Parents have been granted a unique opportunity. Call it what you will, virtually every family has been dealt the same circumstance, several weeks and likely more of overall isolation and social distancing.
Like it or not, it’s stay-at-home time with few exceptions, something none of us could have imagined just a few weeks ago.
What this unprecedented time means is that parents and their children are going to be attached at the hip for some time to come — this is where the opportunity part comes in.
To be sure, this time of community separation provides a rare treasure of time for children to receive an education previously unavailable for most. Think about it — a valid and complete education comes in the form of a triangle of stakeholders including school, parent and, of course, student.
Schools are just one part and shouldn’t be considered to be the total package. Parents need to contribute, and students need to know what parents know, or should know, about things other than the academic, work-ready skills and college prep subjects they are receiving online through instruction and assignments provided daily by the schools. Indeed, it takes a village.
So why consider this time a blessing in disguise? It’s about this gift of time, something we all have in surplus during this shutdown period. Why not put it to good use?
Of course, we should assign set hours each day for students to complete online coursework. That time period should be supervised or at least monitored and without distractions.
Common life skills
Add to that, regular teaching time for parents to do their own instruction of common life skills. Here are just a few examples: how to write a check, create a monthly budget and understand the danger of excess debt, including student loans. Teach your child about banking, loan interest and saving.
Sadly, not many students know how to measure accurately. Teach them how many cups in a quart, how many feet in a yard, how big a cubic foot is, and how many square feet are in a square yard. Then, apply those lessons to the real world.
So how does one teach things like that? Parents can create related assignments such as measuring each room and then calculating the total square footage of your home. Or kids could calculate the square footage of the walls in a room, and then compare that to the advertised coverage of a gallon of paint.
Thoughtful, real-life assignments like these can pair the “how” and the “why,” and that’s what makes learning fun.
Measurements such as ounces, pounds, pints and quarts can best be taught in the kitchen with water, various containers and a scale. Mixing and baking a tray of brownies might help lock in the lesson.
Teach teenagers just how much living on your own really costs — teach them to cook safely, to read labels to count calories and why.
Parents can easily create their own list of lessons, and that list should include student requests.
And how about it, dad? Supervise student construction of a few bird houses. Show her or him how to change a flat tire and how to check the oil in vehicles and machinery. Check tire pressure, change furnace filters and, well, teach any of dozens of useful skills.
The moral of this story? Invest this unexpected treasure of time in your student. It’s truly a gift.
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