With extended school closures and so many unknown variables surrounding this global pandemic, families are finding themselves stressed out, anxiety ridden, and frustrated. The @CoronaMorah Instagram account was created to support you during this unexpected adventure of home schooling. In a very short amount of time, a community of idea sharing, positivity, encouragement, and good vibes was created, and if your child’s school is closed for the unforeseeable future, I urge you to join the @CoronaMorah family. In the meantime, I offer you these ideas to keep in mind.

Schedules are not one-size-fits-all. Some families will thrive over the next few weeks with schedules carried out and followed with precision, while other families will do great with a free choice approach. The bottom line is that every family will need to do what is best for themselves without questioning the other. Whether it’s the discussion of limiting screen time to how many snacks are eaten each day to the number of minutes spent on traditional academics, every family will set boundaries and expectations for themselves. In this unprecedented time, I urge you to approach one another without judgement and an extra dose of kindness. You are all doing a great job!

Learning comes in many forms. From folding laundry, to loading the dishwasher, to sorting Lego, everything can be a learning opportunity. Whether you are focusing on following multi-step directions or arranging toys by color, tasks involving visual motor planning, executive functioning, listening skills, and organization are extremely valuable. Setting the table and cooking dinner provide lessons in life skills, and taking out the garbage reinforces teamwork and responsibility. Lessons don’t always have to include a worksheet or the four core subjects to be considered meaningful and appropriate.

Don’t Spend Money (Yet). There are so many online resources that have been made available for free during school closures. Many educational apps and websites have free access, which include videos, games, and units of study. Now is also the time to dust off the Magnatile sets, board games, art kits, and puzzles that we all have lying around in the “Chanukah gift graveyard.” Before running to the store to stock up on toys or games that you think the children might enjoy, first encourage using what you already have while assessing their interests to purchase new items. Perhaps your daughter will show some curiosity about plants after reading a story her teacher assigned. Only then would it be the perfect time to order a seed kit and let her explore this new passion.

The next few weeks will be challenging but rewarding. This is your friendly reminder to keep everything in perspective and to remember that we are all in this together for the sake of our health and safety. Your children need to see that you are excited to spend the extra time with them and that you are looking forward to all the memories you will share. Sending you all positive vibes for a successful homeschooling week. You’ve got this!

CoronaMorah is an elementary principal at a public school on Long Island with a background in special education and 13 years of educational experience.

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