Many Education Choices –including nature — in time of Pandemic

Between the viral pandemic, ordinary sickness, and  school and work scheduling, parents now have many choices — many choices they are being forced into.

In my own little city’s school district (we were in The New York Times!), they have had to start school in-person, then go to online/distance learning, and had “planned” to go back to school in-person August 31. But our COVID-19 numbers have been ridiculous (30-50 cases a day). Now, no  in-person classes till at least September 14 because college students and some others are not practicing social distancing or wearing a mask.

So, as a parent, what can you do? If you can afford/arrange for daycare or an offsite school to take your child that would be a great option. But what if you are at home and “you” are the teacher? Should you join some group?

The National Education Association (NEA), which represents schoolteachers and is up on the latest education issues,  doesn’t presently endorse these so-called “pandemic pods” some parents are turning to. For one, are they being managed by a certified teacher?  Do they follow your State Dept. of Education standards for your child’s grade? What are the minimum goals they need to reach for that year? And the NEA is not thrilled that a national “Emergency Education Freedom Grant” is being introduced by Republicans in order to fund these pandemic pods.

The NEA has some tools (and so does this writer) to make education at home work better. Besides learning about your state’s education standards/curriculum for your child’s grade, you should:

1) Maintain a daily routine at home;

2) Give your child rules for healthy eating and sleeping habits;

3) Find a specific time and place for schoolwork;

4) (GREAT AMER. IDEA) Make nature your classroom sometimes.

Richard Louv, author Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder, remembers his childhood out in nature fondly. “The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.” And “unlike TV, nature does not steal time; it amplifies it,” he feels.

In his book he recommends, especially in warmer weather, taking a flashlight with your child during a walk in the dark in the neighborhood. Listen for the sounds of nature, and see if you can identify them, or maybe run into a racoon or possum out prowling. During the day you can meditate in the midst of the great outdoors, perform science experiments, plant flowers and vegetables and identify their parts. Visit (and social distance) a state or local park to I. D. trees with a library guidebook, looking at the leaf shapes, and do the same for wildflowers. Get a book on great men or women in science (such as Great American Women in Science and Environment, at www.booklocker.com/books/11083.html).

There are many resources out there for educating your child…

www. nea.org/tools/AdviceAndSupport.html

https://educatingthroughcrisis.org

(art activities) https://littlbinsforlittlehands.com

(Richard Louv’s tips) www.richardlouv.com/news/

https://www.k12.com/parent-student-resources/strong-start.html

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