Tips for teaching your kids at home

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PALMER (KTUU) - A month ago, parents across the country didn't think they'd end up having to play the role of teacher. Now, because of the coronavirus, it's a reality many are getting used to. For those parents, and even the teachers getting used to how their jobs have changed for now, there is plenty of advice on how to make 'the new normal' work.

John Brown is the principal of Mat-Su Central where they utilize a blended model of learning. He explained that means parents can opt into different options for their kids with online and homeschool on top of traditional on-site learning.

Even at a school like that, the changes brought on by COVID-19 are still big according to Brown. However, he feels confident they are getting a good grasp on how to handle the situation already.

He said the resources for online classes have developed tremendously in the Mat-Su over the past month alone. At the beginning of March, he said there were around 1,000 Google classrooms in use throughout the entire district. As of March 26th, he said it's closer to 4,000.

Teachers throughout the state have been working to transition their classes to online formats. In Anchorage, the district said they are on track to start rolling them out by the end of the month.

Mat-Su Central high school teacher, Magy Helle said they've begun to do the same now in the Valley.

She said that parents don't have to wait for the online classes to start to help their kids learn however. The best thing to do now is to help them get organized.

"The online learning piece is not the hardest thing to learn when you're doing school from home," she said, "the hardest thing to learn and establish are the routines."

So Helle said schedules help, but parents should listen to their kids on how they learn, especially if they're older. Brown said they should be part of that whole process.

According to Amie Devine, who advises teaching for the younger students in the school parents don't have to devote as much time to teaching their students as they get at school.

"I just try to tell them to take a deep breath and tell them that homeschooling can be done in about 3-4 hours a day," Devine said, "And I don't mean that as just the minimum, but really we can learn so much when we don't have to manage kids all day"

When it comes to what kids should be learning at home, these educators said these strange times can be used as an opportunity for parents to teach them about what they know.

"It could be something as simple as learning to juggle. It could be maybe spending some time with your children in the kitchen learning to make certain meals or bake things," Brown said.

He said any skill or hobby that parents are passionate about could be an excellent learning opportunity for children right now that they might not get if they didn't have so much time at home.

Devine has kids herself who she said have been helping flip a house since they've been off school, for example.

For parents and teachers adapting to these changes, Helle said it's okay to take risks and try things differently.

"You know, if you make a mistake with a kids class at home you have tomorrow," she said, "it's okay if something doesn't work today. Tomorrow is a new day."

Above all, Brown said it's important to see the other side of COVID-19. He believes that students today will be ready to embrace greater challenges when they're grown. However, much of what they get out of these times depends on how their parents react.

"the children that are in the homes right now, for the rest of our lives will remember the modeling that the adults are showing right now," he said, "the strength, the courage, the resilience, the calm, but most importantly the love they've been shown by their parents."

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