As a camp or class program manager, parents often turn to you to facilitate a portion of their child's educational development. But the COVID-19 pandemic has many parents scrambling, trying to teach their kids while they are out of school and out of programs like yours. Schools and programs throughout the country are canceled or closed, many indefinitely, and parents are feeling stranded, stressed and confused about how to keep kids occupied and learning.
So how do we deal with this indefinite time at home? How should parents go about home schooling their kids?
Below is a framework you can share with your program's parents to help them through this trying time, and remind them that you are always there to help.
Set a Schedule
Since they’ve already been home for several weeks, this period may seem like an extended holiday to a kid. Just like there is a schedule at school, keep one at home, and try to have it mimic their typical school day as much as possible.
Designate a Space
Because every kid has a different way of learning, there are no clear guidelines for arranging a learning space. One advantage of homeschooling is that it caters to each individual and how they learn best. If sitting at the kitchen table works, go for it. Others might do their best work on the front porch.
Because their world has been turned upside down, give your kids a voice when planning. While some kids have a defined online schedule, others may have much of their day unstructured. Give them a choice as to when and how they want to learn. With so much of their routine upended, this is the time for kids to have some control.
Give Them a Break
Just like your child’s regular school has breaks and downtime, so should the homeschool schedule. When that math word problem seems unsolvable and is just not coming together, a quick 20-minute break can do wonders.
Optimize the Outside
Most kids who are in a traditional school program will never get as much opportunity to go outside as they will during COVID-19. Go out and take a walk. There are many ways to learn, and exploring the outdoors is another layer of education.
Limit Your Online Searches
You know how you visit Pinterest for a craft idea and find yourself going down a rabbit hole, scrolling for hours? Embark on any educational homeschooling idea, and you can get easily overwhelmed. There are scores of online homeschooling blogs, resources and websites. Skim the sites, retrieve a couple of low-key, educational activities and be done with it.
Give your kids a chance for a passion project. Maybe your child has always wanted to learn to cook but never had time due to softball practice. Perhaps your soccer player wondered about painting. Sports? It’s never too late to learn a new game. Ask your child what they want to learn. Who knows? You might have a painter, cook, writer or scientist in the family. Check out these resources to help you get started:
- LUNCH DOODLES with Mo Willems! Learn to draw with the illustrator.
- Google Arts and Culture: an online platform through which the public can access high-resolution images of artworks in museums
- Waterlogue: transforms photos into luminous watercolors
- Storybird: make visual stories in seconds
- Food Network Cooking with Kids: easy recipes to cook with kids
- Minecraft: builds an incredible world, block by block
- Homecourt: a mobile app that uses artificial intelligence to record and track basketball shots, makes, misses and location (free through April)
- ACTIVE’s list of fitness apps for kids: a list of apps that keep kids engaged and moving.
If nothing else, take it easy. There is no playbook for these challenging times. If there were, we’d all be homeschooling influencers, writing a blog and giving advice on Instagram. Not every moment needs to be teachable. It’s OK if your kids get bored. They’ll figure out what to do. For most of us teaching our kids at home is something we’ve never done. Your homeschool techniques don’t have to be perfect—whatever they are.