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'We Didn't Sign Up For This': Educators Share Advice On Teaching Kids At Home During Coronavirus Shutdowns

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Three local educators gave tips to parents now trying to teach their kids at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Steve Polansky teaches honors and AP history at Trinity High School in Washington County. He says the teachers are just as frustrated as the kids.

"We can't stand this. There's not a teacher out there, that I know that cares about their kids, that wants to do this. We didn't sign up for this. We signed up to be in a classroom to make differences and interact," Polansky said.

Parents have now been pressed to play a different role in their student's education.

Bethann Dolan teaches middle school math in the Hampton School District. She says helping with little things can make a big difference in your child's education.

"Teach them how to reach out to their teachers for help. We are constantly letting the kids know, 'Ask us for help.' But they don't always know how to send an email. They're now learning how to email us," Dolan said.

Sometimes, it is best for mom and dad not to discipline a student who may not be doing his or her homework.

Polansky says a quick note or call to the teacher may work better.

He suggests saying something like, "My son and my daughter is not doing what they need to do. Let us try to help out with it. Maybe they need that little push. ... If mom, dad said it is one thing, but when you have a teacher say it – sometimes that may be the motivation they need."

Teachers like Jen Kudrick at Stanwood Elementary in the Hempfield Area School District have been making creative videos to help drive home some math concepts to her third-graders.

"We did some things on my easel and they still weren't getting it," said Kudrick. "I went out on my driveway, with my sidewalk chalk, and drew a racetrack and had my little car. Then I showed them how to count the perimeter going around and then how to do the area inside."

As the weather gets nicer, it is harder for kids to stay focused on reading, writing and arithmetic.

Dolan has a suggestion. "Maybe before you even start school, get outside and play a game of lacrosse, or soccer or hopscotch, anything. Then go inside, get to work on school, and make sure they take breaks," Dolan said.

But not breaks that involve more screen time. Dolan says because of the change in the school routine, children may be spending even more time online and with screens than they were before.

Just because it may feel like summer and there are no buses at school, Polansky says that doesn't mean it is time for vacation just yet.

"We are getting homework assignments turned in at 11 p.m. or 2 in the morning. That is too late for them to be up and thinking clearly," Dolan said.

The biggest message from teachers to parents: don't be afraid to ask for help.

"When they reach out to me and tell me what their struggles are, I can help them," says Kudrick. "Also, it has been really, really heartwarming to hear their kind remarks and them appreciate what we are trying to do."

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