Home-schooling students through the corona virus can be a unique opportunity
As Governor Noem announced another week of school closings, Gregory School District Superintendent Sara Anderson has had to concede that school will have to be taught at home, either by e-learning lessons on-line or by print lessons.
Because the school closing happened during the scheduled spring break, most students did not have the necessary books and other supplies at home, so were assigned times to pick them up on Monday, March 23. They were also allowed to take school laptops home.
Because this is the first time almost all parents have had to venture into the world of homeschooling for an extended period of time, knowing how to navigate the responsibility of insuring their children complete necessary work, and often having to try to help them with questions, can be a daunting experience. To help make the most of this time, long-time homeschooling mother, Fawn Swift, offered the following tips for parents.
1. Plan ahead. Pick a regular time and place that the children know they will be studying. It might take some experimenting to find what works for each particular family, but having a regular ebb and flow to life helps make school and chores less of an issue. Starting earlier in the day works best for our family. And of course, don’t get distracted with technology.
2. Get them started. Doing the first couple questions/problems with the child so you both know what is supposed to happen will prevent them from wasting time in frustration because he doesn’t know what to do.
3. It’s not what you expect, but what you inspect. Check to make sure the assignments are done.
4. Read. Encourage your children to read, but also read aloud to them, no matter their age. Not only is it a learning time, but it is a great way to bond and spend time together. Use what you have at home, or check out Sonlight.com for some great read-aloud titles by grade.
5. Get outside every day. Both parents and children benefit from the fresh air, exercise, and a break from school.
6. Explore new interests. This unexpected season of school from home should not take all day, which leaves time to investigate. At various times, I’ve asked my kids to make a list of things they want to learn. There are so many avenues for this. Cooking, identifying birds, learning Spanish, overhauling engines, making candles, tapping box elder trees for syrup, drawing/painting, learning an instrument, watching how something is made—these are all activities we have explored over the years, but the options are endless.
7. Enjoy being together and building relationships. You have the opportunity to spend time with them that you may never get again.
Motivation can really be a chal-lenge, especially in the beginning stages or when the work gets hard. For elementary ages, getting the material covered in the morning should be doable. Helping them focus on achieving that so they have the afternoon to pursue their interests can be beneficial. Rewarding students in their tough subjects can also be motivational. Setting a timer (either for dawdlers or in a tough subject) is one of the tools I have employed.
Although the Gregory School District is providing students with access to online education and/ or hard copy lessons during the shutdown, supplementing with other tools can help kids explore interests they don’t have time for during the school year. Outschool. com offers courses on a variety of subjects, starting at $5 per class. ProdigyGame.com is a free math program with games and instruction to supplement a math curriculum. Khan Academy has free online courses, lessons, and practice exercises.
Have the mindset that this situation is an opportunity rather than a hardship, and make the most of it. Your response can make the difference between having a difficult situation or a unique time of learning and spending time together.