We are just beginning to see the impact of the coronavirus on our education system in the US. In California, we expect to lose about $1,400-$2,000 per student. That’s 15% reduction from the $13,000 per student the state now receives. This will likely translate to larger class sizes, layoffs and furloughs, and pay cuts when we resume classes. We’ll need much more than emergency funds and stimulus packages to save our schools, we’ll need the federal government to step in.
As a college advisor and director at Merit Educational Consultants, I’ve advised my students and their families to supplement their current education to ensure that they continue to learn and that they’ll be prepared for classes whenever they resume. I’ve taken a lot of heat for my stance because not all students can do this. Disadvantaged communities are always hit the hardest and my heart goes out to all of them. That said, here’s what I am recommending.
This may be the only time when kids are bored of watching Netflix! Order books or ebooks and set up reading time each day. This will build reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Discuss the books with your children and watch movies based on the books. With at least 16 weeks before school starts up again, they can read dozens of books. Introduce classics to build the reading literacy.
Writing critical analyses about the books they read will give them a huge advantage when they return to their classes. This requires them to think about the story lines and practice writing. Most classes aren’t requiring students to write essays at this time so having them write every day will improve their writing skills. They can also write letters to grandparents and family that they miss. Bringing back letter writing can be a good thing.
Continue to do math exercises in their textbooks or online programs. Math, like writing, requires practice and mileage. If they stop doing math, their brains will atrophy and they’ll fall behind when school starts up again. Give them math computer games that reinforce basic math skills. Move ahead in math textbooks and explore online programs like Khan Academy to get lessons and practice problems.
Review and cover concepts taught since the start of the school year. This will reinforce weak areas and introduce new lessons. Check online for labs and Youtube videos to enhance classes and to ensure that they are ready to move on to the next level in the fall.
5. Modern Languages:
Introduce radio, TV, and movies (with subtitles) in the modern language that your child is studying in school or any language of interest. This helps them stay tuned in with the language and it will build vocabulary and improve their accents. They can do online classes and play video games.
Choose something that fascinates them and build a project around that. They can do something to help others during this pandemic. They can also write a book, start a club, create an app, design a gadget, build furniture, and do just about anything they’re interested in. Working with family and friends in Hangouts or Zoom, they can get guidance and support to keep them going. For project ideas, check out ProjectMerit.
Many classes will not complete all of the lessons listed on the syllabi, so block off time for your kids to do them on their own. Read those chapters or go online and get supplementary Youtube videos, Khan Academy lessons, or worksheets. By having a routine to do these supplementary activities, we may stave off stress and uncertainty. Kids love routines and they will be more prepared for school if they can spend a little time doing academics at home while sheltering in place.