A couple of weeks ago, children across the country were in school preparing for their upcoming spring break. Flash forward to present day and there is a very good chance that their break from school will continue until August when they start their new school year. To say these are weird times we live in would be the understatement of the century.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Most of us had probably never even heard of “the coronavirus” before all of this started taking place. Coronavirus is actually the name of the disease and not the virus that causes it. The WHO has formally named the 2019 novel coronavirus as “coronavirus disease (COVID-19).” The virus that causes COVID-19 is formally called “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).” Much like HIV causes AIDS, SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19.
The first cases in China were reported a just few months ago. At the time, most of the world was reassured by the Chinese government that these were isolated cases and there really was no cause for alarm. However, it turns out that it was spreading and spreading quickly.
By the time the rest of the world became wise to what was happening, it was too late. Of course, the United States has closed some of our borders and restricted flights to inhibit the spread, but we were already contaminated to a certain degree. People that were unknowingly infected were at airports and various places with crowds of people. It was sort of like the monkey from the film Outbreak. The damage had already been done.
Now, in an effort to keep the number of contaminated people on the low side, everyone in the country is basically on house arrest for the foreseeable future. It seems like an episode of the Twilight Zone, doesn’t it? All we are missing is Rod Serling coming out during one of President Trump’s updates to give us the intro. “Imagine, if you will, a virus that is changing our way of life instantly and a media that is doing more damage than good. Still, what is hurting the people more? The virus or the cure?”
All 50 States Are Shutdown to a Degree
All schools, preschool through college, are on hiatus until the coronavirus can be slowed down and possibly brought to a halt. Some districts are asking classroom teachers to keep on educating the students through eLearning by using email, video conferences, and chat boards. However, not all schools are trying to undertake this online teaching as most of the teachers just don’t have the background knowledge of quite how to do this. Plus, it has been sprung on them rather quickly.
In any case, this means that the children are at home and, most likely, under their parents’ care for the near future. Adults are being asked to stay home as well unless they provide an essential skill to society that cannot be shelved for the time being. These careers could range anywhere from being a truck driver to a medical professional or a stock clerk at the local grocery store.
Don’t Let This Time Go to Waste
As a parent, these next few weeks and possibly months really should be put to good use. Don’t allow your child to just go to bed at midnight every night and play video games during the day. You must keep some kind of structure in place. These are rare times we live in, but that doesn’t mean you have to let chaos reign supreme.
As an educator with more than ten years under my belt I have taught students ranging from six years old up through college age. I want you to know this is your chance to help your child get to (or stay at) the top of the class.
Learning loss is a real thing for students. At the start of every new school year, after a summer break, teachers spend a lot of time and effort getting kids back up to speed academically. Over the years teaching, I have noticed that some students do catch up rather quickly, but others continued to struggle even two months into the school year. And why were they struggling? Three months off from school can be a long time for kids that do nothing during the summer except watch tv, swim, and play sports.
I have my Master’s degree in Reading and Literacy and have an additional certificate as a Reading Specialist that allows me to diagnose, assess, and treat reading deficiencies for all age levels. A young child that does not continue to read during the summer months will usually be almost half a grade level behind with their literacy skills by the time the next school year begins.
Now, we may double that time off for an ordinary summer because of the coronavirus quarantine. Can you imagine how far behind many students will be? And although I only mentioned reading skills, this actually goes for almost all subjects.
Take Matters into Your Own Hands
As a dad, it is up to you to make certain this quarantine time is spent wisely. Just think of the possibilities! You could help your child catch up on any subjects they are currently struggling with. You can push them even a little further in the subjects they are gifted in as well.
The following are a few ways to make this time count academically with your children.
- First, you may be wondering how in the world you should know what they need to learn. If they haven’t already reached out to you, ask your child’s classroom teacher for their textbooks and some guidance. They should be more than happy to help you know exactly what needs to be covered.
- Have structure but make the day interesting! Math could be in the morning for an hour and Reading could be in the afternoon. Set this schedule in stone. In between, you could add another class in there for a half an hour or more as well. A fun Geography lesson could spark their interest in new places, and a compelling story from History might get them to read more.
- Don’t think more is more. If you follow the loose schedule up above, the kids won’t feel overloaded since they will still have free time and maybe they will focus better because of it. Plus, on an ordinary day at real school, the students are only in the classroom for about four hours anyway. You can get just as much done in less time because you are working with them one on one.
- Take virtual field trips. Google Earth is an amazing tool. You can go online and visit almost any location in the world through your computer screen. You can even view a premade tour (like this one of national parks) or create your own.
- Video conference with others that may know how to teach a subject or topic better. Wouldn’t your kids love to learn a Math lesson from their aunts and uncles through Skype?
Think Bigger Picture
While you can strictly focus on academics during this quarantine, you don’t really have to pigeonhole yourself. You finally have time on your hands to show your kid how to hit a fastball. Now, you and your children have time to take family music lessons through online tutors if needed. Explore the arts with your children and educate them on the finer things in life, like Elvis Presley.
Or how about you make sure that your kids know how to change a flat tire, grill up hamburgers, paint a room, and do other kinds of life skills activities. If you don’t do these things with your children now when you have the perfect opportunity, you’ll kick yourself later on. Make the most of today!