Parents can manage forced home schooling during pandemic

Q: The sooner this COVID crisis is over, the better for me.

I am a full-time mother and a part-time receptionist. I am not a teacher, or shall I say, I am a zero-time teacher.

But with schools out of commission and likely to stay so for some time (who knows if they are going to open up in the fall), I am expected to pick up chalk and eraser and teach those four charming children I love to call my own.

I love my kids. I worship the ground upon which they walk. But I cannot teach them that which I do not really know myself.

Schools have changed so much since I was a child that I cannot even call on what I learned when I was in their position. I am lost. What am I supposed to do?

A: Before getting into some suggestions that might help, I want to caution you. Most schools are planning to reopen when their academic years resume in the fall. Most of them have plans in place to ensure the safety of their students, but some don’t. You must be careful not to let your need to have your children get back into the classroom cloud your judgment.

Make sure that your children’s schools are doing everything that they can to protect your children. If, in your judgment, the schools are lacking, you need to talk to your school administrators to effect better changes. That is the Mother Goose in you protecting her brood.

Most teachers are doing everything they can to help their students keep up with the academic demands of their school years. They have electronic or computer programs, which students can access from home and they have assignments to help their students challenge their learning processes.

The emphasis here should be on the basics of education (reading, writing and arithmetic). You, yourself, do not have to conjugate sentences for English grammar and you don’t need to cry yourself to sleep in the maze of new math. Your electronic teachers can do that.

What you have to offer your children are those life skills that were once within the tradition of family life but which for the past few years have fallen into our public school classrooms. They include home economics, which today might be called family studies or food and nutrition), phys-ed, life skills and moral development.

You can do home ec, or fun in the kitchen, at home. You can run a great gym program in the yard, a family discussion on moral development in the living room and what to do for home-car maintenance in the garage.

Don’t forget arts and crafts and other stimulating exercises for transforming your kitchen into a disaster zone.

By the way, this is not all fun. Your children should be reading, almost anything, both orally and silently, as much as possible. Our whole academic journey is based on reading, as are those quiet times anywhere in the home. The more they read, the better.

The key to this is structure. You need to have regular class times in both morning and afternoon periods, recesses, lunch, and evening study times. The more your children can accommodate to some kind of an academic structure within their home classroom, the easier their transitions will be when fall comes around and the school bell rings to remind them that they best behave for the next couple of hours.

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