Slider

OPINION | More schooling-at-home tips for parents

Editorials & Columns
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

HAGÅTÑA — The tradition of combining two words into one to describe a merged concept is called portmanteau.

Of French origin, it means a linguistic blend of words. Some common portmanteaux are the blend of motor and hotel to become motel, volunteer and told to become voluntold, stay at or near home and vacation to become staycation.

This blend of seeming opposites gives us some insight on how we might look at this new operating reality of schooling-at-home. As I’ve pointed out before, while homeschooling is not new, it is a deliberate choice by parents to opt for an alternative to sending their children to public or private institutions of learning. Families who opt for homeschooling are typically prepared for it and have the resources to make it work.

There are fundamental differences between choosing to homeschool and accepting the reality of the new-normal caused by the pandemic; forcing families to directly engage in the delivery of their children’s school-based curriculum.

We often hear from parents how helping kids with homework is challenging enough with new math, and other radically different methods of learning than when they were at school. “Thank God for Google” is a frequent sigh. So, these times call for helping with “homework” and providing technical assistance on steroids. Children learn about the world they live in, about emotions, culture and values, responsibilities and obligations, and about family life every day at home. So learning is by no means new to the home environment. But for most families, schooling at home is. This added responsibility calls for different strategies than what we are used to.

Consider the concept, staycation. At face value it appears contradictory. Taking a vacation typically means departing from your routine, often going away from home to enjoy something entirely different. Then, rising gas prices, shrinking wages and travel restrictions caused families to stay at home or close to home when vacationing. Thus, a new concept emerged to describe a totally different way of going on vacation while remaining at home. This required families to rethink and reorganize routines so that staycations would reap the benefits of traditional vacations away from home and work.

Schooling-at-home must be viewed in a similar way. Studies that have recently been published about education in the time of Covid-19 from India, Africa, New Zealand, England and from the U.S. all agree that planning and organization is key. Home routines have to be restructured. This means you have to create a schedule with your school-aged children that simulates a regular school day for each child. And, if you are working from home, the schedule needs to include time to get your work done as well.

Designating and preparing a specific "study space" free of distractions for both parents and the students in the family is the first step. Then, there is the daily routine. Children should wake up at the same time they would for school. They need to change out of pajamas - for some private school students this includes getting into their uniforms - have breakfast and be ready to start the school day on time.

Identify period blocks to focus on each subject. Students also need rest breaks and recreation built into their day. Set alarms to signal the end of a period. Be sure to incorporate family reading time and fun projects. Include outdoor activities and exercise. Limit screen time to learning activities during regular “school hours.” Recreational screen time should be shortened so that students don’t suffer from technology fatigue.

Whether your children receive instruction online or through paper packets, review lessons and worksheets to ensure your children understand directions and expectations. Help them assess their completed work.

There are several compelling reasons for these routines. The transition back to in-person schooling will not be as difficult. Additionally, children need parameters to guide the way they spend their time. They are already coping with the anxiety, social isolation from family and friends, and chaos caused by the pandemic. Predictable, familiar activities are calming and they restore order and a sense of purpose and safety in the lives of children during these turbulent times.

Shadow
Slider
previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider

Visit our Facebook Page

previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider