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Teaching Kids at Home Due to Coronavirus? Homeschooling Moms Share Their Tips


As the new coronavirus spreads, schools across the country are closing their doors and encouraging parents to help kids complete schoolwork at home until risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 have passed.

For parents, the question is, how? TODAY Parents sought advice from homeschooling parents on how to teach kids at home.

"Players with Lindsay Czarniak" podcast host Lindsay Czarniak, wife of TODAY co-anchor Craig Melvin, shared one of her survival techniques on Instagram this week: a hand-written schedule outlining her kids' "school" day at home.

"This was more for me than the kids but with a couple weeks of hunkering down ahead for them I followed the advice one of my son's teachers shared," Czarniak wrote in her post, joking that "Recess/PE was waaay too long but I had a meeting."

Journalist and college professor Alissa Wilkinson solicited help from homeschooling parents on Twitter, asking for advice for "people who are going to be trying to 'do school' at home for the next month," and received suggestions ranging from knocking out difficult subjects first thing in the morning to making sure to get up and get dressed before starting schoolwork to optimize success.

1. Hold a family meeting

Heather Bowen, a mom of two from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, says when facing an unexpected homeschool situation, family planning is key.

"Talk to your children about this 'new normal,' and communicate with them that while they may be at home, there are still assignments that must be completed in a timely manner," said Bowen, who blogs about homeschooling her daughters, Shaylie, 15, and Nevaeh, 14, at Mom for all Seasons. "Since your child is coming from a structured school environment, I would definitely continue on with providing structure for both them and you."

2. Create a daily schedule

Bowen says it's important to have set hours for school, meals, chores and other daily activities.

Maria Chamberlain, a mom of seven who has been homeschooling for 29 years, agrees.

"Many routine activities are now disrupted, and that's going to be an emotional process for everyone," Chamberlain told TODAY Parents. "Kids are going to be disappointed, as are parents, not to have their normal routine."

Chamberlain, who lives in Strafford, New Hampshire, suggests talking together as a family about the coronavirus outbreak and how it's affecting everyone.

"Then, decide on a schedule together as a team," said Chamberlain. "Let the kids help plan it and it will run smoother."

3. Ask your school district for support

"I would highly suggest that you reach out to your local school district and determine what resources, in terms of curriculum, online learning platforms, supplies, etc., are available to you," Bowen suggested. "Talk to your child's teacher and find out exactly what is expected from them in terms of assignments and school work during this time."

4. Help kids create a learning environment

Leah Duke, a Montana mom of three who has been homeschooling since 2004, says it's important to remember that each child learns differently and may perform better in a different work environment.

"Help them create their own workspace — at the kitchen table, on their bed, in a comfy chair in the living room — and know that you may find a rotation works well for different subjects, especially for those students accustomed to visiting a different classroom and teacher for math, English and electives," said Duke.

5. Don't be afraid to bribe 'em

"Some students are self-motivated," said Duke. "But some may need time limits or incentives like, 'You need to finish ABC before you can XYZ.' Not every student is a morning person, but it's much easier to accomplish what you need to first thing before the whole day slips by, so that's a great case for building incentives into your new routine — just as we encourage our children to eat their vegetables before they can have a slice of cake."

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