In these uncertain times, families are having to adjust to what the upcoming school year will look like. Questions about how, whether, and when schools will operate loom over many households. As a parent who has participated in various learning settings in the last several decades, I feel that there are many lessons homeschools offer that we can use to encourage families with school children during COVID-19. Here some insights into learning outside of traditional classrooms that members of the homeschool community have been generous enough to share.
Lesson 1: Sharing is caring.
Homeschoolers remind parents that they do not need to know everything. Your fellow classroom parents may draw on a similar model to formalize the sharing of teaching tips and additional resources. COVID-19 creates an opportunity to come together as a community for combined learning time — virtually or socially distanced (if your quarantining practices align).
Lesson 2: Identify existing resources you can tap into.
Just because class field trips likely won’t be a thing this school year, doesn’t mean they can’t happen for your child. Opportunities to learn outside are especially beneficial in a COVID-19 learning environment. Studying geology in school? Cool. Build your own field trip to a state park. They’ll read the textbook, sure, but then plan a weekend with your child to explore what erosion looks like in real life.
Lesson 3: We never stop learning.
We often think that only school equals learning, when, in fact, we are all learning all the time. In a hybrid model between traditional/virtual schooling in the time of COVID-19, this may offer opportunities to expand our ideas of learning. This may even be liberating for families who understand school as that which was structured before March of 2020. Parents may get stuck on models of learning that are very 2019, take a moment to seize the possibilities. The more we can retain learning as an exciting and positive endeavor, the better off our children will be.
Lesson 4: Honor the individual gifts of your child’s learning style.
If you have more than one child, it’s likely they have very different learning styles. Children all respond to different things at different times. I was a child who was not neuro-typical. I did not learn according to any set schedule. None of my accomplishments were academic. I think that for the millions of non-linear learners out there, there are opportunities for growth that are greater than those which existed before COVID-19.
Lesson 5: Measure success differently.
In times of COVID-19, children are being asked to learn in different settings and rubrics are being adjusted. Schools will communicate with parents about the work being done. Celebrate their achievements and notice the things that aren’t always celebrated in a classroom.
Lesson 6: You don’t need to become a school teacher for your child to succeed.
Your child already has a school teacher who is doing their best. As parents, none of us know everything we would need to teach any kid. What you can teach them is to love to learn. Teach them tips on how you best learn. You’ll find the rest of what they need as they need it and it will be enough.
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