Danica McKellar Offers Tips for Parents Struggling with Home Schooling
For decades now, since she was that bright-eyed teenager who won America's heart, Winnie Cooper, actress Danica McKellar has been a comforting and welcome sight on our television screens. Now, as adults, we can turn to McKellar and the latest installment of her Hallmark mystery series, Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance, premiering Saturday, April 25. In addition to entertaining us, McKellar can help us through some of the challenges we are facing under quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic.
After her run on The Wonder Years, McKellar went to college, earned a degree in mathematics, and has had a successful second career in writing books that help teach math in a lively and engaging way. Also, now a mother herself, she has homeschooled her son Draco all of his life. She recently spoke with Southern Living about some tips to help frazzled parents through this pandemic as our schools remain closed and our children are home with us. "I see this as an opportunity to really for us to get closer with our kids," she said. McKellar acknowledged that in these uncertain times, tensions are high for everyone. "We are all rattled by this and its hard. But we what we have to remember is our kids are also rattled by this and we need to be there for them more than ever. We need to give them more patience than ever. We need to put our own feelings aside and just listen to them and see what they have to say," she added.
On her Instagram page, McKellar has mapped out several tips for parents who may be a little lost with this new role as schoolteacher. Her first tip is about the best tool you can have in your arsenal is already on your cell phone: a timer. "I like to give my son a 20-minute break after a solid hour of quality work," she says in a video saved to her highlights on her page. She sets a timer on her phone for an hour and every time he gets distracted in that hour, she stops it. But once that hour has ended (even if in real time it took an hour and a half) she gives Draco a 20-minute reward of a break. She also talks about using the fact that kids love to watch videos on YouTube to your advantage. She shows a video related to the topic they are going to learn about and then says ok, when we get to the end of the lesson, you can watch the video again.
Recognizing the unprecedented times we are living in, McKellar shared a tactic she's always used with Draco to engage him even outside of their official school-allotted hours. "One of the things that I've done with my son since he was very young is to explain my thinking throughout the day. Explain why I do this and not that. I just narrate my thoughts out loud to help Draco understand the way I think. The way I problem solve on a day to day basis." This is a handy method if you start to feel like you didn't make enough progress in the day's lesson. Your kids are learning from all kinds of interactions, not just what's written in the textbook.
McKellar hopes to be of help to parents right now and she's also giving back in other ways. On Cameo, the social media outlet that lets you purchase shout out videos for friends from a variety of celebrities, McKellar has always donated her profits to children's charities. Currently she is focused on charities that will help feed children and their families through this crisis like No Kid Hungry. She has also recently read one of her books for the Save with Stories campaign benefiting Save the Children as well as No Kid Hungry. "I'm going to keep doing things to make money to help. I'm donating myself personally, I'm donating through cameo, trying to support these places that are helping keep these kids and their families alive and thriving and not suffering."
McKellar knows that another way she can be of service is to help entertain and lift spirits. She regularly engages with her fans on social media and will be live tweeting the premiere of her latest movie. Be sure to check out Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance, premiering on Hallmark and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Saturday night, April 25, at 9PM EST.