A survival guide to COVID-19 homeschooling

A survival guide to COVID-19 homeschooling

Helping with homework can be challenging enough for parents despite the hardship of unplanned homeschooling due to COVID-19. A psychologist and pediatrician team up to provide parents guidance on how to survive this new parenting challenge.

Dr. Brent Sylvester, psychologist and Dr. Aaron Traeger, pediatrician, both with Advocate Medical Group in Bloomington, Ill. suggest the following to new homeschooling parents:

  1. Manage the environment: Sylvester recommends turning off distractions such as cellphones and TVs during learning time. Younger siblings can be an additional distraction during homeschooling. Occupying these siblings during the other child’s learning time can be beneficial.
  2. Create a schedule: “The phrase ‘plan the work, then work the plan’ allows children the opportunity to help establish the order of the day,” says Dr. Sylvester. “Providing a visual timer helps make time more concrete for kids and makes it easier for them to see time passing.” Dr. Traeger also recommends strategically planning the day so the child has strengths mixed in with activities in which they get frustrated.
  3. Allow for frequent breaks: A typical school day includes breaks for the kids to get up, stretch and give their mind a quick break. Dr. Sylvester recommends including breaks in the homeschool routine as well. “It depends on the child, but younger kids could have breaks every 15-20 minutes and older kids could have breaks every 45-50 minutes of learning throughout the day. These breaks help avoid frustration before it occurs,” says Dr. Sylvester.
  4. Rewards for effort: Rewarding children based on effort instead of accuracy is important in keeping children engaged with their learning. Dr. Traeger recommends rewards such as praise or playing board games to reward a child’s hard work.
  5. Sleep routine: Many children think not having to go into school means their summer sleep schedule can begin. However, ensuring a consistent sleep schedule can benefit a child’s at home education. “Starting the day on time and keeping your child on a regular bed time schedule is important during homeschooling,” says Dr. Traeger.

Following these five homeschooling tips can help ease the transition of at home learning for both parents and their children during these unexpected times.

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  1. email to Heather

  2. Although the advice is useful, I take offense at calling what has been thrust upon parents as “homeschooling”. As a veteran homeschooling parent, what parents are facing now is “schooling at home”. This is very different than homeschooling which is an entirely different paradigm of education in which parents are able to provide their children a unique, customized experience by thoughtful planning, curriculum selection, and non-traditional delivery. To lump what parents now are facing into this undermines the true homeschooling community.

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About the Author

Anna Kohler
Anna Kohler

Anna Kohler, health enews contributor, is an external communications specialist for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She received her bachelor's degree in public relations from Illinois State University and has worked in health care public relations and content marketing for over five years. In her free time, she enjoys working out, exploring new places with her friends and family, and keeping up with the latest social media trends.