Right now, in southern Louisiana, some children affected by Hurricane Ida are still waiting to get back into school.
And it looks like they might have a LONG time to go.
“The way it’s looking now,” said one mother, “it looks like it’s going to be next August.”
The issue is more complicated than that, though.
As the Superintendent of New Orleans’ schools says, “The physical damage to schools is minimal…and all should be back by September 22.”
The leaders of other areas are facing a harder road—some have yet to announce an open date.
How concerned am I? If you pick up a thesaurus, whatever’s the word for ‘most concerned,’” said Jarod Martin, superintendent of schools in the hard-hit Lafourche Parish, southwest of New Orleans.
And regardless the condition of schools, many families and staff members are still out of state as they wait for electricity and water to return to their homes—further complicating re-openings.
What do parents do in the meantime? Bus their kids across the state? Wait on the government to get its act together?
Our kids’ education is one of the most overlooked aspects of preparedness. But if you’re a parent or grandparent in a major disaster area it’s going to be at the top of your mind for weeks—maybe even months—as your little ones go without schooling.
To help you fill in that gap, we’re going to walk through tips for homeschooling your kids or grandkids all on your own. Each of these options require little to no power or Internet access.
Look for Options with Limited Internet Access
Google makes offline schoolwork easy with offline versions of Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps.
Imagine you’ve been hit by a major natural disaster and you don’t have access to a reliable Internet connection for weeks or more.
Thanks to technology developed by Google, as long as you can get access to your school’s online curriculum, you can still keep your children busy. That’s because Google gives you offline access to Docs, Sheets, and Slides, all for free.
To get this set up, you’ll first want access to the curriculum.
IF YOUR SCHOOL USES GOOGLE
Since many schools run their digital learning programs through Google, getting learning materials may be as easy as logging in and locating lessons for your student’s classroom.
IF YOUR SCHOOL DOES NOT USE GOOGLE
If the school doesn’t have its learning material pre-loaded into G Suite, it may be possible to manually copy and paste some of your child’s classwork into your own Google Drive. Google allows offline access to not only Docs, Sheets, and Slides, but to PDFs and images, too.
Visit Your District or State’s Homeschool Office
Homeschool office professionals can help you develop your own book-based curriculum. They can also help you find textbooks.
Many districts and states have a “homeschool office.” This is typically the place you go to get official exemption documentation to homeschool your kids. If home schooled before, you’ve probably visited this office once or twice.
However, did you know that many homeschool offices also provide a wide variety of physical textbooks and curriculum assistance? With their resources and expertise, families have been able to offer a traditional education experience with little to no Internet support.
Design Your Own “Offline” Curriculum Based on State Learning Standards
It may not be easy, but you can certainly create your own curriculum based on local learning standards.
Every public school has mandatory learning standards issued by the state and/or district—a list of performance benchmarks that students must reach at each grade level. These standards are available to the public, and you can use them to design your own offline curriculum.
COMMON CORE STANDARDS
The most common learning standards are called the “Common Core Standards.” Love them or hate them, they do lay out in black and white the skills that children need to become college and career ready.
Just to take a random example, one of the Grade 3 ELA Standards requires students to show they can “Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.”
Another Standard requires that students “Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.”
Notice that while these standards set performance benchmarks, they do not tell you how to reach them. The textbooks and worksheets you choose, the teaching methods you use…it’s mostly up to you.
Developing curriculum is a lot of work for parents, but it’s not impossible. If you find your kids out of school for an extended period of time because of a disaster, you are totally at liberty to identify grade-level standards and just teach to them.
Start Building a Physical Library
You can save money building your own textbook library by seeking out donated books for the purposes of education.
Books and worksheets are the lifeblood of offline schooling, and you’ll need lots of them. You can go to Amazon and purchase all the educational material you’ll ever need. You can even find textbooks and worksheets pre-aligned to your state’s learning standards.
However, that exercise can get pretty expensive.
To help you save money, here’s a list of programs and organizations that offer free books for young students:
- Book Donation Initiative – A great place to start is reaching out to book publishers directly. They often donate books to children’s literacy programs. Contact the Association of American Publishers and ask to get on their Book Donation Initiative list.
- Local Libraries and Bookstores – If you reach out to local libraries and bookstores you might find some willing to donate overstock and old books.
- Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library – Only available in participating communities, this program is for small children and runs from birth till their fifth birthday. Every month a select book arrives in the mail, free of charge. These aren’t necessarily educational texts but can help fill your library.
- Hachette Book Group – A prolific and well-known donator of books, Hachette may be a good lead to pursue. They donate large quantities of books to schools but have also been known to give single copies to individuals. Send requests to [email protected].
- Grants – You can apply to receive grants for your own home library from groups like the National Home Library Foundation, Snapdragon Book Foundation, and Believe in Reading.
- Chronicle Books – This publisher regularly donates individual books to schools but will also make donations under “special circumstances” to other groups.
Conservative and Christian Homeschool Options
There are lots of resources for parents and grandparents who want to create a more bible-centric learning experience for their children.
If you’re interested in getting your kids out of the school system and into a curriculum that supports Christian values, there are plenty of options for physical, “off-grid” learning.
Alpha Omega Publications offers complete “subject sets” with entire grade-level curricula that are bible centered. Just as an example, their 6th-grade subject set is currently available on Amazon and includes paperback science, math, language arts, and history & geography textbooks.
This option can get expensive, especially if you’re schooling more than one child. However, as a once-a-year purchase that includes everything you need, it’s hard to do better.
For more information on Christian home schooling, resources like homeschoolchristian.com can offer the support you need.
"Secretary Malone sees outstanding examples of Common Core at UP Academy in Dorchester" by Massachusetts Secretary of Education is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/