Five tips for parents with children learning from home

Posted at 4:00 AM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 15:03:11-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Many parents will be teaching their kids from home as COVID-19 puts a pause on the school system.

For those parents that have become teachers, Jay Hall at Buffalo Public Schools has listed these five tips for making a successful home classroom.

1. Go back to basics. You do not need advanced equipment for an advanced lesson. In fact, some of the best strategies you can use with your students at home require little to no materials or tech equipment. You have pencils, paper, pens, markers, poster board stashed somewhere in your house. Use these things! If you have not already, start today and keep them in reach! Researchers are starting to agree that tech-based learning, especially for things like reading, writing, and learning grammar and punctuation isn’t working like they thought it would. Modern education theorists like John Hattie are now providing trustworthy data to show there are much more effective things we can use to spark learning such as creative hands on work, higher order thinking questions, in-depth discussions about content, and summarization strategies. All of these are far more effective than any online learning program. And, the best part is, you need little to no materials to support basic strategies at home.

2. Reach out to, connect with, and rely on teachers. Don’t just rely on your child’s teachers, also rely on the teachers who are your neighbors, the teachers who are your friends, and great online tutorial teachers from all over the world. Thousands and thousands of teachers are at home right now just waiting to teach. And, as I have said before and will say it a thousand times again, we have some of the best teachers in the world right here in WNY! Use them as a go to resource. They miss their students. Call or text a teacher right now and you will see exactly what I mean. And, if they don’t have answer, teachers are really good at recommending great resources to help you at home.

3. Be introspective. What do you care deeply about? What are your passions? What are you most skilled at? What are your personal strengths? When I coach teachers I usually start right here, with the heart. Once you bring your personal strengths and passions to the table and find a way to incorporate them into your teaching style and the content you are developing and delivering at home, you will find that your students will be far more engaged by you and your lessons. I have always stressed what we call a “Maslow before Bloom” approach to teaching. This means that, before they will successfully learn from you, students must know that you care about your role in their life as their teacher and you care about them as individuals. There is no better way for a teacher to show how much they care about their impact on children’s lives then by putting the work in to create and deliver meaningful learning experiences. Since you are parents, you already have the hard part down, now use it to drive your home instruction.

4. Be proactive. Tons of my parent friends out there have realized that, what may seem like a lot of work to us, is easily completed by their children in far less time than we thought it would take. Be proactive. Don’t wait until the last minute and rush to pull work together by printing whatever you can find on the internet. Instead, be ready to roll with meaningful back-up assignments and extensions like virtual field trips, classic movies related to texts, or art projects like movie posters or shoe box dioramas. Be ready for these moments. Providing additional, accelerated challenges is a huge part of teaching. Also be ready to help when lessons are not understood. Use sites like to find ways of helping learners with challenges in any subject. And, continue to check with your child’s teacher and school to see what additional work is coming home soon and what additional resources they have to offer in the near future for use at home. Be proactive and tart today in organizing student work for next week. Trust me, you’ll thank me for this, especially next week when you are freed up for that extra hour to finish a work project.

5. Be creative. This is my most important tip WNY! Creativity, or crafting something new and useful, is by far the best way to get over those scary thoughts produced by what they call the amygdala, or defense mechanism, section of our brains. This is where that voice in your head comes from, asking questions like “What would I do if I get the virus?” and “What is going to happen to me?” When you activate your right, creative brain you drown out all of those thoughts. And, if you design creative projects for your students at home, it helps them to also drown out any of those thoughts. It becomes a lot easier to deal with these challenges when you are being creative and working on something new and useful to your personal learning.

You can find more information on homeschooling in Western New York below