MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Congratulations parents: many of you have survived week one of distance learning. No doubt it’s been a learning curve for students — and especially for parents.

WCCO spoke with a homeschool expert, so you can go into next week more prepared.

“People are overwhelmed, they are freaking out,” Rey Sirakavit of Elk River said.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The former teacher has homeschooled three kids. She also helps run a north Minneapolis-based homeschool group Black Homeschool Scholars with Swag. They are part of the statewide group Harmabee.

Sirakavit says her advice to parents of kids who are newly distance learning: “That’s the big thing I want to stress to parent, you’ve got this, you can handle this. ”

She says it’s important to stay calm and confident.

“It really saddens me because people feel like they are inept and incompetent and they are our own kids, right? So we should feel empowered to be able to educate our children,” Sirakavit said.

She says don’t try to replicate a normal school environment, create a comfortable pace. And she says students need much less “seat time” than in a traditional setting.

“Maybe it’s an hour for a kindergartener, going up to fifth grade maybe it’s 2½-3 hours, get up to high school it’s probably more like 6 hours, but it definitely is not 8 hours, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s really flexible depending on what your kids need and what age your children are.”

She says reading, writing, and math are key and it’s OK to take breaks in between lessons.

“If we are trying to force a schedule, it’s going to make you stressed and them stressed,” Sirakavit said.

She says to remember the best thing about homeschooling is that time is precious!

“I’ve got three kids that I have homeschooled and I would definitely say the relationship is so much stronger because of homeschooling,” she said.

She says she gets time to share devotions and games with her son, without the rush of the daily grind.

Just remember: squeeze in a little time for yourself.

“I’ll go sit in the car and I’ll read and I’ll have a little bit of tea,” she said.

Sirakavit says it’s also important for parents to act not like they have to help with distance learning, but that they want to. It will help lower everyone’s anxiety.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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