OK, so this happened.
You’ve made it through two weeks of the novel coronavirus school closures and you’re probably just now catching your breath. School closures in Oregon will continue through at least April 28.
Many of your go-to local resources like libraries and museums are also closed. And as this new reality sinks in, you may be feeling overwhelmed by working, as well as feeding, supervising, entertaining and teaching your children at home.
It’s no small thing you’re doing.
Breathe now. Stay with me.
According to the Oregon Department of Education, no one expects you to replace formal learning. Even the state is focused on “supplemental learning opportunities,” according to ODE. To underscore that, ODE has asked the U.S. Department of Education for permission to waive state testing for the year.
So official expectations are pretty low.
And there are resources out there.
We’ve compiled, with the help of teachers and other knowledgeable education-types, a list of free local and national online resources.
Let’s start with need-to-know resources from the ODE and Portland Public Schools on urgent and general up-to-date COVID-19 information. ODE has a COVID-19 FAQ and PPS has a coronavirus page focused on meals, child care, health and safety.
Before schools were closed many teachers distributed take home materials, but they didn’t know about the extended closure at that point. Teachers and districts are reaching out directly to their students with tools for remote instruction with additional hands-on activities and assignments. To supplement this, ODE and area schools have online resources available now if you have internet access.
As you started on this journey as a parent or guardian you have surely found that there are so, so many online resources available to engage your kids at home. Sometimes, too many.
You’ll be at home for a while, and there’s a lot of material, so we’ll roll this out in pieces. This is part one.
Let’s start with students who are too seldom thought of first — children with disabilities and in need of extra support.
The Council for Exceptional Children has developed COVID-19 information for special educators.
The New York City Department of Education offers suggested activities and strategies for families to support diverse learning at home for special populations.
The Autism Speaks website has tips for recreational and educational activities for children with autism.
FACT Oregon is offering regular check-ins and webinars to help local families figure out how to keep their child with disabilities learning through the coronavirus hiatus.
For the unwired
For those who do not have or have limited access to online connectivity, one place you can look to is OPB’s own television channels. OPB is revamping its programming lineup from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to prioritize educational shows. If those 12 hours aren’t enough, OPB’s 10.3 channel has kids’ programming 24/7.
Downtime to de-stress is imperative right now, for your children and for you, so check out these breathing and mindfulness techniques at this great local resource Peace in the Schools.
Online learning staples
If you’ve poked around on your own for education resources, chances are you’ve come across Khan Academy. It offers lessons on a range of topics, organized by subject and grade level.
Scholastic Learn at Home has reading activities.
If your kids are toddlers, preschoolers or as old as third grade, ABCMouse includes step-by-step instruction for those ages. Their website starts with a free trial for 30 days.
If you want lessons from actual teachers, check out the American Federation of Teachers’ Share My Lesson site, where teachers have plans ranging from Pre-K to high school (the included link lands on its coronavirus-related page, but there’s all kinds of stuff there, if you look around).
Another trusted source for educators, parents and students is PBS Learning Media which includes standards-aligned videos, interactives and lesson plans.
You can find parenting resources and activities for children on the parents’ side of PBS Kids. Check out the “Make a Hero Self Portrait” activity, because, well, why not embrace your inner superhero?!
Before the internets, Annenberg Learner (previously known as Annenberg/CPB) provided video lessons covering all subject matters that were broadcast on public broadcasting and on TV’s in classrooms across the country. Their content is now online.
If you’d like something really visual, try Essential Lens: Analyzing Photographs Across the Curriculum, produced by OPB for Annenberg Learner. It includes lessons across curriculum disciplines and a comprehensive list of photographic collections.
TEDEd’s mission is to spark and celebrate the ideas of teachers and students around the world.
Dhawal Shah, the founder of the online course aggregator Class Central, compiled a list of more than 400 classes that are available in subjects as varied as “Machine Learning” at Georgia Tech to “Greek and Roman Mythology” at University of Pennsylvania.
Open Culture provides its own clearinghouse of free K-12 resources, ranging from the National Constitution Center to online drawing lessons.
That should be enough to keep you and your household cohort occupied for a few days. We’ll be back soon with more.
Here are some additional resources from Oregon school districts and the state department of education:
Oregon Department of Education: American Indian, Alaska Native and Hawaiian Native Education Resource
Oregon Department of Education: Arts Resource