In-home learning

Parents: Expect twists and turns this school year. Tough decisions must be made between online, in-person, hybrid schooling, or homeschooling. Schools may open, only to possibly close during outbreaks. Making plans for various home-learning scenarios may calm anxiety in the family.

Are your algebra skills rusty? Don’t fear; plenty of support exists for navigating difficult subjects. Teachers, tutors and other educational professionals can also assist with performing arts, fine arts, physical fitness, learning plans, speech, behavioral and counseling services and literacy development. There are also helpers for athletes, SAT testing and college applications. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind: First, get your child on board. Help them see assistance as a positive endeavor to reach personal goals. Get referrals from people who know your child’s personality and learning style. Seek people that create positive connections with your child – this is very important during social distancing.

Do your parental due diligence and run background checks on individuals working with your child. Require a fingerprint clearance card from the Department of Public Safety and call DPS to verify. Call their professional references. Once hired, set them up in the same room as you, even if the consultation is an online platform like Zoom. 

Know what credentials you want in a home-learning helper and find someone who meets you and your child’s needs. 

To make AP history come alive, or understand the “why” of calculus, you’ll want an expert in those fields. Credentialed teachers also understand educational theory, have strategies for learning and can adequately identify unique needs. Tutors will typically have specialized training in certain areas. 

Set clear boundaries on how you want a helper to assist your child. For example, avoid academic drills with young children. Early childhood educators will offer developmentally appropriate activities, suggest tools to enrich play, recognize developmental milestones, offer alternatives to electronic devices and find safe ways to connect with peers.

Many educational resources cost nothing. For young children, reach out to their preschool for support or contact organizations like Southwest Human Development or First Things First for guidance. The free Birth to Five Helpline has bilingual specialists to help with questions ranging from challenging behaviors and sleep issues, to speech and psychological referrals. Call 877-705-KIDS. 

The free online Khan Academy is well-known for college test preparation, but it serves students of all ages with resources for parents. 

Librarians are also wonderful resources for home learning. Phoenix Public Library offers curbside pickup of books and will deliver them to the trunk of your car with no contact. Older students can take advantage of Phoenix Public Library’s College Depot for help with college admissions. 

Consider a different kind of tutoring experience and have your high schooler shadow a professional in their potential field of interest. Ask Phoenix and Scottsdale civic groups to help arrange connections. 

School buildings may temporarily close, but learning doesn’t stop. There are plenty of people ready to support you and your child. They may even help you find more time for family activities, making the best of this historic time in which we find ourselves. 

— Nola Enge, Ph.D., is director at The Hills School at Shepherd of the Hills, 5524 E. Lafayette Blvd. For more: thehillsschool.org.