The headline on a recent Forbes article by Kerry McDonald about the COVID-19 pandemic touched an unexpected subject. The unprecedented mass closure of schools around the globe (including every school in Oklahoma) is “the world’s homeschooling moment,” the article suggested.
Millions of parents, tens of millions of students from pre-K through high school, and a quarantine that could last months . . . what are parents to do? One suggestion is to turn to homeschooling.
The Homeschool Oklahoma website has vital information for parents “thrust into home education without any preparation.” They have joined other homeschool organizations nationwide to reach out to parents who suddenly find themselves with children at home and schools canceled for the indefinite future.
“Homeschool organizations are providing getting-started guides to help jumpstart parents into this new world, and many homeschool vendors have started offering some of their resources free during this outbreak,” the website says.
The group has also published a quick-start guide on its website with such advice as planning daily activities, organizing family members at home to help keep the house clean, and allowing parents some time as well, during which “we discourage just throwing (the kids) onto TV, YouTube or the Internet in general.”
Paul Rose, president of the board of trustees of Homeschool Oklahoma, said the group is “pretty tightly connected with other homeschool groups around the country,” which prompted their website and companion social media outreach to parents hit by the school closings.
He said Homeschool Oklahoma members are already connecting on the group’s Facebook page, with parents inquiring about how to deal with an extended school closure.
“We fully expect most will complete the school year doing home education,” Rose said, noting that state schools could remain closed well beyond the current April 6 target date for re-opening.
“We tell them that it is a pretty serious thing,” he said. “If it’s just an extended spring break that’s one thing. But we realize that many of these parents have not had to spend extended time with their children all day.”
Rose said the core message his group of veteran homeschoolers would deliver to parents wondering what to do as schools remain closed is “you don’t have to do everything the way it’s done in an institution. Establish a daily routine, but be flexible.”
A novice homeschooling parent might face teaching math lessons to a toddler, an eight-year-old and a ten-year-old, Rose said.
“They are doing the same thing, but it is also not the same thing,” he noted.
What is the best advice he would give a parent facing an extended stay at home with school-age children?
“Most everyone knows someone who is or has homeschooled their children,” Rose said. “Reach out to them. For example, our children are well into college, but we still have tons of resources. If there was a family across the street we would be happy to provide the material and any advice we could. We’ll walk you through this. And remember, you aren’t going to ruin your kids.”
Various homeschool websites and other resources are posting advice to parents who suddenly find themselves with weeks or even months of no school and children wanting and needing to learn.
“A rapidly flourishing market of online resources is beginning to meet the content needs of millions of students across the country,” Heritage Foundation scholar Lindsey Burke pointed out last week. Dr. Burke says the “growing body of online learning resources can help parents as they navigate this new normal.”