My Child is in Virtual School—Now, What?

Assistant professor Joo Young Park shares how to make the most of pandemic-era schooling

Joo Young Park, assistant professor of mathematical sciences

For parents who work full time, juggling other responsibilities and home-schooling kids during this pandemic can often be overwhelming and a real challenge. They are flooded with resources, such as educational apps, curricular materials and technologies for home-schooling. However, the pandemic reminds us that creative problem-solving skills and adaptability are required to create value amid daunting challenges in this unpredictable world.

Education is for inspiring minds and fostering learners’ autonomous efforts to discover and create value in life’s reality. Any situation or circumstance presents both challenges and possibilities. The actualization of positive possibilities is the essence of value creation.

From this perspective, I would recommend creating a home environment and developing teamwork with family (parents) through a dialogic process that can build learners’ autonomy, confidence and sense of belonging.

1. Create Consistent Surroundings

Set up the environment with various activities, and let your children choose what they like to do, or guide them with a few choices to select. Also, create the schedule and routine. Young children, especially, are reliant on consistent and predictable experiences; they feel a sense of security from those routines.

2. Support Your Children

Be at the present moment with your children, when you can. Amid this work-home-school life, there will be many frustrating moments, but children’s sense of belonging and ability to succeed in teamwork can be nurtured by the relationship with even one parent who cares for them.

3. Personalize Per Their Interests

Attune to your children’s interests, and immerse their activities or projects in nature or everyday life. Children learn best and become creative when they enjoy their activities. Let them pursue their interests. You could do activities, such as finding a number pattern (e.g., Fibonacci sequence) in the number of flower petals (e.g., lilies, buttercups and some daisies), the number of florets in the spirals on your cauliflower and the way tree branches form and split. Or have them engage in a project based on a timely question, such as, “What is a mathematical model for the survivability of different strains of infectious diseases?” (biology, algebra) The real-world format allows us to teach children different skills without the struggle of direct instruction and have them build competencies valuable for today’s world, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.

Lastly, I would try to find a moment to appreciate the opportunity, since this time will be limited. I would ask myself and other parents to pour love upon our children like the sun nurturing sunflowers because people can live powerfully for the rest of their lives with the energy of the love they receive in their childhood.

Joo Young Park is an assistant professor of mathematical sciences whose research and project interests include teaching and learning mathematical modeling, identifying teachers’ knowledge for mathematical modeling instruction and mathematical modeling task analysis. 

This story was featured in the fall 2020 edition of Florida Tech Magazine. Read the full issue here.

Cover of Florida Tech Magazine's fall ’20 issue featuring Furaha Merritt, an information systems senior and president of the Black Student Union
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