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Navigating COVID-19 School Closures

Homeschooling and summer catch up during and after COVID-19 school closures pose a real burden on parents and students. Despite many parents' and teachers' most sincere efforts, some anxiety still remains regarding whether or not a student will be adequately prepared for the next school year. This anxiety is normal and valid, especially as we face the most uncertain times of our lives.


There are many activities and resources that can assist parents and students in catching up this summer and abate some of this anxiety.


Before students can learn and parents can teach, it is important for both to have their basic needs met. There is a ton of heady pedagogy that supports this claim, but basically people do not perform well until their physiological and safety needs are met. Here are a few things to consider before beginning any sort of homeschooling activities:

  1. Ensure that you and your child(ren) are well rested and have eaten.

  2. Choose a comfortable spot that is free from excessive distractions.

  3. Practice a grounding technique before instruction. Insight Timer is an app that has many guided meditations that are geared toward children and can help ground them. Make sure you are grounded as well!

  4. Schedule breaks ahead of time.

  5. Have snacks and water available.

The next thing to consider is what subjects to focus on and what specific concepts to focus on within these subjects. Most schools emphasize Math and English Language Arts, and still follow Common Core Standards, even if loosely, to provide benchmarks for what students should learn in each grade. The standards can be found here: http://www.corestandards.org/read-the-standards/. They are quite wordy and at times difficult to understand, so a future post will focus on decoding the standards for your use. In the meantime, the most beneficial thing to do with your child(ren) is the following:


English Language Arts

In English Language Arts, focus on reading, comprehension, and writing. The best way to do this is to read with your child daily for 10 minutes per grade level, ask questions about the reading, and then have them write about it. Choose a text that is challenging but does not cause your child to become overly frustrated. A good strategy is to take turns reading sentences or paragraphs aloud together, alternating between you or your child(ren) reading for each. After reading, ask your child(ren) open ended questions about what you read together to enhance comprehension.


Questions could consider the setting, characters, events, and plot twists of the text you have just read to help bolster their comprehension. You could also ask your child(ren) what their favorite or least favorite part of the reading was and why to give your child practice with justifying answers and providing evidence to back up their claims. Have your child respond to your questions by writing their answers down, much as they would in a classroom. After completing a story or book, you could have your child write a longer response to a prompt you provide them, such as "What challenges did the main characters face in the story? How did they overcome these challenges? What happened at the end of the story that shows they overcame these challenges? What connections can you make to challenges you have overcome in your life?" For younger students, one sentence in response to each question of the prompt is sufficient. For older students, you could request that they write a paragraph or more to complete an essay.


Math

In K-8 Math, focus on place value and mathematic operations. Provide opportunities for your child(ren) to practice these concepts through worksheets, games, and activities. Pinterest is a great resource for finding math games and activities at grade level. Students generally focus on the following in each grade:

K: Number identification and counting, place value of ones and tens, and comparing

numbers.

1: Addition and subtraction of two numbers up to 100 without exchanging (carrying

over); addition of single-digit numbers whose sum is more than 10; subtraction of a

single-digit number by a two-digit number; and telling time.

2: Skip counting and addition and subtraction of up to four numbers within 100 with

exchanging (carrying over).

3: Addition and subtraction of up to four numbers within 1,000 with exchanging

(carrying over);

multiplication and division within 100; memorization of multiplication facts (the times

table); and understanding fractions as quantities of less than one.

4: Fluent addition and subtraction; multiplication and division with multiplicands and

dividends up to four-digits and single-digit multipliers and divisors; order of

operations (PEMDAS); and addition and subtraction of fractions with common

denominators.

5: Multiplication and division with multiplicands and dividends up to four-digits and

multi-digit multipliers and divisors; understanding decimals as quantities of less than

one and their notation to the thousandths place; and addition, subtraction,

multiplication, and division of decimals and fractions.

6: Rational numbers (including negative numbers); solving for unknown variables;

exponents; and ratios and proportions.

7: Solve equations and inequalities; understand the properties of equations and

inequalities.

8: Scientific notation; equations and inequalities with coefficients; square and cube

roots; slope.


Do not exhaust yourself by spending tons of time each day on homeschooling. 30-60 minutes per subject area is plenty, and keep in mind that everyone in New Mexico is in the same boat as you. Teachers know that students may be behind come the 2020-2021 school year, and will adjust their plans accordingly. Remember to be kind to yourself. Many (if not most) of you are not trained teachers, and it is okay to feel unsure about what you are doing. You have your own life, work, and chores to handle, too. If on a given day you and your child(ren) just aren't having it--bag it for that day. It is not likely to be productive anyway. Most of all, remember to have fun with your child(ren) outside of lesson time as well. Growing up is a one-way track, so it is important to cherish these moments as much as possible.

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