Turning the dining room into a classroom: How to home school your kids during the coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 4:19 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 16:30:29-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— During these uncertain times, some parents are understandably panicking.

They’re faced with the daunting task of parenting and educating while schools have been ordered to close their doors for two weeks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nicole Ellis is temporarily home schooling her kids in Hampton.

“This is Ellis Academy: It’s books, it’s laptops, it’s Chromebooks, it’s all types of spelling books and flashcards. This is where most of the magic happens now.”

Ellis turned her dining room into a classroom on very short notice.

Her students - or children - are 5-year-old Nadia, who is in pre-K and 10-year-old Jayden, who is in fifth grade.

Ellis wakes up at 4 a.m. and starts her teleworking day at 5 a.m., “so I’m working when they are sleeping and then I take a break from working to get them started.”

The children have breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and then at 9 a.m. class is in session.

“[Jayden] does reading and then he goes to social studies,” Ellis said before reading her son’s schedule verbatim. “He has lunch, recess, science, writing and math and then dismissal.”

Wendy Scott is the Director of Tidewater Collegiate Academy. She says parents should re-create a schedule “that makes sense for your family and for your student.”

Related: How to effectively work from home while social distancing

She encourages parents to “use the resources that the students in your house are most excited to be a part of, like streaming something from a zoo; so many museums have put on virtual trips online,” says Scott.

Scott say parents also shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to their school or teachers for help if they need guidance.

Even though it can be hectic, Ellis says she still enjoys the small moments with her kids.

“Our son came to us and he gave me a big hug and he said, 'Mommy, thank you for creating Ellis Academy,' and so that made my heart flutter.”

Educators say when the time comes, they’ll be ready to pick back up wherever parents left off.

“At the end of the day, I think it’s most important for parents to just be loving on the kids when this is all said and done. How well they form their cursive 'A' or linear functions will be something that we can fix very quickly."

Click here for full coronavirus coverage.