July 20, 2020
by: Chad Welch, Community Impact Coordinator – Education
What if the Kids are Not Back at School in the Fall?
Here’s a question that may help focus you: Next year, in 5 years, in 10 years, in 20 years, what story do you want your kids to tell about this experience? My recommendations for “how to be” during a time of temporary / emergency education at home:
#1 Keep a positive Attitude!
Attitude: Coach, not their taskmaster.
- Try to have a spirit of we’re-all-in-this-together adventure.
- As the parent you will do best by adopting the role of cheerleader, coach and partner rather than taskmaster. Try to help shape the experience so that “the school” is the one generating assignments rather than you; you’re the facilitator and coach. Your job is to help them find resources they need to succeed.
- Do not generate separate busy work and try to make your child do it just for the sake of “doing school.”
- It’s ok not to have all of the answers. This teaches kids the real life lesson that learning is lifelong.
- Give kids ownership over goals for their learning.
- If something isn’t working, STOP and try something else. This is the time to experiment with different types of learning.
- Remember that everyone else is in the same situation. Do not worry about your child “falling behind.”
- If studying for state examinations/SATs is a concern for high schoolers, do it, but don’t increase the pressure more than the schedule disruption already has. With no other school going on, you can see this potentially as a more relaxed opportunity to get ahead of the game.
- A little fun goes a long way, especially in the middle of a bunch of stress. If your kid is enjoying her civics textbook, it’s not the moment to jump into math homework. There is no reason to be rigid about anything academic.
#2 Daily Routine Matters!
- Remember that the goal is to keep up the momentum of learning, not to imitate school.
- As you start the process of helping your child be educated at home, start with the easy wins, the stuff your kid is good at, to set the tone for the rest of the weeks. Have them teach you what THEY know; you’ll be surprised and delighted that they’ll teach you new things, and that can get you on the right foot. It reminds kids that learning is lifelong and can even be fun.
- Setting goals for the day might help you, but if it doesn’t, don’t do it. Don’t make “getting off track” into a big concern. The basic goal is “doing some useful school stuff” each day, if possible.
- Example of a routine: Birthday of the Day: As my kids were growing up, for about 10 years, we would sit around the dinner table with the Birthday of the Day. My wife and I consider this to be the routine that most contributed to our kids’ general cultural literacy. Each morning, we’d head to Wikipedia and search for that day’s date in the search bar. It tells what happened that day in history as well as who was born that day. We would choose one person and talk about him or her together, and talk about why he or she was important. We would also have the kids practice mental math: They’d figure out how old that person would be “today.” We would talk about the technology that was available to that person (cars? computers? telescopes?) and also what his or her daily life would have been like,
- One way to make this a little more fun is to set up a new, special workspace for your kids somewhere in your home. Find a corner, rearrange the furniture or clear away clutter, put out a couple of decorations, find some new notebooks, cover some folders with stickers, whatever. Infuse the process with whatever joy you can muster. It will signal a new beginning, a new adventure, and will be a key positive memory once this is all over and done, and, we hope, successfully in the past.