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“The Homeschool Association of California really recommends that parents don't try to replicate school at home,” Jamie Heston, a Homeschool Association of California (HSC) board member, told Fox News. “This is a really unusual time. This is a crisis and we need to be gentle with ourselves and with our children.”
According to Education Week, at least 92,000 U.S. public and private schools are closed, are scheduled to close, or were closed and later reopened, affecting at least 42.1 million school students.
With so many children out of school and confined to their homes, many parents find themselves struggling with how to balance study time with free time.
“I've seen families spend as many as three or four hours a day, rarely any more than four hours a day. Some families can limit their actual curriculum down to an hour a day and that works really well,” Allen Weston, the executive director of the National Home School Association, told Fox News. “It's more important to find something that your child is interested in because a child only learns when they are interested in something. Maybe Minecraft or playing video games is their favorite thing. That’s OK if you use it to help them learn.”
Weston also recommended that parents think outside the box when it comes to activities that will engage children's brains.
“Monopoly teaches math. Baking is fun and teaches fractions. Kitchen chemistry is always fun,” Weston, who also homeschooled his three children for over 17 years, said.
Hopefully, school closures won’t become a prolonged situation, but there are some favorable statistics for homeschooled children.
National Home Education Research Institute states that the home-educated kids typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. And the best news? You as a parent or caregiver don’t have to be an education specialist for them to achieve these benefits. The institute says homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.
“When people ask me about homeschooling and want to know what a typical day looks like, it's a very hard question to answer because every family is different depending on the style of learning for their child, and when the child is at their best,” said Heston, who homeschooled her two children and also works as a homeschooling consultant.
“If I'm working on math with my child, I want to do it when they're most awake and most perky so that's going to be morning. You want to look at your kids and kind of figure out where their flow is and not think of it so much as a regimented school-like schedule where there are periods of time that lasts for 45 minutes,” she added.
With the surge of parents looking online for free resources and daily routine examples, there are plenty of options to choose from right now, Heston said.
“You as a homeschool parent, you are more of a facilitator for your child, finding them the information they need to grow, learn and be successful in life,” Heston said.
If you do find yourself overstressed or seconds from ripping your hair out, Weston wants to remind parents to stop putting so much pressure on themselves.
“Realistically, nobody's going to fall behind in this period of time. A lot of families just don't really get to spend much time together and a lot of parents don't even really know their kids anymore. So this is an incredible opportunity that they've been given all of a sudden to be able to reconnect with their kids and to do it on a fun basis and learn things at the same time,” Weston said.