Exasperated cries of “my child is falling behind in school” are echoing all over the United States as school-age children attend virtual school due to the COVID-19.
Parents are at their wit’s end trying to help their children navigate online classes. They are coming to the sudden realization that they, as parents, aren’t built for this virtual school thing and neither are their children. One parent wrote, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m over it.”
“You may not have signed up to be a public school educator but you are indeed your child’s first and primary teacher and you will be so all of their lives.”
If you too are over it, I’m here to assure you that it is not just you. You are not alone. Parents everywhere are feeling the pressure thrown at them to become teachers with many parents still adjusting to working at home. It all can be too much. It really is too much!
The first thing that you must remember is that it’s not you and it’s not your child, who is a reflection of you that is the problem. It’s the school and all of you are trying to survive a pandemic. The school, along with its teachers, were thrown into all of this without any real plan in place. They had to figure it out and what most schools settled on was not ideal.
Homeschool parents will tell you that only a couple of hours of study is needed per day and that over-bearing homework is not necessary. Most homeschoolers are self-directed by the work laid out for them. I know, you’re saying that is still “too much and I don’t have time to plan lesson plans, I am not a teacher.” I understand that’s why luckily for you there are free resources online. These resources take minimal planning and require you only to set it up once.
- The first step is to forget about virtual school with your school district altogether and let them know that you will be homeschooling your child until the pandemic is over or safe for your child to attend.
- The second step is to download your state’s required curriculum so that you know what your child is supposed to be learning at his grade level.
- Sign-up for a self-directed course online with a free company like KhanAcademy.org for each subject and dedicate only two hours of your child’s time per day on that one subject. Then rotate subjects each day.
- To make it fun, after your child finishes each course, have them teach you (as if they are the teacher) what they’ve learned. If they haven’t learned anything, they get to do the coursework again or have them search for a few YouTube videos on the subject so they can teach you about it again later. Children retain information when they have to teach it to someone else.
- After dinner, talk to your child about the subject and tell them everything that you know about it or ask questions from what they’ve taught you earlier. If you know of any art exhibits, museums, or movies about the subject, this is the time to introduce it and watch them together. Pop some popcorn and enjoy as they learn in a fun way. The entire process should be more fun than not.
You may not have signed up to be a public school educator but you are indeed your child’s first and primary teacher and you will be so all of their lives. Believe it or not, your child’s teacher at school is your assistant. You are their main teacher. But what you are thinking of as a formal teacher in a classroom isn’t a requirement for learning. You will teach your child valuable life lessons as they grow. This is not much different, a little more structured, and a little more fun. Keeping your child at home and on-task with fun learning is the goal.
Children will catch up with their school work. Make sure your third-grader learns to read. That is important because after third grade they are expected to know how to read and will not get reading lessons anymore. I fully expect school districts to offer summer learning enrichment programs once it is safe again to do so. Be sure to sign-up for any program that will help your child to make up for any lost lessons.
My advice is not to sweat it. I know that it is easier to say than to do it but with minimum effort, your child can easily be more advanced than the other students in their class.
5 Ways To Stay Sane With Virtual School
- Make sure your child’s computer is not in his/her room but in a main common area of the home where you can monitor their interaction from afar.
- Be flexible. Having a designated time to complete tasks is great but not written in stone.
- Find safe activities outside of the home that can enrich the subject your child is learning. Many museums and zoos are offering scheduled appointments.
- Plan a virtual study-hall on Zoom with other students (parents-together.org).
- There is nothing wrong with supervised screen time together after virtual school. It’s a pandemic. Screens are the only connection to the outside world right now. Don’t feel guilty.
Don’t teach–help them to understand instead
Keep in mind that it’s about the child, not the work
Help them to find their own motivation
“The first thing that you must remember is that it’s not you and it’s not your child, who is a reflection of you.