With the news that schools in Ontario will remain closed until at least early May as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, just how students in kindergarten through grade 12 will complete their school year has been up in the air.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford stated, “We’re working closely with the school boards to find ways to help students complete the school year so they can advance to the next year and earn credits and graduate.”
Many parents have been trying to keep their children engaged in age-appropriate educational activities, and at the same time, hoping their children will soon have teacher-led online learning, or if computers aren’t available in the home, some form of remote teaching.
Meanwhile, Dr. Lana Parker, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor, has three tips for parents navigating tutoring their kids to ensure a positive outcome.
1. Focus on context, not content
Many parents have been stressed out, wondering if they have to teach their children math, social studies and science, especially not knowing how to teach the subject matter the way it’s being taught in school.
But there’s no need for that, according to Parker.
“Don’t worry about children completing every assignment and memorizing a thousand things,” says Parker. “Instead, take the opportunity to get to know what your child is interested in and build on that. If your child is interested in dinosaurs, it’s a great starting point. Guide them to write a story about them, tour a virtual dinosaur museum, or film a video about it.”
Parker points out that facts, worksheets, and math timetables are available online, and students are adept at finding them. “What’s more important is to guide your child in a way that helps them learn what to do with the information. What are the social issues connected to the topic, and how is it relevant to the world we live in.”
“The critical opportunity is to help them develop patterns of critical thought, ways to engage in the world, be respectful, kind, and humble,” she adds.
2. Set up a routine
Much like adults, children are feeling stressed right now according to Parker.
” Their routines are disrupted. They need some form of structure. Especially kindergarten to grade 12. Their lives are built around structure and consistency; knowing they have a place to go, knowing they will be around friends or teachers they interact with and rely on each school day,” says Parker.
Parker suggests blocking out time for a variety of activities.
She says, “In this block of time this activity, in this block of time another activity, in this block of time we go for a walk, in this block of time we watch a YouTube video, with some choice built in to the day’s schedule.”
3. Set aside non-screen time
Plan for non-screen time during the day.
“If students sit in front of a computer all day to study, they could be tempted to play a video game or have passive interaction with screens. Add in some exercise or go for a walk where permitted, says Parker.”