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Bringing the Classroom Home

From preschools to universities, students, families and teachers are making the transition from in-classroom learning to at-home learning as a safety precaution to slow down the spread of COVID-19. But this transition may leave some feeling overwhelmed or unprepared.

Dannielle Joy Davis, Ph.D., an associate professor in SLU’s School of Education, has focused her research on home education. She was homeschooled through part of her own childhood and also homeschools her own son. Her first piece of advice for parents and guardians facing the prospect of homeschooling for the first time? "You can do this."

“You know your child better than anyone else, so you are uniquely qualified to teach him/her at a high level,” she said. “If you taught your child how to wash their face or tie their shoes, you can teach them the academic skills they need to succeed.”

Dannielle Davis and her family.

Davis, pictured here with her son who she currently homeschools and her mother, an educator who homeschooled her through parts of her youth. 

Supplementing School Curriculum

For many families, schools have supplied lesson plans and virtual class sessions during this time. Davis recommends parents and guardians supplement that curriculum by finding real-world ways to bring learning to life for a child. 

"For example, if a lesson is on the Civil Rights movement, consider having your child call a grandparent or another elder to interview them on what life was like during that time," she said. "If they’re studying geometric figures, have your child find circles around the house and then calculate the circumference." 

Davis encourages working parents and guardians to even consider incorporating their child’s learning into their own work. 

“I have seen wonderful examples of how entrepreneurs actively include their children in the family business while creatively increasing the child’s practical math and science skills,” she said. 

Davis said parents and guardians should try not to feel constricted by the traditional idea of education through this process. 

“The biggest mistake that can be made is seeking to recreate the traditional brick and mortar school with its seven- to eight-hour schedule into your homeschool environment,” she said. “Due to the small amount of children in most homeschooling settings and the often one-to-one teacher-student ratio, more learning often is accomplished in shorter amounts of time.” 

An Opportunity

Davis said she hopes that parents and guardians will use this time as an opportunity to infuse the joy of learning into their households, just as her mother did for her when she was a child. 

“These memories of her teaching me how to read, me presenting to her on topics of my choice, and her patiently teaching me how to braid my hair are all acts of love that will never be erased,” she said. “You have the power to put absolute joy into the learning process for your child.”

Online Resources

While Davis suggests not making technology central to your child’s education, she does note the value in using it to support your homeschooling efforts. She recommends the following online resources: