Dear MSP Student/Parents,
It comes to no surprise that we are faced with quite a challenging time due to health concerns over COVID-19. Not only did we start virtual classes in less than a week’s time, but some of you have experienced the added challenge of now homeschooling your children. Although I am currently not a parent of a human (proud dog mom!), I wanted to share my expertise as a teacher regarding this unique situation.
Many of you may be realizing that your children’s homework is completely different than how you experienced learning as a child. Most school districts in Michigan are using Common Core mathematics and applying unique integrated approaches for science, language arts, and social studies.
You may be frustrated, challenged, or handling everything well! Regardless of what your experience is with your children’s academia, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There is a plethora of free online materials that parents can now use to assist with teaching their children. Through my personal Google Search, I felt this link was thorough in providing individualized educational activities for your children, Pre-K-12. Please note the hyperlink is from the Plymouth-Canton Community School District, so any side notes within the resource link is directed only to PCCS parents and guardians. In addition to that link, there are a ton of YouTube videos for parents regarding the virtual adjustment, free online books, and fun, educational videos!
Now that everyone is supplied with as many virtual educational links as possible, let’s talk about schedules. From my personal conversations with MSP parents, I am hearing a general consensus that although school districts are providing schedules for parents, these schedules may not be realistic for a MSP parent-student.
Not to mention the fact that some of you are still working, everyone is trying to maintain their own academic standings, and with this added experience of teaching your children at home, things may feel just down right impossible. On behalf of the majority of teachers out there, what you are doing with the resources that you have in your home, is enough. I think it is important as we all go through this journey and deal with the unknown, to be reminded that you are not expected to run an 8 am – 3 pm school schedule for your children. Most homeschooling parents do not run schedules according to public school standards.
Take this as an opportunity to integrate real life situations with education! Cook with your children, have them practice measurements and mathematics. Bake with your children and apply various science concepts into the experience. Read with your children and let them read back to you, even if they are young and only looking at the pictures, I promise, it is still reading! Have a social studies movie night with your children and discuss relevant history. These are the things I wish I could have incorporated into my classroom to provide a more applied learning atmosphere, but unfortunately bringing my stove into a classroom filled with thirty middle schoolers is socially frowned upon.
Most importantly, throughout this experience of being at home, working on your own assignments and trying to balance your children’s academics, just know that what you can do that day is enough and appreciated by the educators.
Take this chance to get to know how your children like to learn and collaborate with them. Introduce (or reintroduce) a love of learning and keep in mind, I am talking about any kind of learning, not just math, science, language arts, and social studies. Offer your children choices and let them decide what they feel like working on that day. A similar concept of how we generally have the choice to choose which assignment to focus on for a particular day, start to offer that responsibility to your children, you may be surprised how much they can absorb. Encourage critical thinking, the concept of choice, and the introduction of being responsible for your own education. These are all life skills that they will carry with them.
Lastly, have fun! Have a power hour where the whole family works on homework or reads. Your children may be familiar with CAFE or the DAILY 5. This is something that can easily be incorporated into the household and allow you some independence to work on your own assignments. In a time like this, it is of the utmost importance to be flexible, demonstrate resilience, and work together as a family unit. It’s okay if your child has a day in front of the television so you can do your homework. It’s okay if you aren’t sure how to teach Common Core mathematics. By telling your children you do not know something but are willing to figure it out, you are teaching them perseverance and transparency. If you need assistance with your children’s assignments or your own, ask for help. MSP is here to support you and trust me when I say there are hundreds of teachers at home who are wanting to help as much as possible.
As a kind reminder, your children are always watching and learning from you. Don’t forget to incorporate effective mental health practices, as this adjustment is something everyone is going through. With the encouragement of home-quarantines, this is a great opportunity to come back to basics and be with one another. To the MSP parents, students, and now homeschooling teachers, good luck and remember – we are all in this together. Stay healthy my friends and do not forget to breathe!
Sierra Gillis, MA (’19) is a first year doctoral student at MSP and a Certified Grades K-5 & 6-8 Mathematics/Integrated Science Teacher.