How to Support Learning at Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) presents a wide range of challenges for parents, students, and caregivers, one of the largest being learning and curriculum. Many parents are concerned about how their child will fare considering the many months they have been away from traditional learning and in-person classrooms. However, even though schools and summer camps are closed, children are still able to grow, learn and thrive during this time at home. While the concept of success and learning may be a bit different while at home with many different family members, children still have many ways of reaching their academic milestones.

Play-based learning. Dr. Angela Pyle, an assistant professor and researcher at OISE at the University of Toronto, researches the benefits of play-based learning for young children. Her research has indicated that play-based learning is valuable for strengthening cognitive development, social-emotional skills, and self-regulation. All their creative play-based learning activities can be found here:

Have kids create their own games. Older children can create games and teach them to the whole family and younger siblings. This will help develop their planning, creativity, and confidence when they relay the information and rules back to the rest of the family.

Reading buddies. In households with more than one child, you can support both children’s learning by have the older child read aloud to the younger one. Having an older child read to a younger one increases their literacy skill development. The older child will also benefit by increasing their reading confidence, as well as increasing their fluency of reading, if the book is at a lower reading-level.

Virtual reading buddies. If your child has no siblings or other kids they are quarantined with, you can use videoconferencing to call siblings, cousins, or friends and have students read aloud to one another virtually. If any family members are isolating separately, this activity can be done virtually to incorporate social interaction.

Cooking and baking can be used to teach children practical skills. Planning and reading can be practiced by asking the child to read out the recipe, assemble the ingredients and tools, and learn about measurement, weights, and temperatures.

Hygiene, which is critical during a pandemic, can be practiced where children must wash their hands before and after each step of the recipe to avoid contamination. Critical thinking can be fostered during the pandemic through baking or cooking if you are missing an ingredient; ask your child to brainstorm a substitute ingredient using what you have at home, rather than going to the store, plus evaluating the final product they have created.

Gardening. This activity builds on lessons of biology and math, learning how the plants make food and the size of the space you will need to plan certain plants. Have your children measure and plan out where they can plant. Foster their responsibility, by assigning tasks for each of your children or having them each care for specific plants.

Create a schedule of chores. Just like in the classroom, you can teach children responsibility by assigning them tasks in the home. Make a visual schedule and have your kids mark down when they have done each task such as dog walking, watering plants, folding laundry, setting the table, or taking care of a younger sibling by reading a story to them.

By Ana Zdravkovic, M.A., Ph.D. Student and Esther Geva, Ph.D, C. Psych.

July 20, 2020