Anyone else feel like they have been in the Twilight Zone, oh, since around the middle of March? I know I have. In one way, it has felt like the longest/shortest three months of my life. And I’m pretty sure my kids feel the same way.
Let me be clear. I am an educator. This is what I do for a living. I love what I do, and I love teaching. However, no one prepares you on how to teach your own children. It is a very different dynamic, and one I knew I was not prepared for, which is one of the reasons I never flirted with the idea of homeschooling. There are amazing moms out there who were doing this even before this pandemic hit, and I give them mad props. A teacher, or not, it has been a hard transition for most parents with homeschooling.
The scariest part for me as a parent is what my children missed out on those last two months they were not in the classroom. I am talking about math facts, English grammar rules, and all the things that they weren’t able to cover. Our teachers did an amazing job with remote teaching and hopefully everyone is realizing just how much our teachers do day in and day out for our children. But understandably, this pandemic has put our children at a disadvantage academically. Thankfully, there are several ways we can help our kids overcome this deficit while also not further traumatizing them (and their parents).
Take a Break
That is right! Take a break. It has been a hard last couple of months for you and your children. A solid couple of weeks of not doing anything academically is perfectly fine! Get out of the house now that things are starting to open up and enjoy being around people again. You can still socially distance and mingle. Kids have been locked up in the house away from anything that is familiar to them. Some normalcy, even a new normal for the moment, is important for a child to know everything is okay.
Let Them Lead the Way
Just because you are not sitting at a kitchen table hammering out word problems or drilling out sight words does not mean your kids cannot learn. Take a hike on one of the many beautiful BREC trails with nature abound; take a trip to the library to check out books on a subject of their choice; write letters to doctors who are on the frontline of COVID, thanking them for their service.
Let them decide what they would like to learn more about this summer and make it fun. You are probably now more privy to what they struggle with the most subject wise. Incorporate these strengthening activities with their interests. They will not even realize they are learning when you ask them to sort leaves by color and size. Cooking is a great way for kids to learn measurement, so make their favorite cookies, helping them lead the way. Play “I Spy” as you walk through the trails and then have them spell the words, sounding them out. Have them read a book that you checked out from the library, writing down sight words that they see as they go. But make sure it is something they find interesting. There is plenty of time to read what is required. You can still strengthen skills with a topic they enjoy.
Fill in the Gaps
One thing you have probably realized is that, as a parent, you do not enjoy learning third grade math or seventh grade science. That’s okay. You can ask for help! Your child’s teacher is a great resource to help fill in these gaps of your expertise. This is what they do for a living and they love it. I speak from experience. They have a wealth of knowledge that can help you with worksheets, online supplemental help, and apps that cover all subject areas. Technology is a big part of what your student is doing in the classroom, so it is a great way to help them learn at home as well. Balance is always key.
Another resource that is helpful to supplement at home instruction is to hire a private tutor. With the transition to online tutoring during COVID for most tutoring services, this is an easy way to help your student strengthen his or her skills from the comfort of your home while staying well. You always want to make sure, though, that you are getting the best help for the price you are paying. Only reputable tutoring companies hire tutors who have their degrees, and in most cases, are certified teachers. If you are paying top dollar for a tutor, they should be highly trained and have proven success. Make sure to ask this of any tutor you are hiring.
Remember that homeschooling has put us all in the same boat as parents. Administrators and teachers will have to take this into account when our students return to school in the fall. If the entire COVID experience has been too traumatic for your child, do what you think is best concerning supplemental help. Trust your parental instincts and know everything will be okay. You know your child better than anyone else.