When School and Home Collide During COVID-19
UHD’s Dr. Diane Miller Provides Insight on Home-Schooling
By Sheryl E. Taylor
The COVID-19 pandemic has and will forever change our lives. Everything that was once familiar, and routine is now different. Parents and guardians of school-aged children are being faced with burgeoning challenges in how to maintain their kids’ education at home.
Dr. Diane Miller, assistant professor in UHD’s Department of Urban Education wants you to know that while the struggle is real, there’s some good news.
“Seemingly overnight, worlds have collided in our homes. Pre-virus, adults and children routinely plodded through daily obligations as if living in parallel universes—adults headed to work and children went to school,” said Miller. “This collision of the adult and child worlds is proving what those of us in education have known all along. Teachers work extremely hard at one of the most glorious, frustrating, honorable and challenging jobs. Teaching is not easy, and it is not an occupation that can easily be taken up at a moment’s notice.”
So, what’s the biggest takeaway for parents/guardians during such uncertain times?
“Our existing identities are being challenged at every turn as our daily lives are being reconfigured and shifted to accommodate social distancing and isolation—that is difficult enough in itself,” she emphasized. “Parents/guardians shouldn’t feel like they are having to take on completely new identities as teachers. Instead, they should endeavor to be as engaged and supportive of their children’s learning as they are able to be within their primary identities as parents/guardians.”
What would you remind anxious parents/guardians to be mindful of as they navigate this new and daunting frontier with their children?
"Consistency is key to provide a more predictable environment for children and parents/guardians,” noted Miller. “If we view this stay-at-home time in its broad entirety, our outlook will be clouded by anxiety and stress. However, approaching each day as a set of manageable, predictable ‘chunks’ will help parents/guardians to manage, and perhaps even enjoy these moments with their children that were so rare in the hustle and bustle of our pre-virus lives.”
Any words of encouragement?
“No one expects you to master a new profession in the midst of full-time childcare and telecommuting. Do what you can with what you have. Listen to your children. Indulge in their curiosities and creativity. Read with your children. Explore with your children,” Miller said. “Give each other some space and grace … and breathe.”
MILLER’S QUICK TIPS
Miller suggests that parents/guardians create a workable, family-friendly, quarantine-safe survival plan for their homeschool situation that combines structure, self-care and study.
STRUCTURE: For the first few days, an extended Spring Break didn’t sound that bad, right? Disrupted sleep patterns, junk food, and tons of screen time are the treasured indulgences of a “break.” Deep down, children crave structure and consistency, even if they won’t admit it out loud! Their brains have room to grow and their souls have space to soar when they can depend upon reliable routines. There is comfort in regular bedtimes, morning tasks and regular meal events. Fill in the predictable gaps with a realistic schedule of school-oriented work, house chores, physical activity, and down time. Remember parents/guardians to incorporate your own telecommuting needs.
SELF-CARE: In the uncertainty and stress of this pandemic pause of our usual lives, we have to remember to be good to ourselves. Make sure that your structure allows time to breathe some fresh air, to celebrate (or reestablish!) your family’s connections, and to honor your reactions to these life changes. Don’t lose sight of your health—physical and emotional.
STUDY: Teachers know that students’ skills, whether developing or advanced, are worthless without motivation. Find ways to engage your child. Involve your children in age-appropriate planning for the daily schedule. Empower your children to make choices about what they’re reading, exploring and thinking. Consider how you continue to learn in your adult life and model that excitement. Read something together and then chat about it, watch a movie and have each family member claim their favorite character or rework the ending, walk outside and observe the world’s patterns in its strangely quiet state, or call an isolated grandparent and ask for stories of the near and not-so-near past. If you have Internet access and a device, you can register for virtual classes at a museum or consult a video about factoring polynomials or draw daily doodles with Mo Willems.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.