Educational Resources During Extended School Closures

Dear Parent,

Congratulations, you’re hired…for a job you never applied for! You have been promoted to educator extraordinaire – a position for which you quite possibly feel woefully ill-equipped. While I will warn you up-front, the pay is substandard, I assure you, the benefits are unparalleled.

Upon learning of the extended school closures put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, many parents began scrambling for materials and guidance about how to teach their children from home. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Resources abound. But before we dig into the content let’s put first things first!

All good teachers begin with the “why.” As each of us tries to find a new normal in the midst of this global pandemic with social distancing, compulsive hand washing and an unprecedented toilet paper shortage, our kids need to know why things have changed and how to stay safe. I’ve compiled some resources you can use to help explain COVID19 to children of various ages and comprehension levels. Kids need a basic understanding of how viruses are transferred and how to stay safe.

I highly recommend a hand-washing pretest as the first home-school pop-quiz. You will be SHOCKED at how haphazardly most kids actually “wash” their hands. Resist the urge to skip straight to the collective works of Shakespeare or the Pythagorean Theorem. Mastering this skill could save lives, my friends! Teach as fast as you can but as slow as you must but, for the sake of us all, be sure to commit absolutely no less than 20 seconds to this lesson!

Though everyone enjoys a break from the norm now and then, children actually thrive on a predictable schedule. In addition to the obvious academic subjects, be sure to schedule in exercise and movement breaks as well as art and music activities and time to reward your children for hard work with preferred activities (e.g. legos, puzzles, crafts, games).

We’ve established the rationale for the home-learning shift. We’ve taught basic safety skills and provided a structured schedule. Now it’s time to determine what high quality content our students will utilize at campus de casa. Most districts already have an online platform for digital learning assets. In Orange County, each student has a login for LaunchPad where they can access widely used educational programs. iReady offers on-line practice and quizzes to keep students’ language arts and math skills sharp. Reflex Math provides practice to build automaticity in fact fluency. Study Island administers a grade level science pre-test and each topic is linked to corresponding state standards. Newsela curates news articles re-written for student’s varying reading levels on a broad range of topics sure to interest even the most resistant reader. Discovery Education offers virtual field trips and other social studies lessons. Explore all the icons in Launchpad or whatever on-line digital platform your district uses. There are likely hidden gems you have yet to discover, right at your fingertips!

If you’re interested in supplemental learning materials, beyond what’s provided by your child’s district, there are several high quality resources available free of cost:

Now that we’re swimming in high-quality academic resources, let’s not forget what matters most. More than any academic lesson our children will learn in their home-bound classroom, they will remember how they FELT during this tumultuous time. Isolated or United? Anxious or Hopeful? Panicked or Self-Controlled? Helpless or Resilient? They will forever remember the connectedness (or disconnectedness) they felt while they were sequestered with their family. Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly teaching, and our children are constantly learning…

The affective strategies parents are modeling during this world-wide pandemic may provide the foundation for the most pervasive life lessons our children will ever learn. These are the lessons they’ll call upon during every stressful situation, frightening phenomenon, or confounding crisis they will face in their future.

Through social distancing, our kids are learning so much more than just how to establish and maintain healthy boundaries in a very concrete way. Our kids are watching us respond to the needs of our families and our communities and they are learning how to prioritize what’s most important. Our children are learning how to show empathy for others even while they are struggling themselves. They are learning to deny themselves of immediate gratification and instead, choosing to sacrifice to make responsible choices that keep the most vulnerable among us safe. Our children are shifting from an immature, individualistic “every man for himself” mindset to a mature, globalistic “all for one and one for all” way of life.

Our kids are watching us and learning how to practice the art of self-care that enables us to effectively care for others without burning out or breaking down. From this point forward, they will be ever mindful or the fact that there is always someone, somewhere, struggling through a battle the likes of which make irritating inconveniences seem light and momentary in comparison. They are learning what compassion and empathy look like. They are learning to practice gratitude even in the midst of a crisis. Our children are learning to live above their circumstances.

We have the unique opportunity to help our children see the good all around them, even in the middle of a global pandemic. Parents, you were always your child’s first and most impactful teacher and the lessons you teach, whether consciously or subconsciously, are shaping who they will become. Happy teaching!

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