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College of Education Life at Home: Advice for parents from Jeremy Ford

Jeremy Ford homeschools his boys at the kitchen table
Jeremy Ford demonstrates the stress many parents are feeling while trying to teach their kids at home. Photos provided by Jeremy Ford.

Jeremy Ford, assistant professor of early and special education, is juggling teaching college students and doing research from home while supporting his kids with stay-at-home learning.

Parenting can be tough for anyone during these unusual times, luckily Ford has some tips to share to help anyone who has children at home with the added responsibility of creating an environment conducive to learning. According to Ford, there are ways to incorporate learning into kids’ lives without having to pretend you are their teacher, mostly by just being there and offering support.

“Manage the best you can and try not to worry too much,” Ford said. “Kids, even the big ones, will take their cues from us.”

Ford’s tips while helping kids learn at home:

  • Encourage kids to read and offer rewards for completing reading tasks-even screen time is an appropriate reward here. To avoid power struggles, allow your kids to choose what they read (tips for children who are still learning to read and more about literacy can be found in Katherine Wright’s advice for parents).
  • Ask your kids for help. Think of ways to incorporate learning in everyday activities. For example, cooking can be a reading and math lesson using recipes and measurements.
  • Develop a sense of normalcy with time outside and recreational activities, playing games you normally would, or ask kids if they’re up for learning something new with you. Ford suggests cribbage as a good math game.
  • Communicate constructively with kids if you feel overwhelmed or are having a hard time with the “new normal” including taking breaks if needed.
  • Set expectations and model the behavior you expect from them, especially CDC recommendations for social distancing and staying home away from friends.
  • Be there the best you can for your kids, however they may need you. Don’t worry about ‘getting it right’ just focus on what you can do for them.
  • Check in with your kids to see how they are feeling. Remember older kids may need extra attention too.

If you’re a part of the College of Education family and want share your “College of Education Life at Home” with us, send your ideas and videos to Carrie Quinney at