CARP – As the world works to protect itself from the COVID-19 pandemic, the students of Ontario are now entering their fourth week without a school to go to.
The government has created an online education curriculum and hundreds of thousands of Ontario parents have now added teacher to their list of skills on their resumes. It ain’t easy.
West Carleton Online spoke with the Carp Village Tutoring owner Sarah Reid to get some homeschooling tips for those who are struggling to take up the role of teacher without any training or background in the challenging vocation.
“I think the biggest challenge is getting in to a routine and being able to stay focused and on task while being surrounded by their toys and video games and let’s not forget the distraction of siblings,” Reid told West Carleton Online last Thursday (April 9).
Reid is a certified reading specialist trained in the Orton-Gillingham method. She was certified in 2016 from the Dyslexia Training Institute and completed her practicum at the International School of Basel in Switzerland. Reid’s training is supported with a bachelor’s degree in Law and Psychology and a diploma in Business Administration.
Reid, who has lived in Carp with her family since 2016 after living abroad, originally trained in the Orton-Gillingham system in order to help her son who suffers from dyslexia.
“I wanted to become certified to help my son,” Reid told West Carleton Online yesterday (Jan. 7) from her small learning centre in The Village Station. “It turned out, I didn’t need to help my son, we found an amazing tutor. But I ended up working with other children.”
Reid says setting up a ‘classroom’ that can help your child focus on learning, is a key first step.
“I would recommend having a designated spot for learning in the house free from distractions and clutter,” Reid said. “You want the child to be able to sit comfortably with plenty of surface space to write and work on a device whether computer, laptop or iPad (if available). I would not recommend working in their bedroom, unless they are very good at routine and focusing on the task at hand; bedrooms are a place associated with relaxing and sleeping which is not what we want for at-home learning.”
Reid preaches quality over quantity.
“I think it all comes down to the quality of the learning really,” she said. “If a child sits down and really focuses and works for three hours cumulative a day, then I would say that is pretty good. When you think of a regular school day there are a lot of other things happening than just learning, such as breaks, social interactions, and even in the class kids are not ‘on’ 100 per cent all the time. I think learning at home is just a concentrated version of a regular school day, but I recommend not doing more than 30 to 40 minutes at a time then get up and get moving with some physical activity.”
As a parent-teacher, it’s doubtful you have a university degree, followed by two years of teacher’s college – unless your real job is a teacher. Reid says there are plenty of resources available to give you some ideas and lesson plans that are free on the world wide web.
“This is actually a great time to try out some of the online resources for learning as most, if not all, of them are offering free trials,” Reid said. “There are so many great ones out there, you just need to Google what you are looking for and you will find it. You can even find virtual museums online now which is just amazing. Personally I use Kahn Academy for my own kids and students as it covers all subjects and I love the way they have broken down the day and lessons in to a daily schedule with sequential lessons for the kiddos – that is really helpful for parents. I also use Raz-Kids for reading. Establishing a routine though is the first thing to do then fill it in with all those free resources. Even a regular online tutoring session weekly to help supplement the school board’s online education platform is so ideal during this time and easily done now that Carp Village Tutoring is all setup for that medium. I think this is something we will continue to provide in the future.”
Reid has spent time looking through the province’s online education program, and while it’s a challenging time, with children all progressing at different levels, she doesn’t expect anyone will be left behind when school starts up again.
“I have briefly gone through it and think it offers some good information and things to do for your kids,” Reid said. “It’s a great starting point for families. I think the key thing to remember is that your children are not alone in this as all kids are experiencing this difficult time. When school starts up again the school board will account for this time and kids will get caught up at the end of the day.”