By Sun Lee Chang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
When the announcement came earlier this month that school was going to close for several weeks, my immediate reaction was shock. Once reality set in, my husband and I quickly realized we needed to come up with a plan right away. We both normally work in an office, but have switched to working from home. During a lunch break, we decided to take a trip to get arts and crafts materials, and an office supply store was in order.
Here is a list of what we picked up:
- Large poster board
- Ream of paper
- Ream of construction paper
- Watercolor paints
- Several notebooks, lined and unlined
- Math workbooks
Our first task was to come up with a schedule. We enlisted the help of our grade school aged girls. We cut out scraps of paper, 2” x 4”, and wrote their names on some, and then the subjects on the rest of them. We then put times, hourly from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the side of the poster board. We agreed on the subjects to include and some we insisted on, including math, reading, snack time, recess, physical education, health, art, science, and history. Then we put those subjects on the board under their names next to the times we agreed on.
For math, we decided to assign them a certain number of pages from the math workbook. These workbooks are available at office supply stores and online. We really like the Spectrum series and picked up a few different subjects. The kids work silently on them, unless they need help. This enabled my husband and I to catch up on our work while they were able to work on their math.
For reading, we used the King County Global Reading Challenge 2019 list that is online at kcls.org/blogs/post/global-reading-challenge. We had some books, but others were readily available online. We assigned them 30 to 40 minutes of reading the book of their choice.
For writing, we thought it would be fun for the girls to come up with a family history book. The assignment is to interview everyone in the family, one by one, and then write up a page for each of them, including a drawing or photo of the interviewed person. This had the added benefit of making them reach out to isolated individuals, especially during this time of social distancing. People in the family seemed to be genuinely excited about this project and are readily participating.
Physical education and recess include time outside in our backyard, on the trampoline, and on bad-weather days, inside on the treadmill or dancing to dance video games.
We also have some science workbooks and experiment books. That said, some of the most fun “science” activities include lessons on baking (where certain chemical reactions can be explained while baking). Even slime can be educational if we take the time to break down why certain chemicals work to make different kinds of slime.
Last, but not least, we also incorporated materials that our teachers have emailed to us. We found that together, the materials complement and supplement what we found. Also, there are plenty of enrichment opportunities now being offered online, such as Seattle Symphony concerts and live camera feeds from zoos that have closed.
This all seemed pretty ambitious before we tried it. It definitely doesn’t take the place of solid instruction in a school setting. However, our kids seem to like the one-on-one attention and the structure was very welcome as we navigated the new world of working at home and teaching our kids at the same time.
Sun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.