By Erin Powers, Director of the National Boards Professional Teaching Standards Project, and Daniel Diaz, Director of the UCLA History-Geography Project
We are paid to help teachers help children learn, but even we were overwhelmed in the spring when we were thrust into our roles as part-time teachers and full-time caretakers when schools shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overseeing the educations of our kids has been a difficult and humbling experience for both of us and our families — and we have advanced degrees in the subject.
Like so many, we spent much of the summer hoping COVID-19 would recede and that schools would reopen in the fall. Since that is not to be, we thought panicked parents might benefit from a little perspective and strategies we developed while helping our children distance learn in the spring.
Learning opportunities are everywhere. Your children might not be learning what you thought they were going to learn or the way you expected them to learn it, but they’re still learning. Rich learning opportunities abound in daily life, and every family holds valuable knowledge.
You are already a teacher. As a parent or guardian, try to remember that. Your children learn lessons from you daily. You already know how to communicate with them. Build on that. When you’re doing your best to help your child answer a math problem, or complete an experiment for their science class, and your way of solving the problem does not exactly follow the recommended approach, it’s OK. You’re teaching your child that there are multiple ways to approach and solve a problem, increasing their capacity to think creatively and flexibly.