When schools initially shut down in March because of the coronavirus, it felt like every parent on the planet let out a collective groan. Don’t get us wrong; it’s not like we wouldn’t do anything for our children. But let’s be honest — how many of us have a teaching degree? Not many. And even if we do, how many of us were prepared to homeschool our kids for the last two and a half months of school? None of us.
But we stayed positive, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our kids’ real teachers, and did the best we could — all with the thought process that, well, it’s only temporary. But how long is “temporary?”
Summer is over, school has started, and many of the nation’s largest school districts — including those right here in Denton County — are either closed to in-person learning for the entire academic year or are doing a combination of in-person and virtual learning. As parents, that means our role as parent-teachers is far from over. And you may be wondering, how do I get my kids off on the right foot without messing this up?
Communicate with teachers — Keep an open dialogue with your kids’ teachers. Be proactive. Ask questions, even if they sound silly. Communicate when things are going great and especially when things are going wrong (your child is sick, they’re not completing work, you’re having problems juggling their routine with your full-time job, etc.). Teachers understand that we’re all in this together and that everything right now is imperfect. They are eager to help.
Follow lesson plans — School officials are communicating with parents and students to accommodate every learning style, grade level, physical need, and situation so that no student — or parent — is left behind. This includes providing students and parents with access to virtual lesson plans and other resources for all grade levels and making sure teachers are equipped to handle a new way of disseminating content.
Seek out available resources — To complement existing lesson plans, seek out additional resources to set you and your child up for success. There are online and community resources galore to help fill in the gaps. For example, the Lake Dallas Public Library is offering FREE tutoring. Learning centers such as Sylvan Learning Centers are a great resource to hone in on areas in your child’s continuing education that need a little pick me up (math, science, etc.). Other parents are also a valuable resource. What’s working for them? What advice can they give you?
It’s okay to be flexible — Don’t get hung up on sticking to a rigid schedule. As long as your child is getting the required work completed on-time, adjust your schedule on the go. This can include spending more time on certain subjects than others. You can also build a schedule that takes advantage of times of the day when the kids are alert and engaged, and you are not tied up with work responsibilities.
Create a defined learning space — Just like you have a specific space you prefer to work or lounge, your children deserve a similar spot in the home to call their own. Call it their “learning space” and get them excited about it. More importantly, make sure it is separated from where they normally sleep, watch TV, play, etc.
Talk with your kids — Make sure your children understand that summertime is over. School has started, and even though everything looks and feels different, their education is no less important. Be real with them; tell them that you are going to do everything in your power to be their teacher and that it’s important that everyone works together. If you have older children, ask them what a typical routine looks like for them and encourage them to get involved in their own learning as well as their younger siblings’ learning schedule.
We hope you found this article helpful, but it’s merely the tip of the iceberg. What is working well for you and your children? Let us and other parents know on social media. We are all in this together.