular picture books aloud.
Children can build phonological awareness with the games and materials at Education.com.
Elementary readers can follow along with the text of stories at Storynory and practice skills from alphabetic awareness to reading fluency at Raz-Kids, which provides evidence-based structured literacy resources.
Storybird is a short story creation website with a beautiful interface and engaging prompts. Older kids can accept writing challenges created by experienced teachers or write their own tales, while preschoolers and kindergarteners can dictate stories to adults to type.
DragonBox provides engaging and colorful math games for preschool and elementary levels. It covers important concepts and has useful parent advice.
Greg Tang makes math fun and accessible for kindergarten and elementary students using games and puzzles that support an inquiry-based approach.
The Math Learning Center’s free apps for preschool to fifth grade students allow children to access online versions of favorite math games.
ABCMouse offers award-winning science games for preschoolers through second graders.
Secondary students can watch National Geographic Kids’ collection of videos, activities and online polls.
Parents of secondary school children can access Scholastic’s collection of news and nonfiction stories, with some available in Spanish.
The artist Mo Willems holds a weekly lunch-hour sketch fest. Join Mondays with Mo live on Mondays or catch the recorded “Lunch Doodle” sessions any time.
Google Arts & Culture offers access to museums across the globe, as well as curated selections focused on specific artists and cultural heritage sites.
Audio Books & Podcasts
The OverDrive app provides library access to audiobooks, as does Audible. Preschoolers can read along with the text of books like “Last Stop on Market Street,” while older children can get into series like “The Magic Treehouse” or “How to Train Your Dragon.”
Older children can enjoy Adam Gidwitz’s spooky fairy tale podcast, Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest.
Meditation recordings like those on Body Scan for Kids allow kids and parents alike to relax, especially at nap or bedtime.
Pre-school/Kindergarten Home Schooling Schedule Template
Elementary School Schedule Template
This article was written by professional primary, secondary and college tutor Kate Shillingford for 664Connect. The main source of information for this article is the New York Times.