Dear Parents: What You Can Do For Your Child’s Education During The Coronavirus Shutdown

dear parents coronavirus shutdown

Dear Parents,


You might not have realized it yet, but you have an incredible opportunity here.


I’m sure you are feeling a little overwhelmed right now. I know because, as a teacher, I feel it every year. It’s a daunting task.


Remember jumping on the trampoline as a kid with all of the other bigger kids in the neighborhood? You fall and you can’t get back up and you’re just bouncing and flailing around endlessly at their mercy? Yeah…that’s what it feels like to be a teacher all year long.


The good news is that you have one student (well maybe a few) to worry about instead of 30.


Teachers are bound by a curriculum we HAVE to teach (whether we agree with it or not).


You can show them the value and importance of being a life-long learner during this time at home.



Authentic Learning Experiences You Can Engage in At Home


Do you know how long it takes to do ANYTHING in an elementary classroom? (Laughing my ass off right now.) Yes, they are missing out on instructional time, but they are resilient. They will rebound from this. We all will, and I think we will be better for it. We are being forced to slow down and reflect and evaluate. I think it’s a good thing.


The curriculum is important, but IT IS NOT EVERYTHING.


I have written about this before, but one of the single most INFLUENTIAL & IMPACTFUL moments of my life was my mom taking the time to sit and read with me. We read The Secret Garden (my first chapter book). I believe I was in kindergarten. So much of who I am today goes back to this moment in my life. It completely sparked my imagination. It gave me a love of reading and a determination to decode the words on the pages for myself. I desperately wanted to unlock the magic myself, and I didn’t have to wait for her to read to me.


You have been given a great gift. These three weeks can and will change the trajectory of your child’s life…

…if you grab hold of the opportunity.


So much of teaching in the classroom has turned into TELLING instead of SHOWING, and telling is just not as effective. It’s not teachers’ fault. We know what is best for kids, but our hands are tied with curriculum, pacing, state and national laws, state testing, lack of time and resources, mandates…etc.


You get to show them what REAL learning actually looks like. It’s a curiosity about what is going on in the world around us and trying to figure that out and explain it. Let that be your guiding principle during this time.


Read to them and read with them! (This is probably the single most important thing you can do.) Do a family book club. Have them do a virtual book club with friends. If I had more time to prep for this shutdown and more resources, I would have set the book clubs up with my class before we left.

Books to read (that the whole family will love): The City of Ember, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Holes, Artemis Fowl, Sammy Keyes, Flipped…There are so many good books out there; I can’t possibly think of them all right now.


Read about the “Spanish Flu” pandemic of 1918. Show them a real-life example of WHY learning about history is so important. Show them what their teachers always meant by “History is doomed to repeat itself.”


Research the current pandemic. It’ll give them a good geography lesson, and they won’t even know it. Have them look at maps of the world and maps of their own country. I guarantee you that most kids don’t even know the names and general locations of the 50 states.


Teach them how to read a recipe and how to cook! (We talk about this in math all of the time, but I don’t get to actually DO that with my students.) You want them to understand fractions? Start here.


Have them sit with you and do taxes (just for a little while lol).


Show them how to balance a checkbook.


Personal Finance/Stock Market – learn about it together. You’d be surprised by what your kids can do. We did a unit on economics in fourth grade. Yesterday, the last day of school before the shutdown, my student came in. Keep in mind, she’s 9. She said, “Everything Ms. Matt taught us is coming true!!!!!”


At first, I was like holy shit…what the heck did I teach them?!?! What is she talking about?!?! But then I realized she was talking about scarcity and supply and demand and opportunity cost. I had told them that if/when the coronavirus came to the US, people were going to go crazy and buy up all of the things…like TP, food, etc. I even showed them a graph of supply and demand, and they got it. The kids made that connection between the econ unit we did and the real-life events we saw playing out around us all on their own, and I am so proud. That’s real teaching right there.


Build something together. Fix something. Show them how to use tools. Change the oil in your car. They can do projects with you around the house.


Talk to them about your childhood. They don’t know that kids used to ride in the back seat without seat belts or that people didn’t lock their doors in the 70s.


Play games (with them). Teach them how to play chess. (Not video games.)


Give them journal prompts. The things your kids write about and share in class are sometimes profound and sometimes hilarious and sometimes deeply saddening. You will get an interesting insight into the mind of your student. That’s for damn sure. You might discover some things you didn’t know.


One of my favorite things that a student wrote recently was that when she’s 30 she will adopt kids and won’t have a man in her life “because men just yell at you when the bill comes…at least that’s what my dad does to my mom.” From the mouths of babes…


Watch the History Channel. Turn on America: The Story of Us.


Talk to them about Vietnam, Chernobyl, 9/11, WWI, WWII. They are dying to know. Seriously.


They don’t know who Princess Diana was. They don’t know what an iPod shuffle is/was (well “my kids” do now because we talked about it in class). They don’t know about encyclopedias. They don’t know about dial up internet.


When I was in middle school, I wanted to start a school newspaper. What I ended up doing instead was writing a family newsletter called The Family Free Press. (Nerd alert…I know.) I spent so much time on it. I wrote it and mailed it out to family every month, and I did this for over a year. I learned about researching and writing and using a computer more that way than I did in school because it was something I was determined to do. Nobody was forcing me. I wanted to write a newsletter, and I learned what I needed to do in order to produce it.


Learn keyboarding. Learn how to code. (I would really love to learn coding.)


Have your kids make a PowerPoint. I guarantee you, they probably have no clue. We don’t have time to spend playing around on computers anymore at school.


Have them build with Legos and other toys.


Do some fun science experiments with the resources you have at home. When I was in elementary school, I did an experiment with my mom where we chose different foods and put them on a brown paper bag. The bag absorbs the oils in the food so you can see how much oil is in the different foods. Obviously that impacted me too because I still remember it.


Take a walk outside.


Color. Draw.


We did Limericks this week in school as a little side project. There is no time for poetry anymore in school either. The kids LOVED it. They had so much fun.


Bust out those old puzzles.


Start a passion project.


Do some yoga.


Have your kids take time to explore the things that interest them. Photography, video editing, photo editing, graphic design…whatever. The opportunities for learning online are boundless and they don’t have to come from a school curriculum. (Check out Udemy.)



YOU get to tell them about and show them all of the cool things that we don’t get to do in schools anymore, and honestly, I’m jealous.


Our curriculum is far from perfect. Our school systems are on the brink of collapse. Talk to any teacher, from any school, in any part of the country…we’re all at our breaking points. We CANNOT keep going on like this. Nobody wants to say what is really going on in our public schools for fear of being publicly crucified and ruined, but it’s not good…


Our kids don’t understand the connections between the subjects anymore. We have taken the fun out of everything. They don’t understand why a person would want to learn because we’re no longer creating authentic learning experiences for them to engage in. They aren’t making the connection between what we’re doing in school and the real world.


This is your chance.


This is our chance.


I can’t help but think about the impact that this coronavirus will have on our country and the world…and about all of the implications for working, and school, and just life in general. It’s going to be so interesting to see how this all plays out.


It’s time for a change. It’s time to rethink the way we do things. I’m all for it.


Let’s get this conversation started.



A Few Online Resources

These are great resources to supplement the materials that were sent home from school. Check them out and use them, but don’t let this be everything.

Khan Academy


Mystery Science




In Conclusion,

Yes, I sent a bunch of stuff home. Will parents and kids work through it? I don’t know.


I hope they’ll go through it, but what I hope EVEN MORE is that they’ll do the things with their kids that I talked about above.


Read for enjoyment. Read things that interest you. If you do that instead of read the Journey’s story and answer the text questions, I’ll be just as happy. Actually, I’ll be even happier. Read a book together as a family and talk about it.


I hope that families come together and enjoy this extra time. I hope that parents will understand a little bit more what it’s like to be a teacher as well.


Let’s all have a little more empathy for each other.


I am getting a lot of email and texts from parents, and understandably so. What I really want to say right now is that, it’s up to YOU. It’s in YOUR hands now. I sent everything I can send. I have done everything I can do. What happens with your child’s education now is up to you.



It’s always been up to you.





(Of course, I’m here if you need me though.)


Take care of yourselves and your families during this time, and for the love of Pete…STAY HOME.



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dear parents coronavirus shutdown education



  1. Anonymous
    March 14, 2020 / 3:32 pm

    Hope all your kids parents read this and follow. Impressive amount of ideas for them.

    • Alyssa
      March 14, 2020 / 4:18 pm

      Thank you! Me too!

  2. Dave
    March 14, 2020 / 5:08 pm


    • Alyssa
      March 14, 2020 / 5:38 pm

      Thank you Dave! 🙂

    • Alyssa
      March 23, 2020 / 6:04 pm

      Thank you!

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