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Connections Academy offers homeschooling tips to parents amid COVID-19 related school closures

All South Carolina pre-K-12 school, public college, university and technical college students are in the midst of adjusting to online instruction during the coronavirus pandemic. South Carolina Connections Academy, a K-12 education program that offers virtual learning from home, offered homeschooling tips for parents to follow during this unprecedented time.

Joshua Kitchens, executive director of Connections Academy’s schools in South Carolina, advises that parents:

  • Convey calm. In the case of coronavirus, or any other crisis, Kitchens and Connections Academy encourages parents to first assess and address the safety and well-being of their student.
  • Create a Family Plan for Success. Students work well with, and are used to, routines, so parents should “keep them going at home.” A student’s teacher typically assigns a list of lessons or activities with due dates and allocates time for online experiences. Kitchens advises that parents take time to plan ahead with their students and discuss expectations for completing schoolwork and attending classes at home. He also recommends making a schedule to help manage the whole family, including anyone who is working or learning at home.
  • Organize your space. Students are more invested in learning when they have a dedicated school space, “even if it’s just a corner of a room.” Kitchens recommends that parents aim for a place that is free from distractions and noise when deciding upon space to teach their students. Parents with more than one child, he suggests using different spaces for each child to help them with their focus.
  • Socialize. Much of a child’s time at school is about having fun and connecting with new ideas and friends, Kitchens notes. With technology, kids can be anywhere in the world without having to leave home. He recommends that they take virtual field trips to museums or foreign countries, play interactive games and video call with friends and family.
  • Ask for Help. Kitchens acknowledged that this is an unprecedented time and parents aren’t expected to do it alone.

Kitchens understands that parents and students are dealing with uncertainty because there is “so much unknown.”

“Students and parents have had their normal routines really shaken (up),” he said. “I think anything that can be done in the home should provide (a) sense of normalcy, routine, even though it’s not going to be what they’re used to.”

While at home, Kitchens advises that students find pieces that are essential to their overall learning process, and think outside the box in terms of being open to learning life lessons.

“Life lessons that will not only help you in the classroom but will help you grow as a person,” he said. Parents and students are getting a glimpse of what virtual education looks like, and Kitchens notes how even during this abnormal situation, so much of what families are doing today is very similar to what Connections Academy does on a daily basis.

Contact reporter Jonathan Limehouse at 864-943-5644 or follow him on Twitter @jon_limehouse.

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