From Joel Estes, Visiting Instructor and Chair, Educational Studies
Families have varying abilities to address their children’s educational needs during the pandemic. Some are limited by internet access, some have limited time to work with kids at home, some have vastly changed home circumstances (additional people in the home, at home job responsibilities, unemployment, etc.) Many families with children in K-12 schools are facing difficult and dire circumstances. With that being said, I would give the following recommendations:
- Connect with your child’s school and district. Try to follow their guidelines and use their resources. Most school districts in Illinois have adopted elearning systems and some have even provided tablets and internet access. Some are providing food for kids during the shutdown. Use those resources!
- Parents should make sure to continue to do what they’ve always done as their children’s first teachers: read with them, play games, allow them to help with family chores like cooking, yardwork, and cleaning. This will not only keep kids’ brains stimulated, it will make them feel like they’re a part of the team. They need to know that we’re all in this together.
- Finally, I would advocate that parents limit their children’s screen time. With elearning there will already be a healthy dose of that, and there’s lots of research out there that proves the negative effects of too much time watching TV, using the computer, or being on cell phones. Parents should also be aware of the media that they have playing in the home. Just having the television turned on to nonstop news coverage and running in the background may have negative effects on your child’s psyche.
In addition to academics, parents should focus on the social and emotional needs of their children. This pandemic is tough on everyone, but children are the most vulnerable and can easily absorb tension and worry from their parents. Above all, parents should model patience, adaptability, and positivity. They should make sure that they are reassuring and positive with their children. Make sure that your kids know everything is going to be okay.