Teachers to the rescue.

By Zoe Denenberg
March 26, 2020

As the novel coronavirus sweeps the nation, school closures have sparked widespread shifts to online learning and homeschooling. As parents take a more active role in their kids’ educations and encounter some of the challenges of homeschooling, many have expressed their newfound appreciation for educators. If you haven’t figured it all out quite yet, you're not alone. Don’t worry: Teachers are here to help.

Even when you’re stuck at home, there are lots of fun ways to keep kids’ minds active and engaged. We asked 7 teachers for advice on how to keep kids learning at home. A few of the lessons? 1) Get in the kitchen. 2) Read, read, read!

The moral of the story? Just because schools are closed doesn’t mean the learning ends.

Tips from Teachers to Help Kids Learn at Home

  • “My advice would be trust the guidance from their teachers, give yourself and child grace (this is new for all of us), and when in doubt read, read, read! Everything can be a learning opportunity if you make it that way.” – Rebekah Westneat, 5th Grade Science and Social Studies Teacher, Waxhaw, NC
  • As a 7th grade life science teacher, Mrs. Higginbotham is asking her students to keep a daily nature journal to encourage students to still get outside and learn about the environment around them. “The goal is for them to still use scientific skills including making observations, collecting data, and communicating information all while enjoying some fresh air.” – Rachel Sims Higginbotham, 7th Grade Life Science Teacher, Trussville, AL
  • "My two suggestions for parents to keep their little ones learning are one, stick to their normal school routine as best you can, including snack time, recess, and naps; and two, keep them active as much as possible, whether that's doing yoga, building forts, or doing scavenger hunts.” – Anna Glascock, Preschool Teacher, Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • “Every day is going to be different, take it day by day. It is okay for kids to be doing other activities that are not academic such as going outside, STEM projects, games, and other games instead of sitting in front of a computer all day. Reach out to teachers for help. We are here for you and in this together.” – Brady Miller, Elementary Special Education Teacher, Chevy Chase, Maryland
  • “Lessons online with their teacher and classmates can provide some security and familiarity during this time of isolation and confusion. With preschoolers and young elementary students, everyday home activities provide lots of learning opportunities and can cut down on screen time. You can bake, make dinner together, do laundry, bathe the dog. Compare textures, smells, and tastes. Measuring ingredients provides lots of math opportunities (please count out 3 eggs, or is 1/2 cup more or less than 3/4 cup... let’s check). For older students they could read and follow the directions, or they can figure out how to cut a recipe in half. Everyone needs to get outside. Go out, and look for signs of spring: dig for worms, look for bugs, plant some flowers, go on a scavenger hunt. For younger elementary students, they can keep a journal of their adventures and activities at home. They can write letters to their school friends (yes, the old-fashioned way!), and ask them to write back. Keeping kids on a schedule helps a lot. Have a set time for each lesson or activity. They can make a “to-do” list each day, and cross off each one to see what they have accomplished. And probably the easiest, most enjoyable, and most important... read a book to or with your child every day! – Holly Strasberg, Pre-School Deaf Education Teacher, Memphis, Tennessee
  •  “The math is going to be hard and different so don’t stress out; give your kids lots of breaks; tell them that it’s ok to feel sad that they miss school and miss their friends; reach out to their teachers! They want to say hi and miss them too!” – Mackenzie Miller, Elementary Special Education Teacher, Bethesda, Maryland
  • “I think what’s important to consider during this time is that everyone’s situation and access is different—there is no one solution for the best way to approach it, and what might be a possible approach for some families, others may not have the means to use. Each family should consider what is best for them, and try to give space for young people to engage in enriching activities while also having the space and support to process what is going on in the world. Some young people might want to dive into educational activities as a means to take their mind away from the information overload about the current situation, and some might need time to process what’s going on before they can dive into educational activities. At the end of the day, I think it’s important to use this time to listen to young people, ask them what they want, and find ways to support their growth—it’s the opportunity for individualized learning that schools often can’t provide, but the education that parents and families are best at. Exploring students' genuine interests, nurturing curiosity, and supporting students to make sense of what’s going on as a way to provide for their growth.” – High School Social Studies Teacher, Tulsa, Oklahoma