From Eric Dickens, assistant professor of educational studies
Tips for parents teaching kids at home during COVID-19:
- Deciding what your child could and should be learning is a big challenge. Some schools and teachers may be sending work home that keeps students moving through their plan for the year, but some parents may not be getting this kind of material and guidance. If not, try reaching out to your child’s teachers to learn as much as you can about what learning standards and assignments the students had been working on and were going to be learning about for the rest of the school year. Most students will enter new grade levels next year, and your child’s teachers will expect/assume a certain amount of background knowledge from what they learned this year. It’s a good idea to make sure your child is making progress toward being ready for next year, and not just doing “busy work.”
- Homeschooling parents and teachers might be tempted to try to replicate the classroom assignments at home, but obviously the classroom and home setting are very different! Try to “rethink” your child’s learning at home–learning not as copying what students do in the classroom, but as engaging “home work.” Research on home work best practices says it is most effective when it takes advantage of learning a child can do only at home, instead of being “classwork done at home.” Instead of having your child working on “paper and pencil” assignments like worksheets, reading textbook chapters, and watching instructional videos, try to create ways to play with the same ideas using things found only at home–family members, outside spaces, objects from around the house. There are YouTube videos and homeschooling websites to help generate ideas for at home learning that is play- and project-based and takes advantage of people, spaces, and objects kids have at home.
- Developmentally speaking, children and adolescents really benefit from having a structure to their day. At school, children usually have set schedules, but at home those time blocks may be gone and replaced by large chunks of time. Create a daily schedule and routines for your child, maybe ones that copy their daily school schedule. Do your kids start the day with a morning meeting? When do they have recess? How long are their class periods or blocks? Giving your child a structure with “progress checks” and deadlines throughout the day will help them self-regulate their own learning.