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Homeschool 101: Follow-up Q&A

Homeschool 101 Facebook live event follow up Q&A

Homeschool 101 Facebook live event follow up Q&A

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas --

The 37th Training Wing hosted Home School 101, a virtual event on Facebook Live to help families transition to non-traditional education methods and learn stress-management skills during mandated social distancing in response to COVID-19, Thurs., April 9, 2020. Home School 101 featured a panel consisting of Leslie Janaros, a mother who has been home-schooling her children for 15 years, Dr. Raye Lynn White, an educator with over thirty years of experience, and Lt. Col. Kieran Dhillon, a clinical psychologist. In case you missed it, see the full event on the 37th Training Wing Facebook or Youtube page. Many follow up questions came in from viewers of the event and are answered by our distinguished panel below. 

Follow-up Q&A

1) How can I be sure that I will not mess up my child's educational growth?
Do your best to follow the homeschool plan from your child’s school, reach out to their teachers for assistance. Use informal opportunities to educate your children about real world life skills as developmentally appropriate for your child.

2) What about our kids who need to take the ACT and SAT for college?  Or other standardized testing?

For ACT, go to https://www.act.org/ where there is a section specifically for COVID-19 updates to ACT testing.  You will also find a FAQ section. 

For SAT, go to https://www.collegeboard.org/ where there is also a section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.  In addition, you will find information for AP students impacted by school closures. 

3) How important is a schedule? Do I need to keep one and what should be on it? 

Schedules are important especially since we are unsure how long this will go one for. Children do best with consistency and predictability. This helps them feel safe. Provide flexibility as needed but do your best to avoid deviation from becoming the norm. Note that anytime we let our bed times slip or sleep in, you are basically jet-lagging yourself. This is the same impact for your kids. Consistent times for bed/wake up times, hygiene, meals, and exercise are highly recommended. Involving your kids in planning helps make it a family investment. It can be very helpful to review with your spouse how the day went and to prep for what is planned for the next day. It will help provide a sense stability in the home.

4) What if my child is struggling with higher level math or classes like chemistry and/or physics?  How do I help them when I have no idea what to
do?

Contact your child’s teacher for that class, reach out to resources for online tutoring, like Tutor.com, do they have classmates who can help or do a study group over platforms like FaceTime? Checkout our resource page previously provided for additional resources available to you during this time.

5) Should I expect my spouse to help with homeschool, even if they are still teleworking or going into work?  What if I'm feeling frustrated with all that I am responsible for now...how do I work through that?

You must talk to your spouse about what they can and cannot do based on their work schedule. Communication is an absolute must. Develop a plan and come to an agreement on how you both will manage frustration with each other (it WILL happen) and follow it. Trust is key. If you need a break, be specific with how much time you need and stick to it. Sometimes, everything you have planned for the day is no longer possible, sometimes it helps to prioritize tasks by “must do” (take medication at a certain time with a meal) and “like to do” (go for a run). Make sure you make space for self-care, even if for only 10 minutes while the kids are watching a movie. Take that time to do relaxation breathing, yoga, anything that helps you relax, examine your thinking (is it working for you—helping you stay calm and relaxed or against you—increasing stress). If working against you, change your thought, “I got this,” “It’s not perfect but it is good enough,” “that did not go as planned but I am grateful for...,” etc. Check out the resource apps in the resources guide. There is even a free stress reduction app for kids called Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street. Overall, the best
way to manage stress is to have a healthy foundation: get enough rest, eat well, get exercise, don’t be so hard on yourself, forgive others, adopt an attitude of gratitude.

6) Where is the best place to get information for Lackland, not only on resources but where to stay informed/updated?  Facebook is a great resource.
There are pages for the 37th TRW, Joint Base San Antonio, 59th Medical Wing, AETC, USAF, 37 TRW Command Chief Master Sergeant, Brooke Army Medical Center, the local news also has helpful updates on our community.

7) How much should I share with my children about the virus? 

Depends on their age/development. Always be honest and open. Communicate on a level they will understand. Let them share their thoughts and feelings. Ask them what they know and work from that. That will help prevent alarming them about something they were not thinking about. If you don’t know an answer use reputable sites for information. Do not have the news on with the kids around. Children need to know that they are safe, how to keep safe, and that adults will keep them safe. They do not need to take on the weight of the world!

8) How much screen time should I allow my kids since they are on screens all day with school?

Recommendations are none for infants (their development is optimized with face to face eye contact), ages 2-4 years one hour, and ages 5-17 years no more than 2 hours. Recommend using a separate device for schooling versus entertainment.  This will allow the children to understand the difference between the two if you attempt to set boundaries. If your children end up with more than the recommended screen time, do not beat yourself up over it.  These are challenging times and there is room for grace here. 

9) How do I get any alone time with children home all day and sheltering in place?

Depends on the ages and functioning of your kids and spouse presence. If nap time is scheduled for young kids, use that time or when they are watching a movie, or working on school work. Baby monitors can help. Manage your expectations for what “alone” is going to be like and for how long. Chances are that you are probably not going to get a big chunk of time or an uninterrupted break.

10)  Will this new homeschooling change the future of public education? 

The COVID-10 Pandemic has required our entire nation to become engaged on virus prevention methods and this is also seen throughout the spectrum of education.  The need for social distancing has paved the way for technology to aid learning environments.  Exploring what future education needs look like post the pandemic is a topic that is being widely discussed among educators.  One perspective on this topic can be viewed on the World Economic Forum page (no US AF endorsement intended)

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/4-ways-covid-19-education-future-generations/

11)  What advice do you have in setting school times with your children?

It depends on your child’s age and development. For older kids, discuss your expectations and work with them in developing a schedule to meet those expectations. Ensure there are breaks and fun included. How do you let them know the difference between school time and home time? There are a lot of options here, you can provide some environmental cues. Consider ideas like school time is at a particular table or room of the house with soft instrumental music in the background.  Set an alarm for each transition time with fun tones. Home time, you can blast the music, be more relaxed, engage in games, etc. Again, using different devices for school and entertainment might help here as well.  Recommend doing what works best for your family when it comes to having a schedule.  If a more structured schedule works for your family, then do that.  If having a less structured schedule is better for your sanity and that of your children, then do what works best for you.  Avoid comparisons and judgement as much as you can…each family will need to decide what works best for their family.  

12)   How can we engage more with the teachers from schools while
homeschooling?

Recommend communicating through e-mail, texting, phone calls, school communication apps, etc.  Set up teleconferences as needed. Children will miss seeing their teachers and friends.  Consider requesting virtual meetings where children can see their teachers and/or classmates.  If you are struggling with the curriculum, communicate with your teachers and school districts.  It has been our experience that teachers and administration are willing to work with parents to help navigate this new normal of distance learning. 

1) How can I be sure that I will not mess up my child's educational growth?
Do your best to follow the homeschool plan from your child’s school, reach out to their teachers for assistance. Use informal opportunities to educate your children about real world life skills as developmentally appropriate for your child.

2) What about our kids who need to take the ACT and SAT for college?  Or
other standardized testing?

For ACT, go to https://www.act.org/ where there is a section specifically for COVID-19 updates to ACT testing.  You will also find a FAQ section. 

For SAT, go to https://www.collegeboard.org/ where there is also a section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.  In addition, you will find information for AP students impacted by school closures. 

3) How important is a schedule? Do I need to keep one and what should be on it? 

Schedules are important especially since we are unsure how long this will go one for. Children do best with consistency and predictability. This helps them feel safe. Provide flexibility as needed but do your best to avoid deviation from becoming the norm. Note that anytime we let our bed times slip or sleep in, you are basically jet-lagging yourself. This is the same impact for your kids. Consistent times for bed/wake up times, hygiene, meals, and exercise are highly recommended. Involving your kids in planning helps make it a family investment. It can be very helpful to review with your spouse how the day went and to prep for what is planned for the next day. It will help provide a sense stability in the home.

4) What if my child is struggling with higher maths or classes like
chemistry and/or physics?  How do I help them when I have no idea what to do?

Contact your child’s teacher for that class, reach out to resources for online tutoring, like Tutor.com, do they have classmates who can help or do a study group over platforms like FaceTime?

Checkout our resource page previously provided for additional resources available to you during this time.

5) Should I expect my spouse to help with homeschool, even if they are still teleworking or going into work?  What if I'm feeling frustrated with all that I am responsible for now...how do I work through that?

You must talk to your spouse about what they can and cannot do based on their work schedule. Communication is an absolute must. Develop a plan and come to an agreement on how you both will manage frustration with each other (it WILL happen) and follow it. Trust is key. If you need a break, be specific with how much time you need and stick to it. Sometimes, everything you have planned for the day is no longer possible, sometimes it helps to prioritize tasks by “must do” (take medication at a certain time with a meal) and “like to do” (go for a run). Make sure you make space for self-care, even if for only 10 minutes while the kids are watching a movie. Take that time to do relaxation breathing, yoga, anything that helps you relax, examine your thinking (is it working for you—helping you stay calm and relaxed or against you—increasing stress). If working against you, change your thought, “I got this,” “It’s not perfect but it is good enough,” “that did not go as planned but I am grateful for  _________.” Check out the resource apps in the resources guide. There is even a free stress reduction app for kids called Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street. Overall, the best way to manage stress is to have a healthy foundation: get enough rest, eat well, get exercise, don’t be so hard on yourself, forgive others, adopt an
attitude of gratitude.
 

6) Where is the best place to get information for Lackland, not only on resources but where to stay informed/updated? Facebook is a great resource.
There are pages for the 37th TRW, Joint Base San Antonio, 59th Medical Wing, AETC, USAF, 37 TRW Command Chief Master Sergeant, Brooke Army Medical
Center, the local news also has helpful updates on our community.


7) How much should I share with my children about the virus? 

Depends on their age/development. Always be honest and open. Communicate on a level they will understand. Let them share their thoughts and feelings. Ask them
what they know and work from that. That will help prevent alarming them about something they were not thinking about. If you don’t know an answer use reputable sites for information. Do not have the news on with the kids around. Children need to know that they are safe, how to keep safe, and that adults will keep them safe. They do not need to take on the weight of the world!

8) How much screen time should I allow my kids since they are on screens all day with school?

Recommendations are none for infants (their development is optimized with face to face eye contact), ages 2-4 years one hour, and ages 5-17 years no more than 2 hours. Recommend using a separate device for schooling versus entertainment.  This will allow the children to understand the difference between the two if you attempt to set boundaries. If your children end up with more than the recommended screen time, do not beat yourself up over it.  These are challenging times and there is room for grace here. 

9) How do I get any alone time with children home all day and sheltering in place?

Depends on the ages and functioning of your kids and spouse presence. If nap time is scheduled for young kids, use that time or when they are watching a movie, or working on school work. Baby monitors can help. Manage your expectations for what “alone” is going to be like and for how long. Chances are that you are probably not going to get a big chunk of time or an uninterrupted break.


10)  Will this new homeschooling change the future of public education? 

The COVID-10 Pandemic has required our entire nation to become engaged on virus prevention methods and this is also seen throughout the spectrum of education.  The need for social distancing has paved the way for technology to aid learning environments.  Exploring what future education needs look like post the pandemic is a topic that is being widely discussed among educators.  One perspective on this topic can be viewed on the World Economic Forum page (no US AF endorsement intended)

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/4-ways-covid-19-education-future-generations/

11)  What advice do you have in setting school times with your children?

It depends on your child’s age and development. For older kids, discuss your expectations and work with them in developing a schedule to meet those expectations. Ensure there are breaks and fun included. How do you let them know the difference between school time and home time? There are a lot of options here, you can provide some environmental cues. Consider ideas like school time is at a particular table or room of the house with soft instrumental music in the background.  Set an alarm for each transition time with fun tones. Home time, you can blast the music, be more relaxed, engage in games, etc. Again, using different devices for school and entertainment might help here as well.  Recommend doing what works best for your family when it comes to having a schedule.  If a more structured schedule works for your family, then do that.  If having a less structured schedule is better for your sanity and that of your children, then do what works best for you.  Avoid comparisons and judgement as much as you can…each family will need to decide what works best for their family.  

12)   How can we engage more with the teachers from schools while homeschooling?

Recommend communicating through e-mail, texting, phone calls, school communication apps, etc.  Set up teleconferences as needed. Children will miss seeing their teachers and friends.  Consider requesting virtual meetings where children can see their teachers and/or classmates.  If you are struggling with the curriculum, communicate with your teachers and school districts.  It has been our experience that teachers and administration are willing to work with parents to help navigate this new normal of distance learning. 

*  *  *

*Home School 101 full video: YouTube or Facebook

*Home School 101 Resources

*Home School 101 follow up Q&A 

*Home School 101 event summary