Coronavirus is requiring Lake Houston parents to take on the responsibilities that teachers and childcare have always provided.
Coronavirus has turned homes into homeschools.
A group called the New American Think Tank in New York City believes that the coronavirus could “… lead to a vast unplanned experiment in mass home-schooling.”
It’s daunting. It’s unfamiliar. It’s scary. But it’s got to be done.
“Don’t give up,” said Jennifer Carney, a Lake Houston resident who founded Carney’s Tutoring, a locally owned and operated pay-as-you-go group and individual tutoring center focusing on K-12 students in the Lake Houston area.
“School is not going to look exactly as it did a few weeks ago,” she said. “Many parents are teaching multiple kids at different age levels. That’s not easy.”
As they interact with their kids, Carney tells parents to be sure to take their cues from those same kids.
“This is a strange time for everyone,” she says. “Your child may be stressed because we, as parents, are stressed. Focus on little wins. Sitting them down and expecting them to learn at home all day isn’t going to happen.”
Carney believes everything a parent does can be a lesson and a teachable moment.
“Cooking can teach measurement. Board games can help with numbers, counting and, sometimes, reading,” she suggested. “Think outside the box. Frankly, the best learning happens when you don’t realize you are really learning. Make learning fun.”
Carney is well-positioned to help exasperated parents. She graduated from Texas A&M University (Whoop) with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in middle school math and science. She was a Riverwood Middle School teacher when she saw the need for students needing enrichment and help outside the classroom.
“I saw how teachers are getting overwhelmed in the classroom, having to deal with much more than just teaching,” Carney said. “I wanted to meet kids at their current education level and help them succeed.”
She founded Carney’s Tutoring in 2011 with the mission of “… making every child feel like they’re smart and they matter. We build confidence and success,” she said.
“Home tutoring isn’t for every student but, in this environment, it currently has to be,” Carney said. “Our brains think of home as relaxing, fun, a place to sleep. And now, it’s our school, too. Having a schedule, though, will help, and being flexible with that schedule will help a lot. Each day is not going to look the same.”
The Texas Home School Coalition recently launched a new website to help parents who find themselves homeschooling by surprise during the current epidemic at thsc.org/homeschool-resources. The coalition also has a new Coronavirus Homeschool Support Facebook Group which posts information and helpful tips.
“We offer many free resources to our followers and readers, and even more resources to our members,” says Stephen
Howsley, public policy analyst with the coalition. “We want to assist homeschool families however we can, from making curriculum recommendations, to offering templates for report cards and transcripts and even offering legal assistance for our members.”
The coalition has compiled on their website a list, “Finding Resources During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” that ranges from “Guide to keeping homeschool records,” to “Teaching computer programming from home” and “Virtual field trips.”
Carney offers online tutoring though Zoom, a remote conferencing service allowing students and their teachers to video conference and chat. And, for parents worried about their offspring who are about to apply to college, Carney offers SAT and ACT prep classes as well.
“We continue to offer one-on-one tutoring just like before but it’s happening through Zoom,” said Carney. “We now also offer group classes. Elementary students meet twice a week and we provide all the curriculum. Zoom allows them to meet with their peers and their tutors to ask questions and go over the lessons and get any help they may need.”
Carney said middle and high school teachers now are pushing work out without the instructions and students are feeling lost, frustrated and even overwhelmed.
“Parents have sent us emails thanking us for supporting their children,” Carney said. “One mom explained how her elementary-age son was in tears each day because he was so frustrated with his schoolwork. Since seeing our tutors online, it’s all changed. He looks forward to seeing his tutor twice a week.”