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MAKING THE MOST OF CORONAVIRUS HOMESCHOOLING
By Sue Heale, MS Marriage and Family Therapy
Executive Director of KAMP Music, Kirkland, WA
From 2011-2013, I homeschooled my three children while working long hours expanding my rapidly growing business. I made the decision to homeschool for three reasons that included my hands-on parenting approach with constant involvement in my children’s lives, my desire to help my son learn to love learning since he was really struggling in school, and my necessity to be around my children when my job demanded that I start work at exactly the time they were finished with school. Many years later, my oldest daughter has over $50,000/year in scholarships to Seattle Pacific University, my 18 year old son was just accepted into the Engineering program at the UW for fall 2020, and my 14 year old daughter is trying to get her footing on high school skills as an 8th grader at Rose Hill Middle School.
My degrees are in education, psychology and Marriage and Family therapy so having spent over 25 years working in the public and private education sector, I place a high value on both education and family. I believe these aspects of our children’s lives are far more successful when done hand-in-hand. Since founding KAMP Music in 2006, I’ve spread my message of families and learning (in this case music and theater) far and wide as over 3000 students have attended our non-profit music school, many of them alongside their parents, who also have a high rate of involvement in our programs.
Over the past few weeks, we in Kirkland, Washington have been presented with unimaginable circumstances as the “epicenter” of the coronavirus in the United States. Our small city of 80,000 has suddenly made international news and our lives have been thrown into complete chaos hallmarked by uncertainty, fear, and having to adapt to changes coming by the day. Now our children are home with us and many working parents are suddenly thrust into not only doing their jobs from home, but doing so while trying to educate their children. My hope is to give you some ideas, some hope and a lot of encouragment to make some lemonade from these lemons.
Homeschooling is no small feat, especially if you have a special needs child. Some children may rebel against you being “teacher”. The most critical piece of advice I can give is to create a schedule and routine and STICK WITH IT. We all need structure in our lives but none of us more than children. Put frequent breaks in your schedule, especially time to play outside or take a bike ride or nature walk. Another valuable tool is setting up a dedicated workspace at home that is for “school”. It’s vital that this be in an area of your house that you do not use for other activities most of the day, i.e. the busy kitchen table. Convert a bedroom in your home to a school room. Create a school space in your rec room or basement family room. This space needs to be associated only with school and learning activities and provide clear boundaries between when our kids are at “school” and not.
Tap into local resources for homeschooling ideas. Kirkland has a wonderful homeschooling store in Totem Lake called Homeschool Potpourri. I go there often, even now that my kids are not homeschooling anymore. Barnes and Noble, your local library both in person and online are great resources as well but will expose you to a public venue. There are a wide variety of online resources for homeschooling parents, including many great website where you can download activities and games, worksheets and creative crafts. Pinterest has tons of ideas for homeschooling families! Join a Facebook group for this in your area and see what others are sharing.
Other ideas to get through your day and create fun and lasting memories of your family getting through a hard time:
Spend time with your pets and teach your kids to care for them
Read lots of great books— some with your child and have them tackle age appropriate series
Write a play! As a veteran of writing 11 musicals for school and camp groups, I can attest to the wonderful experience of creating characters, learning to format a script, writing plots and scenes.
Watch arts events online. You Tube is full of recordings of live theater and music events.
Get outside! Dust off your bikes mom and dad. Take a hike. Play in the mud. Build a fort. Most of our kids do not know how to play outside as many of us did as children. Plant a spring flower garden. Dig a hole. Find some worms. Explore one of the many small streams in our city.
Learn an instrument. Many music teachers are offering online lessons. Practice your instrument if you already play.
Make a movie! Use that tech time for something that’s educational. Your child could even create their own You Tube channel.
Make cookies or teach your child how to cook.
Make family scrapbooks with all those pics you’ve been collecting on your phone
Cuddle on the couch. Believe me, your children will grow up very fast and you’ll look back wondering where the time went.
About 10% of our students have now shifted to online lessons and they are going very well. Most teachers are now doing these lessons and we will continue to ramp up our online offerings if more schools close and fewer of our community members feel safe attending lessons and events at the school.
We've modified all group activities to have no more than 10 participants at a time starting this week. Please follow closely the calendar modifications of any group activities you are involved in.
Stay safe, everyone!
DEAR KAMP FAMILIES,
At our staff meeting on 3/1, the decision was made to try to function as normal as possible. Although members of our music community may get the illness and probably will or already have, this virus seems to be most dangerous to older folks and those with underlying health issues and a relatively low risk to our community of mostly children/teens and young parents.
Because we want to address this situation with an abundance of caution we are going to provide three learning options for our families:
Families can continue with their normal lessons at their normal time with their current teacher
Families can request online lessons-- we're working to get some teachers who have done this before or feel comfortable with this set up to do lessons either from KAMP or from their home. If you choose this option, it's possible you may have a teacher other than your normal teacher. This is a GOOD THING! We work together very much as a team and having exposure to another teaching style for a period of time while this virus works it's course has many positives. The teachers will be in close consultation with one another to make sure every student has the very best educational opportunity.
Families can choose to do the lessons in their home with no additional cost. Some teachers are set to do this but, again, if you choose this option, you may have a different teacher and/or different time.
We ask that you not just stop your lessons. We are at a wonderful but critical time of growth right now with our new space and we want to continue that trend. We just passed 200 students last week for the first time since early 2016! We had three amazing gatherings this weekend to celebrate our new space and there is so much positive momentum for us as a community right now. If you do decide to cancel, we remind you that our cancellation policy states that you must give us four weeks notice to stop lessons. If you stop, we will offer you four online lessons. We've been growing very rapidly and only 3 teachers currently have openings so if you stop, you may lose your teacher and we don't want to lose you. And, if schools end up closing, your child will NEED activities. During the snow storms, my students love it when I pull up in my jeep! They haven't seen anyone except their parents in days and so they are thrilled to see me and learn some music!
Getting staff ready to handle changes. We're getting Sachie ready to do online lessons first. She has 7 years of experience as a teacher and has taught all ages from 3-70. Sachie can do all methods of piano, including our regular courses and Suzuki method which focuses on ear training. If your child has the chance to see Sachie, you should expose them to Suzuki. I always tell my students that the most important part of their body in being a good musician is THEIR EARS! It will make them a better player!
Josh and Amy have experience doing online lessons as well.
Sanitary measures-- Over the weekend, we began having the teachers clean the piano keyboards with lysol wipes between each student and having our front desk staff constantly roaming around cleaning surfaces. This morning, I am going to the school to mop all of the floors and sanitize the bathroom. We're also having all students wash their hands or use the hand sanitizer before lessons and we suggest you ask them to do so after lessons.
DO NOT BRING YOUR CHILD IF THEY ARE SICK! We are more than happy to make up lessons, even if they happen way in the future. The CDC says this could be there for 1-2 years so this is NOT a short-term problem. We may have a new way of life, much to my chagrin and yours as well, I'm sure.
Group activities-- KAMP has a lot of group activities and events. This past week, the school was FULL all day, all evening! We had 35 at our Gala on Friday night, about 40 at Karaoke night on Saturday night, plus more than 25 at our Prince and the Pauper auditions and rehearsals this weekend. We have kid's choir starting this coming Thursday and Carillon Choir meets on Tuesdays. We have extra rehearsals going on for Rock Bands and our Eight Grands Show. These will continue but stay under careful review. Please follow all suggested protocols for the virus published by the CDC and Health Department. Stay hydrated! Get lots of sleep! Wash your hands!
We love you all and want to stick together as much as we can in our lovely community to get through this but we also want to be safe. If the schools are closed, we will probably move all lessons to online at that point.
Please email me or text me directly if you have questions or concerns.
425 419 9865