Teaching Children at Home During Coronavirus: Homeschooling’ Expert Advice
We write a lot about student well-being at Education Week. But first, let’s talk about parent well-being, especially for those parents who have found themselves essentially homeschooling their children without notice.
An unprecedented number of schools have been closed for several weeks, with the possibility of more closures. Hundreds of millions of K-12 students across the country are out of school, and parents are being asked to help them learn. Even President Trump is encouraging families to educate their children at home whenever possible. That’s a massive undertaking. (For the most up-to-date information on school closures, go here.)
Some students are required to complete their schoolwork through the internet. Others are on a spring break that will last forever.
So, what do you do if you’re a parent seeking to supervise your children’s education while still being expected to continue working remotely? How do you maintain your sanity while ensuring that your children continue to learn, carving out time for yourself to work, finding your voice as a teacher, and staying sane?
Homeschooling are people who do this every day. Ed Week contacted a few of them for advice.
A lot of their advice revolves around one crucial factor: shifting mindsets.
How Do You Plan Your Day?
First, contrary to a lot of suggestions she’s seen online, Paul Leary, a home-schooling parent in Lowell, MA who also works part-time as a teacher, suggests ditching the daily schedules.
“Do not plan the day around a school day,” said Leary, whose oldest son attended home school and is now in college. Leary continues to home-school her 13-year-old son. The family was featured in the video series “Home Schooling in America” by Education Week.
Allow your children to sleep in if they are up late reading or playing video games, and use that time to work. After that, have a leisurely breakfast before returning to school.
“I believe parents are overly concerned with getting a schedule,” she said. “When everybody needs to be out of the house by a certain time, schedules are essential.”
If it’s too much to try to work and keep your kids on an educational mission at the same time, Leary recommends setting aside time for each. For instance, home school for an hour and then work for another hour.
Pam Leo, a Massachusetts state homeschooling mom, makes time for her other duties by front loading the school day—doing the rigorous subjects including math, science, and English in the morning and saving the afternoon for more self-directed work.
In an email to Ed Week, Leo explained, “They have had plenty of attention from me by that point, so they usually give me free time… so I can focus on running the household and fulfilling my duties for my volunteer positions.”
Don’t just concentrate on your children, Leo advised. “As a mum, I also believe it is important to take care of yourself, get good nutrition, rest, and exercise,” she added. “I do yoga in the mornings before the kids get out of bed, and I usually go for a run right before dinner. It helps me get through the rest of my day.”