GVSU professor offers advice on recent school closures, back to virtual learning


ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Several West Michigan school districts have extended their Thanksgiving break due in part to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

In many of those schools, a large number of students have missed class due to illness or quarantines, putting parents back in a familiar but still difficult position of facilitating learning.

“I thought we were done with this, but it keeps going. The disruption caused by COVID-19 for kids in school is as present as ever right now,” said Trevor Muir, who is a high school teacher, Grand Valley State University professor and father.

His advice for navigating this latest challenge to learning is to keep kids on a schedule.

“We’ve got to set up structures for them and get them into routines even if the work they’re doing isn’t the most fun thing in the world. We’ve got to get those structures in place to really help our students get back to the schedule of learning and working within those time frames,” he said.

Muir recommends their schedule at home mimics their schedule at school.

For children who are more resistant to completing their work at home than they are in the classroom, Muir says the key is motivation.

“As a teacher, I’ve found one of the best ways to inspire my students is to give a purpose to it. If they have writing to do, what if you had them write and made it into letters that you sent to retirement homes,” he explained.

Muir has found that when kids know why they’re doing something and there is a reason behind it, they’re more inclined to engage and put in more effort.

Even the most patient and creative parents will have moments where their children simply don’t feel like doing the work. That’s when Muir said it’s a good idea to give them a break.

“I think what we have to do and I’m saying this as a parent who has had kids at home as well is say we’re going to return to this later because it’s still worth doing. It’s still important but let’s do something else right now,” said Muir.

One of the most important things Muir thinks parents can do is make sure their children are still socializing. He says without those skills it will be even more difficult to teach them things like math and science.

As days at home continue, Muir advises parents to take advantage of the time to get outdoors and be around other kids in person or a virtual setting which is more important than focusing on every page of homework.

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