What Would a Teacher Do?
May 6, 2020
The COVID-19 crisis has called upon parents to turn into their children’s teachers overnight. As we grow more and more uncertain about when our kids will return to school, Intelligent Partnerships reached out to an educator to get some tips on how to make this process slightly less painless.
Susan, a retired teacher in Southern California, has been in education for over 40 years. She holds 5 credentials and 2 Masters’ degrees. Because she is still working in schools, she wishes not to share her last name.
HELPING YOUR CHILD LEARN FROM HOME
We asked Susan how she would have handled working from home and teaching her kids (she has two adult children).
She tells us that she would briefly go over the lesson and leave the examples posted—for both math and English—and have her children work independently, which mirrors the classroom environment.
Depending on the child, it’s best to let them struggle and figure it out on their own, or at least try (but it’s important to find a balance with this; you should step in or have them take a break if they become too frustrated). She would then go over the assignments with her children and correct mistakes together, as you learn more from your mistakes than from correct responses.
She would also have them to do projects (ideas are included on our Supplemental Resources page), which can teach multiple subjects and skills at once.
Here are a few more tips Susan shared with us:
1. Create a Schedule
Kids crave structure, whether they realize it or not. Follow the lead of your children’s schools: post a daily schedule and stick to it. This is especially important in a time of so much uncertainty. Remember that your children do not need a full 8-hour day of learning, especially if instruction is one-on-one. Because your children’s teachers are your partners during this time, be sure to integrate any virtual learning meetings that they have scheduled, if possible.
2. Focus on Math and Reading
Reports show that virtual learning across the United States is facing a multitude of challenges, not the least of which being access to Internet. Kids are no dummies, and they realize the disparity means that the work that they’re being assigned cannot fairly be counted for or against their grades. This realization, Susan says, means that kids are not giving their full effort, because
they don’t think it matters. This means parents will have to be even bigger advocates for their children’s education. In a
normal year, students lose two to eight weeks of academic growth over the summer. Experts believe that the “COVID slide” might cause students to lose 30% of their reading progress and half of their math growth (Kuhfeld and Tarasawa, 2020). Make sure you’re placing a focus on math and reading. Remember that social studies and science can be learned in support of both of these subjects. For guidance, Common Core standards can be found here. Additional resources for math and English/language arts can be found on our Educational Resources page.
3. Assignments Should Last No More than 20 Minutes
Studies have shown that students hit a wall, so to speak, after 20 minutes. This isn’t to say you should switch subjects every 20 minutes, but you should not have them work on one particular assignment for longer than 20 minutes. After all, don’t we (as adults) tune out in meetings that go longer than 20 minutes?
4. Do Not Make School a Punishment
It is difficult enough to get kids to do schoolwork. Making extra work a punishment will make it harder for everyone.
5. Try to Make Learning Fun
Younger kids, especially, learn through play. One of Susan’s favorite lessons for students who don’t like math is: A Day Without Math. She advises that it’s best done on a weekend, because A Day Without Math means time does not exist. Unplug all the clocks, and don’t stick to a schedule. Give one child 2 chicken nuggets and the other child 9. Serve them dinner early or late—whenever you feel like it. Cut their iPad or TV time short. Have fun with it. Find more ideas on our Educational Resources page.
6. It is Okay to not Know Something
Showing your kids that you’re willing to learn something new, too, goes a long way in teaching them that it’s okay to admit that you don’t know something. Take the opportunity to learn together (and be thankful that this is happening in the time of Google). Khan Academy has great instructional videos.
7. Pick Your Battles
If every teacher responded to every single incident in a classroom, no learning would occur. This isn’t to say that you should let them get away with bad behavior. Susan advises that we remember that our homes are not traditional classrooms, and we cannot fully treat them as such. If your child feels more comfortable doing his or her work on the floor (and it’s not bothering anyone), let them.
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