The start of September means that the school year is about to, or already has, begun. However, this school year will be nothing close to normal as the COVD-19 Pandemic has halted any plans for semi-normal operation. For many this means, going back to school with masks on, keeping their distance in the classrooms, and multiple other changes. At the same time, it seems that a majority of students will not be returning to the classrooms, or at least not full time.
While this might be easier for older students (ie. middle school and high school age) for elementary school students, who are unfamiliar to the normal school system as it is, this becomes more of a challenge. A massive problem also arises when these students need someone to watch over them to make sure they’re actually paying attention to their classes, yet their parents are working full time. What happens then?
Now, working from home might ease some parents’ minds: they can pay attention to their child’s school work while still concentrating on their own. However, that is not the case for many; parents have a certain agenda that must be completed, and adding homeschooling to the table adds more chaos than it does solutions.
The same question can be asked for students who have learning disabilities and IEPs require them to have an aide and/or more individualized time with teachers. My brother’s school district, for example, announced due to a multiplicity of issues, most classes won’t be in-person. He, as well as many other students with learning disabilities, will be hindered and fall behind easily because of the lack of resources.
One solution to the problem lies in hiring tutors. According to Fox Baltimore, Varsity Tutors, which stems nationwide, reports that their enrollment numbers have boosted by 250%. If parents are working the whole day and are unable to properly help their children, tutors can provide the help that they need to teach kids while also making sure they don’t get distracted by video games or television.
This doesn't necessarily mean you need to pay hundreds of dollars for a professional tutor. Even a recent college graduate who is still looking for full-time employment could help. The only thing to keep in mind with this option is that they will probably continue to seek employment elsewhere as the job market continues to reopen.
For those who don’t want to pay for a tutor and are choosing to homeschool instead, there are many helpful tips that can keep the parent, as well as the child, focused. First, get a head start on daily activities. By parents achieving one or two goals before their children get up, they will be much more organized for the day ahead. Next, divide and conquer. It is near impossible to homeschool by yourself, especially if you have more than one child. Either parents should attempt to split up their time with their kids, if possible. If impossible, see if a friend or grandparent is available to help for even an hour or two.
Another helpful tip is to create a designated workspace. This space is for school work and school work only. Creativity can play a major factor in this new space, to make it more comfortable for the student to ensure that they can actually work. Encouraging autonomy is also a necessary step in creating a successful home-school environment. Even allowing the student to create their own schedule allows for children to feel more independent. This might be more difficult for younger students, but even encouraging them to make some of their own choices in their school work makes students feel more comfortable and confident.
Although this school year might have a much different start than past years, this is not a call to give up on school altogether. A team effort between child and parent must be developed to ensure that success, no matter the age level is achieved. This is a temporary problem that will eventually revert to some form of normalcy. For now, whether it be through homeschooling, tutoring, or whatever other options, school is beginning online, and all we can do in the end is adapt.