Posted on May 11th, 2020 by George Farmer
One important fact that COVID-19 has taught the world is that teaching is a skill. There is a profound deeper appreciation for the teaching profession and school systems. Overnight, COVID-19 forced caregivers across the country to become home instruction teachers for their children. Without any formal teacher training, teacher’s guide, or manuals, caregivers are expected to execute the daily academic instruction for students.
To further add to the stress of becoming a teacher overnight, is the balance between a caregivers’ work of providing for the family and delivering the daily instructional needs for children. The stress of work and meetings, coupled with the sounds of an exasperated child bewildered by their academics, can send the most patient parent to their knees.
The responsibility of wearing multiple hats is not an easy task. Consider the notion that over the decades, teachers have become more than just teachers. To maintain student engagement, teachers have to perform extraordinary acts. Taking advantage of instructional time requires teachers to be judicious in bathroom allocation, counselors to resolve classroom disputes, and nurse assistants to assess student symptoms. Similarly, parents have been forced to do the same in addition to their parental duties. Balancing a workday with student learning while planning for lunch and naps is no easy task. Virtual meetings are half-heartedly attended because family needs are more impressing and immediate.
A common theme amongst parents is the idea of children being frustrated with their parental help or losing academic focus during this home school period. Consider the context of home, home is a place where people leave all the worries of the day behind. Generally, walking through home doors means finding time to relax. The comfort of home is sacred for children also, which makes home school difficult for children. The compartmentalization of home and school is one specific challenge for students. The home setting for students is full of distractions. Infusing school into the home setting can be difficult and is even more magnified when the transition is overnight.
While COVID-19 forced caregivers to begin homeschooling overnight, for some, homeschooling is a routine. Reality is, homeschooling has become increasingly more trendy over the years. Over the past twenty years, homeschooling has increased for various reasons. The encouraging piece is that it is possible to successfully home school children until schools reopen. For the sustainable future, caregivers must find practical solutions to maintain high levels of academic success while homeschooling. Below are a few strategies to help ease the difficulty of virtual learning during COVID-19.
Sustainable Homeschooling Strategies During COVID-19
- 2-3 Hours Per Day
The task of homeschooling can be daunting if caregivers are under the impression of fulfilling and sustaining a student’s attention for an entire school day. On average, home school requirements range between two-three hours per day. Two to three hours per day is a realistic schedule for caregivers to sustain. Older students are more independent than younger students and, in most cases, can sustain more than two-three hours of daily instruction. While most families are working from home, the two-three hours per day approach may prove invaluable. Engaging children for two-three hours of academic work may enable caregivers to attend to their work. After completing the two to three hours of academic work, students can engage in self-sufficient activities such as arts and crafts, gym, reading, or simply relaxing. Self-sufficient activities can enable parents to attend to their work responsibilities.
- Create Space
The home environment can create opportunities for distractions. Television, video games, and the pure comfort of the bedroom create distractions. Create workspaces that enable creative thinking and are free from distractions. An adequate workspace provides a working environment for students to eliminate distractions and dedicate the proper focus to their academics. Providing a dedicated workspace will help to keep student assignments organized.
- Create Routines
Predictability is a strength of the educational system. Students know their schedules, which adds a layer of comfort, security, and independence. Creating routines involves knowing the learning goals and assignments students are to complete on that day. Knowing learning goals and assignments will guide the instructional time caregivers and students, leaving a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
As the country looks to move forward and leave COVID-19 in the past, the reopening of schools this school year is unlikely. While some states are eager to open, other states are taking a more cautious approach. The best approach for governors is to protect students and educators and not rush back to school. To be safe, caregivers should plan for extended school closures into the fall of 2020. While homeschooling can be difficult and frustrating, nothing takes priority over health and safety. As we near the end of the academic year, now is the time for families to share tips and strategies to help each other get through difficult times. The balance between parenting and teaching can be cumbersome, but the bonds built can never be broken.