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Ways to Make School at Home Eas­i­er Dur­ing the COVID-19 Pandemic

By, Mar­i­anne Rogen­s­ki, KYC Pre­ven­tion Specialist

Many of us are now work­ing from home and that might mean we are shar­ing spaces with our part­ners and chil­dren. This requires adjust­ments to rou­tine, man­ag­ing time dif­fer­ent­ly, and fig­ur­ing out how to com­plete our own tasks while help­ing our chil­dren with theirs.

I home­schooled my two chil­dren for 8 years while work­ing a part-time job of my own. While my sit­u­a­tion was obvi­ous­ly dif­fer­ent — I chose to home­school and was not forced because of shel­ter-in-place orders — I feel that I learned some lessons that may help in the time we are cur­rent­ly in.

First, school at home does not and should not be exact­ly like school in a school build­ing. I tried to mim­ic school at first and found that it did not work for my chil­dren. While a rou­tine is help­ful, that rou­tine should be unique for each child. I found that it was best to let my chil­dren find what worked for them. My son thrived on struc­ture and want­ed to plan when he would work on math, Eng­lish, social stud­ies, etc. How­ev­er, my daugh­ter worked bet­ter if she could do what she felt like doing at any giv­en moment. While my son’s days all looked very sim­i­lar, my daughter’s days were not at all. The impor­tant thing was that they were both learn­ing and it was far less stress­ful when they were able to cre­ate rou­tines that worked for them. 

Sec­ond, take lots of breaks! Once your child com­pletes a task, have them go out­side and run around or get a snack. Brain breaks are impor­tant before mov­ing on to the next sub­ject or assign­ment. Things like read­ing a chap­ter of a favorite book, tak­ing the fam­i­ly dog for a walk, col­or­ing, or build­ing with Legos are all great ways to refresh before tack­ling the next thing.

Third, school at home does not need to be a full 6 hours. Schools need that amount of time each day because the teach­ers have 20 or more stu­dents in each class­room and they need time to get every­one ready to learn, take bath­room breaks, tran­si­tion between sub­jects and trav­el when stu­dents go to PE, art, music, etc. At home, one child can com­plete an assign­ment or task fair­ly quick­ly. One thing I had to learn with my own chil­dren was that it was ok if the math work­sheet only took five min­utes! That doesn’t mean that they need more busy work; that means that they under­stood the les­son and can move on!

Fourth, there are so many oppor­tu­ni­ties to have fun with your child while they are doing school at home! Some­times teach­ers don’t have time to do all of the exper­i­ments and great visu­al or active exam­ples that they would like to do. Now is a great time to look up fun exper­i­ments, do PE with your chil­dren, read togeth­er and use fun voic­es for the char­ac­ters in the sto­ry, cook with your chil­dren and teach them frac­tions and units of mea­sure­ment, and so much more! Life with you, the par­ent, is nat­ur­al learn­ing and that is valu­able! It is an inde­scrib­able feel­ing to see your child grasp a con­cept or get tru­ly excit­ed about learn­ing. So, in the midst of this chaos of a pan­dem­ic — look for those small but mean­ing­ful moments.

Final­ly, and prob­a­bly most impor­tant­ly, it is ok to take an hour or a day off — even if it is not planned by the school. We are all in an uncer­tain time. No one has lived through a pan­dem­ic before and we are all respond­ing dif­fer­ent­ly to the shel­ter-in-place orders. In fact, we all have days that are fine and days that are not and that is nor­mal. Some­times school just doesn’t work on a par­tic­u­lar day and that is okay. When I was doing home­school with my kids we had days when one of my chil­dren just could not seem to under­stand lessons or could not focus. This frus­trat­ed me at first, but I learned that in those moments the best thing to do was set the task aside and come back to it in an hour, three hours, or even the next day. There is noth­ing wrong with call­ing it a day after 30 min­utes if that is what is need­ed. The men­tal well-being of you and your chil­dren is the most impor­tant thing right now so don’t sweat it if the day does not go as planned. 

Do your best, hug and love on your chil­dren, and let them know that we will all get through this together.

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Mar­i­anne works with our Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lab­o­ra­tion Team, engag­ing young peo­ple in pos­i­tive, healthy lifestyles. To learn more about the work and the Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lab­o­ra­tion team, vis­it their web­site at https://​www​.cpy​d​coali​tion​.org/.


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