Parents adjust to playing the role of in-home teacher

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Parents adjust to playing the role of in-home teacher

Zach & Rose Yanez's home store they set up for their children to purchase items from after earning "cash" from completing their chores (Courtesy Photo).

Stonewall and Fisher County schools started their first days of distance learning shortly after spring break in efforts slow the spread of COVID-19, and as orders from the Governor extend school closures until May, parents are working with teachers to make sure kids keep up with schoolwork.

Distance learning is a form of online education that can be run through several different programs such as Google Classroom and Edmodo. In this way, teachers can still teach classes or assign students work and maintain social distancing, and each school has a different process when it comes to keeping in contact with their students. 

Rotan issued all its students grades 6–12 a laptop and provided those without Wi-Fi access with a personal hotspot. Children grades five and lower are sent paper packets. Roby and Aspermont schools issued out laptops to students that have Wi-Fi at home, and those that don’t receive packets in the mail with assignments, leaving the learning up to the parents and children.

Aspermont High School Principal Trent Van Meter said, “I think that the parents have decided that our jobs were not quite as easy as they thought and that we have to really work together and increase our communication a little bit more, but it’s been nothing but positive on this end.”

Each school has several lines of communication from school to home, using every option available. Students and teachers can communicate via email, text or through phone calls, and parents have to adjust to the teacher role in different ways, bringing its own set of obstacles.

Roby teachers are required to be available through each line of communication to make the at-home learning process easier for the students and parents. RCISD Principal Jason Carter requested all students check their emails daily. 

Ashley Elrod, a mom to two Roby Lions, has been guiding her freshman daughter, Abigail, through online education and teaching her 8-year-old daughter, Madison, Roby’s second-grade curriculum. 

 “I have challenges teaching Madison because I am still working full time, and a lot of the work she can’t get done on her own or just with Abby’s help. So she has to wait until I get home from work to even begin her homework,” said Elrod. 

Rotan principal Jody Helms said that parents at home are overwhelmed having to adapt to the role of teachers. It takes time to understand the content and it gets more difficult depending on the grade of the student. 

Not only is it a task to learn the content, but it’s also a challenge for the parents to know when, and if, students have work. In some cases, each of the schools has experienced situations where students don’t turn in work.

“The parents have been very open to asking for help and we’ve had a few parents ask to be put on the same notifications as the kids so they know what the students are required to do and when they are required to do it,” said Helms. “Taking on the responsibility of teaching their kids is hard for parents to try and manage between work and school.”

Aspermont mom and Director of Nurses for the Gibson Care Center, Cynthia Crisswell, said the biggest challenge for her and her husband — as both are considered essential workers — is trying to find the time to teach their six-year-old son and make sure their two youngest are fed and taken care of. Crisswell spoke highly for Aspermont’s undeniable efforts to make things easier on the parents. 

“I am very appreciative of Aspermont’s school. I know from dealing with them previously is that if there is anything they can do for any child in the school, they would absolutely do it”, said Crisswell. 

With children at home also adapting to the new educational structure, Rotan dad, Zach Yanez said, “This is the time to be parents.” Zach and his wife Rose have taken a different approach to education at home by setting up a whole new world for their children to function. 

With an 11-year-old in fifth grade and an 8-year-old in second grade, Rose has kept the children on a regular school-hours schedule, starting at 8:30 in the morning. 

“We believe in giving the kids structure and giving them a certain amount of responsibility”, said Yanez. 

The children have learned how to keep up with checks, maintain accounts, and how to earn money through a list of chores. Rose has created an in-home store for the kids to spend their earned money. Teaching their kids in a more hands-on way has given them an opportunity to take the time to make sure the children are learning to their full potential. 

“I am able to actually see what they are struggling with. This way, I can see what he’s doing and slow down without having to blow through it just so they can learn for a test. They’re actually absorbing the knowledge,” said Yanez.

Zach said he and his wife don’t face too many obstacles when it comes to teaching at home other than learning the curriculum themselves, so the kids can stay consistent with what they were learning at school.

“Nothing worth having is easy. It’s supposed to be hard and challenging, but that’s what we’re here to help them with,” said Yanez. “This is the time to really come together and teach our kids values. I just want to take the time to thank the teachers that are helping my wife and I get through this together.”

With the Governor’s mandate on Tuesday, effectively closing schools until May 4, teachers will continue guiding parents through the process of educating children at home and working together to allow learning to happen fluidly. No one knows how, or when, the educational system will return to normal, nevertheless, with good communication with parents and teachers, school administrators are applauding parents with the way they have adapted to the new educational landscape at home.

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