The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 has literally shaken up the very system of our world, from healthcare to hospitality to aviation, and of course education. What we are learning more, now than ever, that the security within these systems isn’t present and definitely isn’t so for our traditionally underserved population.
What we as Black and Brown people have known for some time, is that the educational system has been “broken” for a while, with its history rooted in segregation and inequalities. The present school closures and the after-effects are no different.
With school closures, social distancing and quarantines, we are embarking upon a time unlike before. Entire states of schools are being shut down for weeks and some for the remainder of the school year, with parents and educators operating behind the 8-ball.
In the midst of all this, I can’t help but think, “What’s next?”
As a mother and an educator, I can afford to teach my daughter at home during this time, amping up what I already do to subsidize the inadequate education she is already receiving at her school. Her school was closed with no game plan, as many others were. She has access to resources and e-learning platforms from my work in schools; I have already vetted particular programs and paid for yearly subscriptions for those that best fit her needs beyond the “classroom.” I recognize this is a luxury that many don’t have and I can’t help but wonder how much farther behind our most underserved students will get during this time.
Educators have been our “first line of defense” against the war on illiteracy for as long as we can recall. What I have come to know is that the education that is received by students, in 2020, is still not equal.
For those parents who may not know how to meet the needs of their child during this time, I offer both strategies and hope.
There are many websites and e-learning platforms that have been circulated in previous posts to encourage and increase learning during these times. For parents who may or may not have internet access, here are some additional things you can do:
- Social Studies: Allow your child to read (and listen to) multiple accounts (articles) of what is occurring locally and nationally in today’s world. Ask probing questions that provide an opportunity to think critically about what’s being read. These question stems can be powerful in assessing comprehension and application.
- What is the purpose of the article?
- What is the main idea (message) of the text?
- What argument is the author making?
- What suggestions are being given?
- Do the suggestions provided match or refute other opinions on this topic?
- What numbers (statistics) are being given? Do you think they are accurate?
- Reading: If you don’t have books in the home, access various online reading platforms to find books your child can read. The love for reading begins with finding books that children love to read. During this time, allow children to browse genres and read for FUN! It may actually (re)ignite a love of reading! Some activities to assess learning include:
- Drawing pictures that illustrate the Beginning, Middle and End of the story.
- Creating character maps (Think: The Gingerbread man meets Operation) that outlines a character’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. (As a challenge, you can choose to do this at the Beginning, Middle and End of a story to see character growth and change!)
- Rewriting endings to stories that didn’t seem to end “right.”
- Identify the message of the story—what does the author want me to know about life from reading this book?
- Math: Probability is being widely used in today’s time. Building foundational math skills with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division will support many grade-level mathematical concepts. Creating “Math Minutes” to see how many problems can be done in a short amount of time can increase math fluency and be fun! Creating competitions between siblings, against parents and others in the home makes this extra fun!
- Visual Arts: Draw/illustrate our world beyond the pandemic. Visualizing is the first step to manifesting and by allowing our children to “draw” the optimal world that they want to live in, we allow them to dream beyond today with themselves as a part of the solution. This activity can incorporate facts from our present and the past, with imaginative positive possibilities for the future.
What all these suggestions have in common is parent involvement and partnership. It can be convenient to utilize e-learning platforms and other computer games during this time, but it is the human interaction and engagement that will provide a level of social and emotional learning and connection that is necessary for this time. The bonds that will take place by learning with your child will go farther than any computer program.
And as we emerge from this isolating time, what I know we will emerge as, is a group of parents who stopped the busyness of our world to take the learning of our children into our own hands, something we will be proud of when we emerge!