Learning and instruction in the time of coronavirus is a new normal for which no one could have been prepared. But for those of us with children, this causes even more complications. No one likes being cooped up inside but it will affect children the hardest. Here are some tips to make learning and instruction easier, despite the new confines in which learning and instruction will now have to occur.

Give all of the facts available (within reason)

COVID-19 or Coronavirus as it’s commonly known, is unlike anything that we’ve seen before. Of course, there have been other scares. In fact, the World Health Organization has a detailed breakdown of disease outbreaks by year (https://www.who.int/csr/don/archive/year/en/). But none have caused the kind of change that we are seeing overnight. All of a sudden, businesses are closing and for the time being, everything that was once social and public is now private and solitary. However, as most negative things do, it also offers an opportunity for growth. The science of disease falls squarely within the confines of STEM. Not only that, an interest in the social sciences like psychology, sociology and mathematical topics like economics and statistics can be explored as it relates to this new shift. By keeping your children informed you may be raising a member of the next wave of scientists who can keep this kind of thing from happening in the future.

Set the proper expectations

We have no way of knowing how long Quarantine from home last. It may be next month (though this is unlikely per https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/we-are-probably-only-a-tenth-of-the-way-through-the-pandemic.html) , within the next few months or (as has been projected) this quarantine can last well into next year. This is why children should be properly prepared for the length of this quarantine and all of the changes that will come along that. Though not being able to go outside and play with the other kids or even see them in person can be disheartening, it is better that they know all of the facts. That way, if things wrap up quicker than expected, seeing their friends again early will be that much sweeter. But if it is extended farther out, it should temper a bit of the disappointment*.

Treat everyday like any other, just inside

They wake up, take a bath, and have breakfast. The only difference is, instead of a walk/bus ride/or car ride to school they will likely sit at a desk and learn from a teacher on a computer screen. Nothing is the same (nor will it ever be) but the purpose is the same. The work ethic should stay the same. Keeping the schedule as close as possible to business as usual is the best way to keep the focus off of being at home and onto being educated despite this crisis.

Break up the monotony

But keeping things the same doesn’t mean that fun can’t happen. There are still plenty of ways to have fun while being inside. (A great article of ways to have fun during quarantine is posted here https://parade.com/1009774/stephanieosmanski/things-to-do-with-kids-during-coronavirus-quarantine/) Impromptu dance parties never go out of style. Cooking lessons and web chats with loved ones are great for staying connected. But for those who just can’t stand not seeing their friends face to face, social distancing does not mean home is a prison. It means that a space of six feet is necessary between individuals. So taking a walk and seeing their friends isn’t against the rules. Playing in the yard isn’t against the rules. Opportunities to communicate with neighbors and do all that can be done within the proper confines are still available to us, though they are more difficult now. But they are not impossible.

Discuss how these changes may reflect a new normal moving forward

We are noticing changes in how education is done (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/13/us/virtual-learning-challenges.html) and how companies operate (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/31/how-will-the-world-emerge-from-the-coronavirus-crisis)during this crisis. Things previously hailed as impossible are now being done to keep our country and communities afloat. A good project for students is to recognize what has now changed and consider how these things will affect our society moving forward. Will studying the virus lead to a better understanding of how environmental factors can cause changes in human biology? In what ways are technology being used to counteract the lack of face to face interaction? What traits cause the largest percentage increases (or decreases) in infected parties? All valid questions that would not have arisen if this virus had not emerged. And though no one can say that this virus is the best thing that could have happened to our society or even our world, the next generation can and should use it to build their knowledge and understanding for the future.

*Note: The author said “should” temper disappointment. Author apologizes if disappointment is not properly tempered. Nyla X-STREAM claims no liability in cases of un-tempered disappointment.

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