HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) – School is back in session for many in the Tennessee Valley.
But, the way we normally envision school is different this year.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic more parents have chosen for their kids to attend school not in the traditional classroom, but rather at home.
“This is having the structure of the school day and the requirements that are being put fourth layered over everything that is happening in the home already. On top of that it’s parents with full-time jobs working from home trying to navigate siblings that are doing different work. It’s, it’s a lot right now,” UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Associate Professor Heather Sedges, PhD, CFLE said.
Just in Hamilton County Schools, over 15,000 students are learning through their two remote options.
Their virtual school had under 100 students enrolled last school year.
This school year, over 700 students are enrolled.
Sedges offers some advice for parents of kids learning at home.
She said her biggest suggestion is to involve your children in creating some kind of structure.
“What I mean by that is you don’t have to be minute by minute on your schedule, but if you say in the morning we’re going to be doing this kind of work for 10 to 15 minute. Involve your children in crafting a plan for your day so that everyone knows what to expect, around when to expect it,” Sedges said.
Whether or not your child already has a schedule to go off of, keeping them engaged might be difficult.
To help, Sedges said be open to letting your kids get up and move around.
“A suggestion that I’ve actually put into place in my home with my 9-year-old is we created a special learning nook in our household and that is nothing more than two chairs spaced apart, and I throw a blanket over it. I put in a cheap little flashlight in there, and he loves crawling in there to either read or do some workbook pages or something like that. It kind of creates this space when we’re all feeling stuck on top of each other these days,” she said.
Sedges also highly encourages parents to go easy on yourself and your children right now.
“Give yourself a really big dose of grace, forgive yourself everyday and don’t be afraid to ask your children for a do over or apologize if you’ve gotten a little snippy or if they’ve gotten a little snippy. It’s okay to share with them how you’re growing as an individual during this time as well,” Sedges said.
Juggling everything at home could make it difficult for parents to find some me time.
“The reality right now is that we don’t have a lot of the external resources that we typically turn to for just getting out and getting some space to calm down and relax,” Sedges said.
She encourages people to re-frame how they think.
She said think about things from a “solution seeker point of view rather than a problem pouter point of view.”
“Really look for the opportunities for children to increase their sense of independence. I think sometimes as parents we’re used to doing everything for our children, but one way to carve out a little bit of time perhaps is to increase children’s responsibility in the home, involve them in perhaps new house chores. Involve them in helping you sort laundry or little things like that. Anything where you can grab a couple extra minutes of time,” Sedges said.
She also stresses physical activity, something as simple as walking to the mailbox, could help.
Sedges shared the following resources for parents to check out:
- UT website: https://cehhs.utk.edu/for-teaching-at-home/
- PBS: https://www.pbs.org/parents
- Sesame Street: https://www.sesamestreet.org/toolkits and https://www.sesamestreet.org/caring
- Kiddle – kid friendly search engine
- Khan Academy – explanations and practice modules in math, science and humanities
Other great links:
- Common Sense Media – free online activities, lesson plans, virtual tours of significant places, and games
- Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) – online library for elementary and middle school students
- Wonderopolis – inquiry-based learning website with “I wonder” and “why” type articles
- National Geographic Kids – animal research
- Fact Monster – general information divided by subject area and great for research
- A Guide for Parents Teaching at Home – guidelines and suggestions for parents