If you’re a parent of school-aged children, then you, like many others have suddenly been tasked with the challenge of homeschooling your kids during quarantine. Luckily, you’re not alone. And together, we can help each other navigate these uncertain times.
Most parents are good with quick homework help, a school project, or the occasional book report. But suddenly becoming your child’s full time teacher while also juggling working from home and other household responsibilities can feel daunting and stressful.
When Covid-19 hit, Laura Diaz-Alberto found herself not only becoming her children’s teacher, but also becoming an online student herself. Owner and founder of LaDi, a clothing line focusing on making maternity-wear fashionable, Laura was in the process of completing a business certification program with SHCCNJ when the quarantine began. Now the classes have been moved online where Laura attends virtual sessions via Zoom. Thank goodness for technology!
Being a student herself has given her a glimpse into what her children are also experiencing during the shift to homeschooling. For students of all ages this transition has been a learning experience. While we live in a technology-driven age, many school systems across the country have resisted changing their 150-year-old structure. Online tools have been used in the classroom to aid in learning, but aside from universities, it is rare for schools to offer full-online courses, and schools have been slow to fully take advantage of the technological resources available to them. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced this to change at accelerated speed.
As the U.S. went on lock-down in March, schools across the country had to scramble to move all their courses to virtual classrooms. Now, children and parents are tasked with navigating daily log-ins, online assignments, lecture videos, and even virtual real-time class sessions. It’s a lot to manage, and it can be especially hard on young children who are not as familiar with using technology.
“One of our three boys is a 5-year-old in kindergarten,” says Laura, “so we have to sit with him through the entire process everyday and help him access files, upload files, and help him type and spell on his own.”
Laura, luckily, has her husband working from home, so the two of them are taking turns with the distance learning and household responsibilities. Dividing up tasks between family members is one great strategy for tackling the issue of homeschooling your kids during quarantine. It can be stressful to try and do everything yourself, and during this time it is important that as parents you also take care of yourself. Children will be relying on the adults in their lives for emotional support and stability, so keeping the stress down especially with homeschooling will make the process smoother for everyone.
5 Tips for homeschooling your kids during quarantine
- Establish Routines: Covid-19 has completely disrupted our way of life and filled us all with uncertainty. For children, this uncertainty can be frightening. Many children thrive on routines and suddenly pulling them from their teachers, peers, and learning environments can be unsettling. To help your kids adapt to this new world of online homeschooling, try to establish some sort of schedule. It does not have to be rigid, and in fact flexibility might be more helpful especially if you are a parent who is also working from home. But a simple routine will greatly help your child adjust and know what to expect from each day. Check out some of these guides and templates available to help you get started.
- Stay Organized: Along with developing a schedule, parents should keep all their child’s school materials in one organized space dedicated to their homeschooling. Most children are used to having the classroom as their dedicated learning space. This space signals to them that they are no longer at home and that it is time to learn. While it will be difficult to convince your child that they are no longer “home” during their schooling time, providing a quiet, organized space for them to learn will help them get back into “school mode” during the learning portion of their day.
- Minimize Distractions: Building off the previous tip, make sure your child’s space is distraction-free when they are in “school-mode.” This includes parent-distractions. Turn off your phone or put it out of reach, unless needed for schooling. Be present with your child and set boundaries with other family members that this time is learning time. It can be difficult to stay focused when in the comfort of your own home, surrounded by distractions. But enforcing a routine, in an organized space, with minimal distractions will greatly help your child adjust to homeschooling.
- Take Breaks: That being said, another important tip to remember, one that we often forget, is to take breaks! Just like in school, kids get breaks for meal-times and recess. At home, you have even more flexibility. Instead of powering through hours of schooling in one block of time, consider breaking things up into smaller blocks. During your breaks, have a snack, take a walk and get some fresh air, play games, dance around your living room, stretch, do a craft project, sing songs–have fun. Laura and her family have been using this time together to take a pause from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. For them it has been a time filled with lots of movies, games, music, workouts, and food. It’s all about balance and finding the right mix of work and play to keep things interesting and engaging for your children.
- Set Goals: Setting goals gives us all something to work towards and look forward to. During these times, the future feels uncertain. Your kids are also facing that uncertainty, and school may feel useless to them when they cannot see the future ahead. Help your child set learning goals to ease their anxieties and give them something tangible to look forward to, and set your own goals with them. Goals should be a mix of both long-term and short-term goals. For example, one goal could be a simple checklist of steps such as “read one chapter” or “complete worksheet assignment.” Other goals can be larger such as finishing a whole book or completing a project.
Parents can set their learning goals too
Laura has also set her own goals alongside her children’s learning goals during this quarantine. As a more creative-minded person, she has been using this time to become more oriented on the business end of things for her company, LaDi. The business certification program, along with her own projects, are helping her learn and grow alongside her kids during this time.
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“I have used this time to do market research, to learn, and to strategize. I am also almost finished working on a brand new independent website,” Laura says. “I will be a better business woman after this and I’m super thankful for that.”
Covid-19 has brought a lot of changes to our lives, but we can all use this time to learn together and advance our goals. Homeschooling your kids during quarantine does not have to be daunting or stressful. As parents, you can help your children continue their education by providing a flexible and fun learning environment. And you too can learn alongside your kids. Together we will make it through this time, and hopefully come out the other end with a few new skills, accomplished goals, and an appreciation for learning.