Temporary Homeschooling Due to School Closure
If your child's school has been closed due to precautions related to the COVID-19 virus it can be a confusing time. You may be wondering how to support your child with their education as they transition to online or virtual means of academic delivery within the school.
This article is designed to give you some tips and ideas for how to homeschool your child during a forced school closure. Remember, all school systems will differ so keep in close contact with your child's school to ensure that you follow their procedures.
The most important things you will need to consider are the curriculum, the learning environment and the student's schedule.
The curriculum refers to the content material your child has been learning. Your child's teachers/school should supply all the curriculum materials necessary for each student to complete their work during the school closure. These materials might be:
- Video lectures
- Discussion boards
Many students may already have online access to their classrooms/teachers. Some schools already, as a matter of course, require students to submit work virtually. In these cases, students will continue to submit their work in the regular ways. Their online portals may also be expanded to deliver the additional learning materials (lectures, etc) required by the teachers.
If your child's school does not already support an online learning platform the school will give you instructions for how to submit and/or show that the student has progressed in his/her work. It is imperative that you maintain good communication with your child's school and teachers. Check the school's website for updated information and make sure the school has information about the best way to reach you.
Okay, you know what to teach (the material sent home with the student) now you need to know where to teach. Children often focus best in an environment that is designed for learning. Our environment tells our brain what we will be doing and our brain prepares for the activity based on the environmental cues received. For example: when you put your pajamas on and get into bed, your brain understands it is sleep time and begins to go into rest mode.
It is important that you set up a space in your home that will be used for school. This should not be in a room with a television (unless your child needs to watch the t.v. for specific lessons). It is equally important that you do not expect your child to do his/her school work in his/her bedroom. A child's bedroom is an environment that lends itself to sleep and/or play but rarely focused learning. An exception to this rule is if the child is already used to doing homework in his/her room and has a learning space already set up in the room.
Areas of the house that could make good learning environments:
- The dining room table
- A coffee table in a sitting room/living room with no television
- The parent's room
- An office room in the house
Ensure that the learning environment is free from most distractions, has plenty of natural light and your child has access to all the materials and resources they will need.
Routine is important to students. Continuing the school routine will help your student to stay focused on his/her learning objectives.
Encourage your student to get up and get dressed at the same time he/she normally would have to do so for school. Your child should start working at the same time the school would normally start.
Encourage your child to complete their assignments and subjects in the same order as they normally would at school. Again, this consistency will reinforce, in their minds, that this is school time and that it is time to focus and learn. Allow students to take breaks between subjects as they would in school. Students that change classrooms for each subject get a movement break every 40-50 minutes. This moment to stop, move and refocus helps the brain to switch from one topic to the next and it should definitely be supported while temporarily homeschooling.
Finally, one on one instruction is much faster than traditional classroom instruction. Do not expect that your child will need to spend an hour on each subject to complete the work. Remember, they will not have to wait for everyone in the class to finish before moving on, nor will they have to wait for others' questions to be answered before their own can be addressed. Quite the opposite, students working in isolation are able to complete work much more quickly because there are fewer distractions and more direct focus.
So, as far as the schedule for each day is concerned:
- Continue the same schedule as at school
- Take movement breaks between each subject
- Allow for students to finish early
The challenge of transitioning to homeschooling for a short term school closure is daunting but can be tackled. Keep in mind that your child's curriculum needs will still be met by the school and make sure you keep up-to-date with announcements from your child's school.
Set up a smart learning environment with lots of natural light and few distractions. Finally, give your child continuity by following the same schedule they would have if going to school. This continuity will help them while the school is closed and will make the transition back to school easier than if they'd gotten out of their normal routine.