It is said that one event will alter a generation. For some of us (not me), it was the war in Vietnam, for others it was Woodstock. For most of us under 60 years old, it was 9/11.
And in a few short weeks, a generation of generations, is faced with an existential crisis that extends beyond culture, nations or politics as the Novel Coronavirus has spread like wild fire, infecting all major nations in the world. For those who will survive, and most of us will, this event will forever be marked as a turning point in our political and cultural history. Children, who grew up learning to text rather than communicate face to face, are now begging their parents to go out and be with their friends, instead of having to Facetime them. Families are together and at home, mass shootings are halted, schools is no longer a place where parents have to fear sending their kids. Pollution is diminishing according to satellite images as factories close down and cars drive less.
Right now we are cooped up, some of us are sick, maybe bored, maybe still making light of it, but as time goes on, a new world and a new culture will begin to take form in America and in the world, that might just be for the better.
So stay tuned as there is much more to share in the days ahead. But right now, I know that many of you are desperately asking the question: How can I home school my kids when I don't have a clue to to be a teacher. So, I will be building a guide for you but lets start with a few basic points:
1) YOU DON'T HAVE TO RUN A SCHEDULE LIKE A SCHOOL DOES - Schools run for so many hours, with so much structure to keep kids interested through rotational activities, moving from one expert teacher to another, and also because it simply takes much much longer to teach a child in a school environment, with one teacher per 10-30 students. Teaching your kids in a small home environment does NOT require a six hour school day. In fact, school at home needs to only take about 2 hours per day. Yep, that's it. TWO HOURS.
2) There are four basic things that you need to integrate into a temporary home school environment, assuming your child is third grade or above and already knows how to read, write and do basic arithmetic which includes times tables.
a) Informational learning - This is acquisition of basic knowledge. For example, learning the 50 state capitals, learning the names of the planets or learning the Periodic Table of Elements (for high schoolers or Sheldon Coopers)
b) Experiential Learning - You have no idea how much a child, or anyone, learns from doing something especially if they are interested and engaged. There is a reason why your child was given a science project or taught to make something from paper mache. A few weeks (or potentially months) of learning from home is a literal gold mine of opportunity to help your child dive into a project that can help them learn.
c) Skill development - This is probably the hardest thing you'll have to add to your program, but it's not as hard as you think. This is teaching your child HOW to do things, and in case you forgot, you already know how to do this. Who taught your child to use the toilet? How to use the TV remote? How to ride a bike? Right? It was you, so you already have quite a bit of practice teaching your child HOW. Now it's time to add some academics to your repertoire and you can do it.
d) Exercise - That's right. The human body needs exercise. Yes, I am a running fanatic, so I realize that I am biased. However I have worked with young people for thirty years, and there is simply no way around the fact that exercise helps children to feel good, to have an outlet and therefore to be able to learn and simply to experience life. If this is not part of your child's world, whether before or after school closed down this March, this is the time. And lets face it: They've got time! And exercise can be walking, hiking, biking, shoveling or yoga.
3) Don't worry. #3 is coming in a day or two. So, hang in there and stay tuned, because you may actually find that you are a great teacher and even though you can't necessarily add the social and interactive element to your child's education that a school can, you definitely can keep your child interested, engaged and up to speed with whatever grade they are in.