As public and private schools across the United States close their doors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, parents and guardians are stepping up as home school teachers. While parents are glad to shelter their kids from the pandemic, most moms and dads are underprepared and overwhelmed at the thought of managing lesson plans, online conferences with teachers, and schoolwork on top of their new work-from-home commitments.
How Parents Can Manage Work, Childcare and Home School
Keep a regular schedule
Just as parents must maintain some normalcy as they do their jobs remotely, kids need the same regularity and routine.
Parents can keep kids on schedule by:
- Waking them up the same time every morning (like a normal school day)
- Serving them a quick, healthy breakfast
- Getting them dressed in school clothes. (Some parents are even driving their kids around the block to give them the feeling of arriving at school)
- Setting an alarm for the start of the school day, which will act as a school bell
Set up a home classroom
Kids aren’t in learning mode if they’re wearing pajamas, sinking into the sofa.
Ways that parents can create a fun learning environment at home:
- Turn the kitchen table, or other surface, into a school desk
- Keep books, learning props and pencils in reach
- Set individual seats with custom place mats with each child’s name
- Set up a makeshift teacher’s desk, complete with a red grading pen and desk plate
- Hang a chalkboard or white board and keep a checklist of assignments
- Create a reward system with fun stamps or stickers
Take “recess” breaks
Make sure students can break away from their laptop screens and books! A fun learning environment also includes recess breaks, snack time and even nap time for pre-school aged children. Though social distancing should be maintained, and many businesses and destinations are closed, parents can still create mini field trips!
Parents can have fun working and teaching from home by:
- Setting up a 30 minute recess each day
- Taking the students outside for fresh air
- Creating a fun outside lunch picnic
- Taking a daily or weekly field trip. (Host science class or do art projects outside!)
- Setting up a snack station (and coffee station for yourself!)
Space lessons out – devote an hour per day for each subject.
COVID-19 has changed our daily lives dramatically. As more and more people spend their days at home, routines are harder to maintain. It’s important to prevent apathy by breaking lessons up into manageable time blocks. If time and curriculum allows, parents should spend about an hour per day on each school subject.
Although they seem obvious, the following daily habits can help maintain stability and growth as kids go to school from home:
- Create a class bell! Set an alarm on your phone to sound every 1.5 hours. Each time it sounds, check with each child’s progress and give them a brief break before moving to the next assignment or subject
- Work with your child’s teacher to set up regular face time each day, or a couple days per week as time allows
- Keep the same class schedule each school day. If math class is at 9 am on Monday, keep it the same each week day
- Set an end-of-day alarm at 3 pm! Separate school (and work) from personal time by creating a real ending to the day
Follow guidelines provided by your school district
School districts across the United States are responding quickly to COVID-19 prevention and school closings. Many districts, such as Duval County in Florida, have programs such as “Duval Homeroom.” Through programs like this, which will begin with an online orientation, curriculum and courses are set up online. Learning packets for small children are also provided and delivered to bus stops. Free lunches are still available for pick up, while some are even being delivered to bus stops! Parents with limited access to technology can request a laptop. Resources are readily available to assist parents with homeschooling their children.
Teachers are on board and prepared to assist in home schooling efforts, especially for special needs children. “It’s important for parents to relax and allow their children to adapt to the new way of learning away from the classroom,” says Duval County fourth grade teacher Mrs. Fuller. “Don’t freak out or force worksheets on your kids. In fact, the routines for elementary should only include one to two hours of academic instruction, with breaks,” she adds.
Parents across the US should stay in contact with their child’s school district leaders and teachers, who are available to provide coaching, learning materials and meals for students.
Check out these helpful tips from parents:
- “I make a lesson plan that also includes time to play games or chill out for breaks, and I make the plan from 8 to 4,” says Chloe, mom to 7-year-old Kaylee.
- “We put a lunchbox on the counter with her cup and snacks for the day to prevent her raiding the pantry more than usual,” says Stephanie, mom to 4-year-old Mae.
- “When working from home, let the kids sleep in a little later. You can get up early and get your important things done first,” says Nichole, home school parent, and mother of 3 teenage girls.
- “Some parents drive their kids around the block to give the feeling of being dropped off at school,” says Nick, dad to 3 girls.
As the US works to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s imperative to continue to encourage regular hand washing – even at home! Just as teachers have promoted regular hand washing at school, parents should do the same at home.