Parents spot challenges with home learning, but virtual educators could fix that


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Alabama public schools are closed for the rest of the school year, and while educators figure out a sustainable game plan for the next few weeks, parents are forced to step in and play the role of teacher at home.

With that said — summer reading loss could impact students much earlier than expected.

Here’s an experience worth trying.

Ashlee Chesny is a virtual educator and she offers free online learning tools to parents. She’s been educating kids for the last six years.

“Right now we have Mrs. Ashley’s Learning Emporium on YouTube and every week I post three videos and it’s all about allowing the parent to provide a learning experience at home,” said Chesny.

She engages children with reading activities throughout the world, while more than 700,000 Alabama students remain home for the rest of the school year.

“We all know and heard of summer reading loss,” said Chesny. “Now we’re going to compound that the longer that children are out of school.”

I’m a parent. Not a teacher.

A number of parents like LaToya Smith are worried about failing her children. She’s married with two kids: a 5-year-old boy and a 9-year-old daughter.

“She’s wanting answers and sometimes I don’t have the answers, so that does make me nervous,” said Smith, “especially with education failing in Alabama.”

That’s no secret. The Northwest Evaluation Association, an education research company based in Oregon, said summer learning loss increases with age through elementary and middle school.

“I had to come up with a schedule,” said Smith. “At first I was just flying on a whim,” but Smith noticed that wasn’t working. She can only commit 4 to 5 hours of learning time throughout the day, including recess.

“My little one — he can’t sit that long,” she said. “We have to stay on top of it as much as we can.”

Teachers may have to play catch-up in the fall.

“As they go to the next school year, I worry about other children being so far behind and the teacher having to work double-time to bring those children up to speed,” said Smith. “The children who didn’t have that issue are kind of left behind.”

The Northwest Evaluation Association said low-income students are at an increased risk. So Chesny is using her platform to eliminate the pressure parents may face when educating their students at home.

Fear is not the answer.

“Parents should not feel discouraged when they find challenges in trying to create that environment,” said Chesny. “What I do is help parents find ways to engage children in a learning process. It’s not about the actual activity. It’s about their child having a positive learning experience.”

It is an attempt to create that school-like environment in the comfort of your own home.

Parents can go on YouTube and search for Mrs. Ashlee’s Learning Emporium. It’s a free resource that will help kids learn while they are out of school. For the website, click here.

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