April 16 Coronavirus Update: The Challenge Of Homeschooling

Karin Shallenberger holds up two lobsters that she's about to cook during a mother-daughter road trip to Maine.
Credit Krysti Shallenberger / KYUK

With school closed because of the pandemic, parents are learning to teach kids at home, which is something KYUK’s Krysti Shallenberger experienced when she was growing up. Her mother, Karin Shallenberger, taught her and her four siblings at home. Shallenberger has some advice parents who now have to do home schooling:  Relax and do simple things, like set up a space for kids to study, and create a daily routine.

Karin Shallenberger says don’t over-do it and spend too much time teaching…but keep it simple, and let the kids go on their own, applying what was taught. She also suggested not teaching all the hard subjects at once, but mixing it up and following hard lessons with something easier.

“Maybe start off with math. You give a lesson and then let them go and solve some problems so they understand the concept. And then go to something light, like English, where they can relax on the couch and read for a little bit. And also, if you have a couple of kids, you can be teaching some while others are doing self-directed studies.”

Shallenberger thinks one of the best things she did for her family’s education was to read to them every morning at breakfast.

“If somebody got a little antsy or was late to breakfast, you kids kind of self-policed each other because you wanted to hear the stories too. So that was a fun tradition," Shallenberger said.

But parents teaching kids at home now aren’t doing it by choice. They have to because the schools closed down to help keep people from getting sick.  There’s an element of fear in what is happening now, and  Shallenberger says parents need to explain that honestly to the younger students, but also treat it as a lesson for the older students.

“Google what a virus is. Google the past pandemics. And then start topics of discussion. So if you were president how would you handle this? If you were governor how would you handle this? Just start a discussion and be a part of the solution and try to have a positive outlook," Shallenberger said.

Shallenberger knows being positive is hard, but she says this moment will pass. She advised people to recognize moments, and to document this time as best they can.

“Because 50 years from now, it’s going to be the pictures, and the notes and the journals that you create during this time that the next generation will look back on and this will be history," Shallenberger said.

Shallenberger’s children all graduated homeschool, and most finished college and started careers.