As of Friday, March 20, almost all public and private schools have closed face-to-face class time. Leaving school-age children at home with their parents, still needing to learn age-appropriate material five days out of the week. Most of the districts have gotten their classes working on Zoom or another video conferencing source. That being said, “districts and states vary wildly in their ability to deliver educational services at a time of social isolation.” The sole responsibility for kids’ educations has now fallen on the parents, even with potential virtual classrooms. While parents should always have a vested interest in their child’s education, it is rare that they are in a position where they are schooling children from home. If you are a parent who is now working remotely, or one who is now out of work entirely and are home full-time, the coronavirus has certainly disrupted your daily routine and now your child has to look to you for scholarly guidance. It is important to let kids be kids during uncertain times, it is also important to keep their minds active and ensure they are constantly learning. Experts weighed in on how to help your children through online learning and being confined to your home 24/7. If you are still at a loss as to how to get children to focus and make the best of this situation, pay attention to some of their advice.
Inform Kids About Coronavirus
Your children are likely wondering why school is closed in the first place. Schooling children from home is not only about math and science, but they should also have some knowledge of current events, too. Explain to them that it’s not a vacation, but don’t make it seem like the end of the world either. Inform them about self-isolation and why it is important, and keep in mind the rumors and untruths they have likely heard from peers. Parenting coach Dr. Richard Horowitz urges parents to “factually explain, in age-appropriate language, what the virus is and its impact on children’s health.” They should be assured that you, as their parent, are doing everything in your power to keep them safe and their only job is to follow the rules put in place for their safety. Keep your own anxiety to a minimum because children will feed off this, but also be open to talking to them when they want to voice their needs or concerns.
Maintain Structure and Flexibility While Schooling Children from Home
If your child is able to stay connected with their school during this time, make sure to support them in any way possible. Familiarize yourself with the expectations and schedule of the school, and ensure that you are enforcing those same guidelines. If your family is in a district that still does not have access to an online class setting, you may need to devise your own lesson plans and a makeshift classroom setting. TheHomeSchoolMom.com founder Mary Ann Kelley insists that “the order in which the work is done is less important than the environment and method of implementing the schedule.” As with any structured environment, you will still need to cater to however your child needs when it comes to learning. For instance, Kelley suggests active children “may focus best if they are allowed to move while working.” She also advises that “the optimum homeschool schedule is one that keeps an individual child with his or her unique needs engaged.” A great study tip will also work in a class setting: change settings regularly, and work in short periods of time, multiple times a day to avoid boredom and loss of focus. Lastly, ensure your child is getting plenty of time outdoors and being active in place of their PE class. Kelley offers great physical education tips and tricks on her website.
Online Educational Resources
Finding inspiration for different activities and topics can be exhausting. Many learning companies are now offering their learning tools for free during the coronavirus epidemic. There are plenty of books, videos, and other materials to choose from, covering a range of topics. If you feel your child needs more help on a certain subject they are learning through virtual schooling, teachers are also a great resource. Reach out through email and many teachers will be more than happy to suggest further reading or viewing material.
Mind Mental Health
Keep in mind that your child may be scared of what is going on in the world right now. While they may not have access to their counselors at school, there are plenty of organizations and doctors that will help you and your family virtually. For children, The Child Mind Institute is a great online resource with material from clinical experts and the use of online chats via Facebook Live. Further, through telemedicine, many therapists and counselors now offer their services through Skype and other platforms. Your insurance provider should be able to give you a list of therapists they cover, you can further research doctors in your area that may offer this service.
Enjoy Family Time in Quarantine
Family bonding can still be stimulating for children in many ways. Many experts suggested puzzles as one way to stimulate school-age children. Puzzles can be worked on for hours or even days at a time. Board games or games that require creativity are great ways to engage the whole family. Further, schooling children from home can be a positive way to allow them to express themselves through projects of their choosing. Art projects are a fun way to allow children to express themselves; children of all ages enjoy art through various mediums. Use the time away from school work to enjoy family, and have some friendly competition. Games are also a great way for young children to learn to follow rules that are set out for them, as well as good sportsmanship.
Since your children will be wrapped up in technology while going to school, have them step away from the electronics and read a book of their choice as a leisure activity. Reading a book will also help lengthen a child’s attention span, which will help them excel in later education and an eventual career. While libraries and book stores are not open at the moment, most libraries offer an online database where members can check out books on their tablets or e-readers. Also, many grocery stores (i.e. Walmart, Sam’s Club, etc) have a section for books and games where you can pick up some quality material. Especially if your child is struggling to cope in these trying times, “bibliotherapy” could be “the best antidote for the psychological toll of a socially distanced life.”
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