Structure, communications key to covid-19 homeschooling

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Structure, communications key to covid-19 homeschooling
Make sure your child knows that their job during this crisis is to do their schoolwork. (Photo courtesy Hal Gatewood)

Schools across West Virginia will remain closed for at least the next two weeks, forcing students to continue learning and completing coursework from home. Tough is it may be, structure and digital communications may be the key.

Kerri Carte and Sarah Owen of the West Virginia University Extension Service are providing a few tips to help make this experience a little easier on the whole family.

Kerri Carte, an associate professor at the university and a Kanawha County agent, recommends using outreach methods to help students maintain communications with teachers and other students and to explore virtual teaching landscapes.

  • “If you have a younger child that’s struggling with a worksheet, don’t push it. "Simply put the worksheet aside, and maybe look at it later. You can reach out to a teacher for assistance, but if your child gets frustrated and upset, your learning environment is not going to be good, and that’s not going to help your child. Stay calm, try to do what you can do, and support your child.”
  • “For older children, have them reach out to their friends. They can connect via telephone or an online chat system. This is especially helpful if the child is struggling in that topic. Encourage them to reach out to a friend who has a better understanding of the topic, and they will get through the information together.”
  • “If your child’s school hasn’t sent home schoolwork, or you’d like to supplement their learning, don’t worry. There are many opportunities to be taken advantage of online. For example, the Smithsonian operates over 20 museums. They’ve got many of their exhibits online with pictures and information. And some places, like the Cincinnati Zoo, are even offering live streams.
  • "Every day, they’re doing a home safari series, where they’ll introduce you to an animal, give you some information about that animal as well as some follow up activities you can do. These are great resources that we need to take advantage of during this time."

Sarah Owen, a 4-H youth agriculture program coordinator, says that structure will be a necessity, though parents should keep in mind that a home is not a school.

  • “Make a workspace for each of your children. Set up a place that has all that they will need for completing their daily assignments. Also, set a schedule for how you want your daily home life to go while you are schooling from home. Include regular waking and bedtimes, meal times, school times, outdoor and exercise times, chore time, free time and reading time."
  • “Take breaks often. Kids have very short attention spans. First graders can stay on task for only about 12 minutes, and even your freshman may only be able to focus for about 30 minutes at a time. So, allow your kids to take regular but short breaks from their schoolwork. Also, don’t be afraid to embrace that your home is not a school. Let your kids move around the house to tackle different subjects.”
  • “Set expectations and hold your kid accountable. Make sure your child knows that their job during this crisis is to do their schoolwork so that you can do the important work of keeping your family safe and healthy. Then, be sure to reward their progress. Acknowledge the successes they have throughout the day, even if there are many times that they fall short."
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