EDITORIAL: Learning tools

Homeschooling resources could help during pandemic

A tiny germ first discovered in a city in east-central China has virtually shut down normal life in the Rio Grande Valley and pretty much the rest of the world. Since that isolated outbreak three short months ago, the coronavirus has swept the globe, infecting more than 1 million people and killing more than 50,000. Understanding the virulence of the disease, and how it can spread so fast and so far, requires a certain amount of schooling for most people.

Unfortunately, however, most schools have been shut down, affecting the learning practices of untold millions of people. Fortunately, a resource that many people have fought and derided now could help students everywhere continue their education.

Many educators and politicians have resisted the growing movement that calls for increased school choice and homeschooling.

Despite the resistance, the movement has continued to grow over the past couple of decades, and inspired enterprising educators and entrepreneurs to develop online curricula and other resources to support alternative education methods.

More traditional educators now face the challenges of educating homebound students.

Administrators and teachers have developed programs to help interact with students over the same platforms that have served families that already homeschool their children.

Some online education resources require subscriptions and charge fees, but many are free of charge.

Some are geared directly for student interaction while others are teaching resources that enable parents and others to prepare materials for individual students.

Homeschool support organizations have arisen to help families who wish to educate their children at home, and many already have compiled lists of resources that can help It shouldn’t be difficult to find such resources with age- and gradeappropriate learning materials, such as game-based exercises for younger students and more traditional material for older students that can help prepare them for college preparatory tests and similar exams.

Teachers unaccustomed to providing classes remotely might benefit from reviewing these resources, if only to glean ideas for online exercises that they can offer students to augment their normal coursework. Parents also can seek programs that might help their children, especially if they might have trouble learning at home or benefit from tutoring sessions that most schools usually offer but can’t during the current travel restrictions.

Teachers and school administrators should consider looking at the options that already are available online; they might find that resources they otherwise would create themselves already have been developed, tested and refined for students.

It matters not if public school educators oppose the idea of alternative education methods; extraordinary circumstances such as these require extraordinary measures.

If those measures already have been developed and proven, the educators should put the interests of their students first, and utilize the best resources they can find.