As the situation surrounding the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to evolve, we are all adjusting to a new normal. Schools in Idaho, and in most other states, will be closed to students for the next several weeks. The transition to students learning from home can be difficult not only for them, but for their family and other household members.
As students, teachers and parents adjust to learning at home, INL’s K-12 Education Program is dedicated to supporting these efforts by providing digital resources and other support.
Learning from Home resource library
One major cornerstone of this effort is a new “Learning from Home” resource library, which hosts an ever-growing number of lessons designed specifically for the current circumstances.
INL’s K-12 Education team includes local teachers as part of its Partnering Teachers program, and these 10 dedicated professional educators have been instrumental in the development of this “Learning from Home” curriculum.
Each new activity is designed and tested to be hands-on, aligned with curriculum standards, tailored for a specific age range, and easy to do with items commonly found around the house. Topics range from physics and biochemistry to simple engineering and coding, all in order to introduce students to a broad range of STEM topics. All “Learning from Home” STEM lessons include vocabulary, a supply list and step-by-step instructions to ensure success for parents and students. Each lesson includes an explanation of the science or math concepts, principles and skills behind the activity, and real-world connections.
While students may still be attending their regular classes online and working on their typical school projects, these new lessons can help keep them engaged and may even introduce them to new topics and disciplines.
“At the core of our mission is a commitment to impact and support students, teachers and families across Idaho and the nation,” said Jennifer Jackson, INL’s K-12 education program manager. “We hope that by providing access to high quality STEM learning activities, we can help families discover and learn together while staying safe at home.”
A new lesson is provided each weekday in the resource library. In addition to viewing the archived lessons at any time, parents are encouraged to follow INL on social media, where a new activity is highlighted each morning.
The INL resource library contains a section on “helpful links for families” that may be useful to browse. Featured links include the Idaho STEM Action Center Resource Portal, which hosts a wide range of information, and a Spanish-language STEM resources list for students who are more comfortable learning in Spanish. Discovery Channel’s Navigating Nuclear curriculum, which includes a virtual field trip to INL facilities, is a great tool for older students.
Tips and tricks for student success at home
Spending more time at home can be a big adjustment for everyone in the household, especially as parents and students learn to work alongside each other in their home space. While many recommendations for best practices during remote work have been published, there is less information on how to help students during these circumstances.
Some tips and tricks that may be helpful for families as they make changes to meet the new needs of each member of their household include:
- Create a schedule. Students are very accustomed to working off schedules, so creating something similar at home can ease the transition to remote learning. Don’t forget to build in time to be “unplugged” from devices and media.
- Designate a primary learning space for your children and gather typical school supplies and books for easy access. To personalize their learning space, let kids decorate it with their artwork and other fun decorations to make the space more engaging.
- Involve your children in their own learning choices. This will go a long way to motivate them. When building a learning plan, focus on the basics using a variety of resources, but don’t get bogged down in the planning.
- Build in recess with physical activity. If you can, get outside to take a walk or just play, but if weather doesn’t allow it, have a dance party or exercise session.
- Find a good learning balance. Most kids love hands-on and active learning, so try to find a good balance of book-type work, online learning, digital media, and hands-on, project-based learning. Set aside plenty of time to read to your child every day.
- For your own sanity if you are working from home, devise a signal for your children if you shouldn’t be disturbed in your own work when you’re in a meeting or on a call. This could be as simple as hanging a green or red paper outside your home office space.
Other INL STEM support
As a resource for employees and the education community, INL’s education team is looking to support parents in the coming weeks. To request additional support or connect directly with an educator on questions and ideas, visit our website and click on “Request STEM Support.”
Posted April 8, 2020