The Chronicle -

By Aliya Hall
The Chronicle 

Schools close, class goes on

 

March 26, 2020 | View PDF

Christina Flint/Photo

Olivia and Owen Flint are working on their math and handwriting at home under the supervision of mom Christina Flint.

With schools closed until at least April 28, parents are finding innovative alternatives to continue their children's learning.

From homeschooling to online courses, multiple resources are available to parents who are trying to keep educational elements in their children's day. Working parents as well are trying to include children in everyday "adult" activities to teach economic skills.

"When schools close, parents must play a key role in furthering their children's education," said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director for the Coalition for Responsible Home Education.

The organization's leaders are encouraging parents to take an active role in their child's online schoolwork and learning, and offers online resources for those thrust into an emergency homeschooling situation.

Jessica May, Creslane Elementary educational assistant and student at Northwest Christian University, said her children have a daily schedule of reading, writing, math, art and science as well as breaks for lunch and outside playtime. She uses Zearn, and Adventure Academy for supplemental learning support, along with YouTube channels for art and science lessons. Together, she and her kids have also done hands-on experiments on electricity, density and mapping how germs are spread.

Many parents cited helpful online classes from Khan Academy and Scholastic programs, which have helped with structured learning experiences.

Parents like Sarah Burlingame and stay-at-home mom Kimberlee Smith of Creswell have added baking, art classes and Spanish vocabulary practice.

In Springfield, stay at home parent Randi Tine is playing learning games with her kids and taking nature walks.

"Math is cooking with mom, P.E. is soccer outside with Dad, work ethic class is washing the cars and mowing the lawn," she said. "And our favorite, sorting-and-folding laundry classes."

Along with lessons from Khan Academy, Angie Koch of Creswell's Angie's Child Care is teaching life skills such as budgeting, writing a resume, helping on indoor and outdoor projects and changing diapers.

"Trying to homeschool my two middle schoolers while operating daycare with infants and toddlers is challenging," she said, "but I'm doing my best to keep them on task with learning until we hear if the school has an educational plan to work from."

Not everyone, however, has enough computer access to implement these tools, particularly parents who are working remotely. Kristine Vreeland in Cottage Grove is working from home for her job with the State of Oregon as a Grants Administrator for the Office of Student Access and Completion part of The Higher Education Coordinating Commission, and said it's "hard to keep my kids on track."

"We are doing the best we can. I am implementing walks during my breaks to stay active, does that count as PE? The kids are helping more around the house and with the cooking, does that count as home economics?" she wondered. "It's a hard and uncertain time for the kids and me."

Delia Garrison in Creswell is giving her high school junior real-world experience by helping at her business, A Touch of Class Fencing and Decking.

Some parents are using this break as an early spring break as they wait to hear next steps from educational leaders.

"I am letting my daughter have free time, but have also told her that she needs to read at least one hour a day," Kelli Groman Zammiello, bookkeeper at Mike's Dance Floor Rentals, in Cottage Grove said.

Creswell resident Hannah Wigton is treating the first week off from school as a break, but is getting ready to start doing a sit-down, hands-on homeschool curriculum for her preschooler. Wigton is also a full-time online student at Colorado Christian University and said it's "a balancing act for sure."

The experience has taken a toll on some parents, like Sallie Sears, who is a parts manager at an auto repair shop.

Kathy Potter/Photo

LilyAnn Potter and Rylee Stanlee play with the slime they created with Kathy Potter as a science experiment. Parents are finding new, innovative ways to teach children educational benchmarks.

"I have eight kids so I'm struggling through all this," she said. "Both parents work and neither have experience homeschooling. I'm having a hell of a time with this."

While Liz Taylor, who works as a registered nurse at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center, is waiting to hear what the Pleasant Hill School District is planning for the future, she said she'll continue with a semi-Spring Break until she receives further direction.

For some parents who homeschool or have kids enrolled in online schools, there hasn't been much change, but Matt Jungling, SarahBeth Well and Smiley Glenn utilize either Oregon Connections Academy or outschool.com, they said.

Although schools haven't rolled out any structured plans yet, South Lane School District did release a statement saying it would provide supplemental education and learning support that may be online, through digital or virtual classrooms, deliverable supplemental education materials or check-ins with a teacher.

 
 

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