Yesterday, my daughter’s school district announced that due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, it would be closing all schools beginning Monday, March 16 and resuming on Monday, April 13 (the end of the previously scheduled spring break). Today, our local public library announced it would close too.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few days on the phone with various parents trying to figure out what a reasonable plan for my daughter’s education for the next month might look like. I’ve also spent several hours scanning the web to see what my online options are. (At the end of this post, you’ll find a few of the more interesting options I’ve found.)
Basically, there are as many plans for managing this time as there are parents and educators willing to post about them on the Internet.
As far as I can tell, parents are planning to do everything from maintaining a full load of regularly scheduled course work to simply doing whatever it takes to get their family through the next few weeks without regard to any particular educational goal.
I don’t know what we are going to do yet.
Personally, I’m tempted to use this time to teach my daughter some life skills that she wouldn’t pick up in school — how to cook a few simple dishes so she can make something for herself besides pasta and scrambled eggs, how to think through prepping for unexpected events like pandemics and earthquakes, and how to properly clean a bathroom. This plan has the nice side effect of giving me a helper to compensate for having three times as many people in the house generating four times the mess.
Education-wise, I’m waiting to see what her school offers by way of guidance. If her teachers somehow provide a regular schedule of work, then I will do my best to ensure she does it. If not, then I’ll figure out what matters most to our family during this time, and do that instead.
If I had to guess now, I’d say that in the absence of specific guidance (and assuming life permits), we will most likely end up practicing her math skills, maintaining her fledgling Spanish vocabulary using Duolingo, reading some books, and doing a bit of cooking, some crafting, and a lot of cleaning together. Oh, and spending time most afternoons playing some low-stress but entertaining game like Cantankerous Cats.
Honestly, though, if the best we can do is simply get through the coming month, I’m ok with that. There’s a lot to be said for granting yourself the flexibility to only do what it takes to help you, your loved ones, and your neighbors make it through the coming weeks.
Some online education options for your social isolation enjoyment, for those who want them
Here is a collection of free, home-based education resources I discovered while prowling around online yesterday. Links are provided for information gathering purposes and are not intended as personal endorsements. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list — it’s just a few of the things I’ve found so far. I’d love to hear what you’ve found for use with your own children.
- In case you, like me, are considering simply grabbing your child’s textbooks, figuring out how many chapters on average they would work through in whatever period of time their school is closed, and working those chapters with them, you might find this post from Progressively Classical on how to create a week’s worth of online classes helpful
- Progressively Classical, an online K-12 teacher, posted a schedule of fifth grade classes based on the Well-Trained Mind homeschooling curriculum on their Twitter feed this week (@StuckIn48403550)
Directed Reading, Writing, and Creative Projects
- Kate Messner, author of more than three dozen kids’ books is compiling/has compiled an online library of resources for kids, families, teachers, and librarians to help support learning during the COVID-19 outbreak. Resources include a kid-friendly comic explaining why things have been closing unexpectedly this spring, first chapter and picture book read-alouds from various authors, and lessons in drawing and writing.
- Lindsay Currie, author of The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, has posted a free online writing workshop for 3rd – 7th graders interested in writing their own spooky stories (Spooky 101 Toolbox)
- Beth Vrabel, author of The Newspaper Club, has suggestions for encouraging your child to document their experiences during the pandemic as if they were a journalist. “What is your family doing to prepare? How is your community coming together? Write. It. Down.”
- In case you are looking for a more traditional middle school reading guide, Beth Vrabel has also posted a series of study guides for parents and educators to use in conjunction with her middle grade books, including The Newspaper Club and Pack of Dorks
What about you?
How are you planning to handle this unexpected time with your family?
- Four books that share well with middle-schoolers (Caterpickles)
- Book Review: Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton (BostonWriters, includes the story of what happened when I tried to homeschool my daughter)
- Book Review: Pack of Dorks (Caterpickles)