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Start a Learning Pod

By CARZ NELSON

The approaching school year will be different from every past school year because of COVID-19. School will most certainly involve lots of distance learning. Distance learning is challenging. It requires levels of self-discipline and focus that are hard for children to maintain. 

Kids can learn better when distance learning is reinforced with some in-person tutoring. Most parents don’t have much time to tutor their children, however. One solution is to start a learning pod, a small cluster of families who pool resources to help their kids with school. Parents and other family members share the tasks of teaching the children. Each adult can take a day or two a week, or perhaps take on a special project or subject. Pod members can decide on the structure that best suits the needs of the group.

To decide who to invite to join your learning pod, think about the people that you and your children spend time with already. Most of us have a social “bubble” which includes the people we interact with on a daily basis, for example neighbors and family members. If you limit your pod to people who are already in your bubble, you won’t expose your children or yourself to any additional risk of COVID-19. 

Parents should have regular meetings to decide the strategy and educational subjects to be covered. Think outside the box when you plan pod sessions. In addition to working on homework, break up the day with a variety of activities. Have a book club, put on a play, and create art. Don’t forget to have a stretch break.  

You will need to decide on a location. In good weather, you might want to hold your sessions outside in the backyard. On rainy days, you could use a member’s porch. Even a garage could work; just keep the garage door open for air circulation. As the weather turns cold, an outdoor heater can extend the season.

Hennepin County Public Library has plenty of resources you can use to help kids learn. Go to hclib.org. Scroll down and select the box Additional Resources Online. Then click on K-12 youth and families for a range of useful tools and information.

COVID-19 has brought unique challenges to parents of school-aged children. You can help your kids’ education on track by collaborating with other parents around you- start a learning pod.

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