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Dowds Elementary students in Shelby gather around the Buddy Bench for reading time. 

MANSFIELD — Remote learning looks different in a lot of households, but there are a few steps parents can take to ensure their child’s education and home life remain unaffected. 

Brad Strong, 6th grade teacher at Malabar Intermediate School, has 71 students on his roster. Although there are a few students he hasn’t heard from since schools closed, he continues to be there for those who want to reach out with questions or concerns even if the distance can be felt. 

“I don’t think they really need the help. I think they just need somebody to touch base with them,” Strong said.  

As a parent himself, Strong recognizes that parents unfamiliar with homeschooling are doing the best they can under circumstances they were unprepared for. 

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Students at Auburn Elementary prepare to switch class. 

“I think it’s a tough time that we’re going through, and I think anything that looks like normal, kids are clinging to and reaching out to,” Strong said.  

Realizing that not every child’s home life is the same, Strong worries that the “summer slide” may come a little sooner than normal. 

“I’m worried about what kids are going to lose. Because we always have a summer slide anyway where kids lose a reading level, or kids lose some of the math operations, but is it going to be double this year?” he questioned. 

Richland School of Academic Arts Superintendent Sandra Sutherland shares the same sentiments, her concern rests on students in the lower level grades.

“You have kindergartners who are just becoming readers, and then you have first graders who are still working at trying to learn how to read, and I’m worried about them,” Sutherland said. 

With literacy being an essential part of the other core subjects, Sutherland fears students will fall behind as they pass on to other grades. 

“Parents have not been trained to start a reader or to give any kind of foundational strength to the reading… And it’s not their fault, it’s not their job,” she said. “But if you don’t start those readers correctly, and they don’t have a solid foundation, then they’re going to have years of struggle.” 

It’s hard for students to maintain a routine, which is why Sutherland sent her students home with calendars and packets and online workbooks that would hopefully help parents with setting up a schedule at home. 

With remote schooling, a child can be free to get their work done at a leisurely pace as opposed to being in a classroom where you’re immersed and can’t leave it, according to Sutherland. 

"We've taken their daily routine away from them, we’ve taken a source of food away from them,” Sutherland said. “Parents are doing the best they can. They were sort of plunged into this without a lot of notice.” 

She gave a lot of credit to the parents at Richland School of Academic Arts for their hard work during these stressful times, communicating with teachers and giving their thanks for the materials provided by the school. 

“And that’s what it takes,” Sutherland said. “It really takes that one on one communication with the parent by the teacher and reaching out… and that’s the kind of thing that will keep parents on track.”

Although the Mansfield-Richland County Library remains closed until further notice, there are homeschooling resources available online for parents to use during and after remote schooling. 

Other resources from the library include: The Family Zone, which offers literacy tips, story time ideas, author spotlights, digital resources, as well as a list of fun and educational online resources. 

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Students prepare to walk into their first day of school.

Strong noted the key difference between a student who’s used to remote learning via home school and a student who’s more comfortable in a classroom setting. In his opinion, it’s all about the parents’ dedication to it. 

“The child will learn whether they’re at home or at school. They’re going to be OK,” Strong said. “It’s the dedication of the parents. If the parents are dedicated to doing the process of homeschooling, it’s going to be successful. Because it can’t just be a child’s will or want to do that.” 

Strong’s recommendations to those parents currently struggling includes: online services, educational based programs, using real world situations (baking, measuring, store runs), and most importantly making sure their child remains active. 

“Normal will come back,” Strong said. “It may look a little bit different, it may take a little bit of time, but normal will come back.” 


Other homeschooling or schooling from home resources:

  1. Read Aloud Revival is a good resource for schooling at home as it includes book lists, activities and a podcast. https://readaloudrevival.com/

  2. DayByDayOhio Family Literacy Calendar at http://www.daybydayoh.org/

  3. PBS Kids offers educational games and activities at https://pbskids.org/

  4. Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy has a lot of literacy tips and reading information at https://www.clel.org/

  5. Ohio Homeschooling Parents offer some resources that may be helpful. https://ohiohomeschoolingparents.com/homeschooling-resources

  6. Prompt provides thoughtful, constructive feedback on student essays and written practice exams to help children become better writers and learn priceless communication skills. https://prompt.com/
     

This story is brought to you in part by the Little Buckeye Children's Museum, a local children's museum that is proud to provide children and families opportunities to learn and discover through the power of play every day in Richland County. As a nonprofit, Little Buckeye Children's Museum appreciates the support of the community it serves. If you would like to support Little Buckeye Children's Museum and its mission for healthy child development, click here.

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Thrive Reporter

Tierra Thomas is the Thrive Reporter. She was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. When she's not writing news, she's writing fiction or taking photos.