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Homeschooling helped prepare me for quarantine

Ada Slivinski: Parents across BC are finding ways to keep their kids engaged and stimulated at home. Some families have something of a head start.

Parents across the country are preparing to teach their kids at home for the foreseeable future as COVID-19 keeps schools closed. What kind of support and resources they will get from their teachers is yet to be determined, but parents have already been promised that all kids on track to move to the next grade or graduate this year will do so.

This means that as we collectively work to flatten the curve of Coronavirus infections, parents are also trying to close the gap between what their children know now, and what they need to head into next year with. It’s a tall order, especially as many of us are now expected to also work our day jobs from home at the same time.

As a formerly-homeschooled kid myself, at least part of the current reality feels familiar. From grades three to six, my mom taught me and my younger brother at home. Our days were filled with museum trips and ski lessons – instead of the routine and often monotony that comes with traditional school days – so it was less “home” schooling and more community learning, taking advantage of libraries and science centres to help stretch our young minds.

Of course, that won’t be possible in the weeks and months ahead. But there are many things I learned during my homeschooling years that I will carry with me as I plan the “curriculum” for my two young girls.

Since the kids get one-on-one attention and can zero in on specific areas where they might be struggling, actual “school” time completing worksheets and assignments is often much shorter than the traditional school day. For me, it was two to three hours of workbook time – but there were so many other opportunities for learning throughout the day. My mom taught me to bake bread and plant vegetables. CBC radio was always on, and we discussed current events. Those skills are now proving more useful than ever.

More valuable than any specific knowledge I gained from those years – and since both my parents are biomedical engineers, they made sure there was a lot – what stuck with me the most is the attitude that there can be a different way of doing things, that the eight to three school day or nine to five work day aren’t necessarily the only way.

It’s that way of thinking our kids will need to face after all this is over.

The end of this school year or the start of the next one will be unlike any other. When our kids go back to school they will all have learned different things and had different experiences.

The best thing we can do as parents is to enter this uncertainty with an open mind – and a broader definition of what education can be.

Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at [email protected]