Tips From a Teacher: Building Skills Beyond the Classroom While Kids are out of School

This post was written by Andrea Martinez, middle school science teacher.

With all the changes this current COVID-19 health crisis is impressing upon our lives, a big focus is on our children who now have to learn from home.  A lot of parents are worried about making these lessons while still having to work. Luckily, there are some ways to go about it that can make your job as a parent a little easier, other than just showing one a schedule of how you should map your day.

  1.     Contact the teacher! This may seem obvious, but who knows what your child was learning better than their teacher(s)?  A teacher can help guide you to the online tools they have through the school to help your child in their education. So guess what, you should already have resources that are being paid for by the school! Also, the teacher could have been posting announcements, and you could have been unaware of this. A teacher can let you know where to go so that you can stay informed with your child’s education. They may also already have suggestions on what to do so that you just have to help your student with the lesson, versus plan it out all yourself. Teachers want to help, and especially in a time like this, do not feel guilty about asking for help! Teachers will be happy to help and provide resources to help best support their students in their learning, no matter where it is.
  1.     Design Challenges! Engineering has been a focus in the science classrooms for some years now and they are easier to set up than you think. Do you have some cardboard or old newspapers and some tape? Have them try and build the tallest tower with only certain supplies. Maybe you can even do this with chores and ask questions like, “What is the best way to organize your toys?” Do you enjoy cooking? Well, ask some questions like “How can we make the biggest cookie?” All of these questions can result in the students having to plan out an idea, try out their prototype, and then try and improve their design. All you need is to figure out a goal and start asking questions! These types of activities can take a while, but the thinking skills they will be developing from this will be the ones that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
  1.     Online Sources. Luckily, the Internet is a great place to find fun labs, online labs or teaching resources to help your child. The Internet is a great place to start to find resources about a topic. Some websites that can help you teach you students about science topics are:

In the end, just remember to allow your children to be curious and keep asking questions.  It is important for them to know what is going on and what they need to do to stay safe. Do some research together to help them feel comfortable asking questions, and trying to figure out the answers. School is about learning certain content, but it is also important to know that in addition to this they focus on teaching students a lot of skills (like critical thinking and reasoning). As a parent, you can help them develop some of the skills that they will need for the real world. But in the end, remember to not put too much pressure on yourself. Teachers are not perfect at their job either, but know that if you are trying your best, your children will know and will appreciate the effort.


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