Elementary Education at Home A Guide to Surviving the Coronavirus Pandemic with Elementary School Children

This is a stressful time for everyone. COVID-19 has led to the unprecedented closing of most schools worldwide. This has employed many parents in the job of being educators for the first time. This is new, overwhelming, and sometimes scary for many people, so we wanted to share some tips and tricks to make adjusting to this new normal just a little bit easier.

These tips, links, and resources have been gathered based on suggestions from current and former educators, and links are included to additional information sources.

This page is divided into multiple sections designed to help you - the parent - to adapt to remote learning with your child, and hopefully make the process fun along the way.

Here is a quick reference to each section:

Getting Started

Getting Started

The most important thing to remember throughout this entire process is that this experience is new for almost everyone, so it is okay if there are some bumps in the transition. You are not expected to be perfect. Some days will not go as planned. Don't get discouraged or feel overwhelmed, just try your best!

Managing Stress

Managing Stress

Everyone is feeling stressed. Remember that you are not alone, and there are techniques and resources to help you!

Both you and your child(ren) are under a lot of stress during this situation. You are aware of the situation and danger presented by the novel coronavirus, and may have personal impacts from COVID-19, but your child has not been untouched. Their entire routine has been thrown apart, plans have been canceled, and their life has completely changed as well. Make sure to keep this in mind.

Also, remember that you don't have to handle this situation alone! Your child(ren)'s teachers can serve as great resources. They have been teaching your children for months, and can help to provide ideas and techniques they found successful, while also providing customized material based on content your child or children had been covering when schools closed.

Just a few tips:

  • Remember that this time will pass, and everything will be okay.
  • Use this time to connect with your children, as they are also going through a traumatic experience.
  • Do not get overwhelmed. Sometimes you won’t get to everything, and that is okay!
  • Try your best not to overly stress - your child(ren) looks to you for cues, so if you are on edge and stressed, your child will be too.

If you or your child are feeling stressed, here are a few resources and ideas to help:

  • Try meditating! Headspace is an app that offers free and paid resources for relieving stress during this unusual time.
  • Get outside! Just because all of the stores are closed doesn't mean you can't get any fresh air.* Exercise helps to relieve stress, so go for a walk or play outside.
  • Draw, paint, and spend time having fun! This will relax your mental state and make it easier to work later.
  • Ask for help - if you are stressed about school, talk to a teacher or counselor. If stressed on home life, talk to your family!
  • Need additional tips on managing stress? The American Heart Association offers some general guidelines for any situation. Go to this link to learn more.

*Follow local guidelines regarding access to public places.

For your child, educational company BrainPOP offers this video on Mindfulness and stress specifically designed for students in grades K-3, completely free! There are techniques for practicing mindfulness and more: https://bit.ly/BPJrMindfulness

Home Life

Home Life

Creating a productive home environment is important to remote learning.

Many people are now working from home and need their own space to focus and perform their best work. Students are no exception!

In order to help make learning time more productive, here are a few tips about the learning environment:

  • Find a comfortable place for your child to work. A dining room, desk, or office could work well for this.
  • If your child will be attending virtual classes, make sure they are in an environment where there is reliable internet or cellular access and it is okay for them to speak aloud.
  • Keep distractions in that space to a minimum, with TVs, toys, and unnecessary electronics out of sight.
  • Have any necessary supplies handy. This means your child does not have to stop working to ask you where something is or to go find the item themselves.
The Day-to-Day

Daily Routines

Although every situation is different, it can be helpful to create a schedule to better structure your child's days.

Every situation is different. Some people have jobs that take up part of their days, and some schools are providing more live virtual events for students, so these suggestions may not work perfectly for your family, but the general concepts should help.

A common question you may be wondering is how long your child should spend on school work each day. This really depends on a number of factors, from their school, their age and grade, and their personality and motivation for learning. Some schools will assign more work than others, and different grades provide different guidelines for what is expected. Additionally, some students have longer attention spans than others, particularly when it comes to their interests, and can stay focused for extended periods of time. This must be taken into account.

Some school districts, such as Wake County, are suggesting one to two hours per day, but this is again based on your situation.

  • Even if you are typically a "go-with-the-flow" type of person, these times call for some more planning. It is helpful to "schedule" a few hours each day to engage with your child in learning. Make sure to stick to this schedule so everyone knows what to expect.
  • Sometimes an activity you try will not go successfully. If it is not working, stop for the day and try something different the next day.
  • Some days will not go as planned - don't get discouraged!
  • Make sure to make time for the arts! Play or make music, paint, and do crafts together.
  • If you are doing an activity with your child, stop while they are still having fun. That way, they will want to do it again.
Effective Teaching and Learning

Techniques for Effective Teaching and Learning

To keep your child or children engaged, don't stick to the same method of teaching a subject every day, and don't push too much.

In order to keep your child(ren) excited about learning, there are some tips you need to know:

  • Don't push too hard - it is more important to keep your children engaged as students.
  • Change how you teach/facilitate learning materials to keep things fresh.
  • They will stay more engaged if they are not always practicing math, reading, science, spelling, and other subjects the same way every day.
  • Integrate creativity and let your child(ren) help design an activity to do together.

Sample Activities

These are a few sample activities you might like to try, covering a few core subjects. Note that not all of these apply to every grade, and can be modified in any way:


  • Have your child write their spelling or vocabulary words using bubble letters.
  • Create a homemade word search by hand or by using a free online tool such as PuzzleMaker, then have your child find their vocabulary terms in the word search.
  • Use shaving cream to allow your child to write out their words as you say them. (Heads up - this is a bit messy 😁)


  • Have your child roll dice and add or multiply the numbers.
  • Spread shaving cream on a table or tray and practice multiplication, addition, and subtraction, along with other math facts, using their fingers.


  • Read books together, then discuss the main ideas.
  • "Buddy read" every other page of a book with your child.
  • If you have multiple children and one is older, have them read a favorite book to the younger one, or record each child reading their favorite book to a stuffed animal.
  • Listen with your child to audiobooks from your local eLibrary or Audible Stories, then ask them questions about the story.

Social Studies:

  • Work with your child to find current events in newspapers, online databases, Time for Kids, KidsPost, or another kids news outlet (See a list here). Once your child finds an article, discuss the topic with them.
  • Have your child select a city or country where they would like to visit, then research historical destinations or events in that area.


  • Work with your child to make your own lava lamp using a clear plastic container, water, vegetable oil, food coloring, and fizzing tablets.
  • Baking can also be used to demonstrate science concepts, along with reinforce math concepts such as measurement.

Computer Science and Engineering:

  • Design activities to promote thinking. For example, provided a set number of marshmallows, gumdrops, and toothpicks, try to build the tallest freestanding tower.
  • Take apart an old device to see what is inside.
  • Build something using only everyday objects you can find around your home.
Using Technology

Technology Use

Technology is a great learning tool, but that technology needs to be used effectively, and face-to-face time is also important!

There are numerous websites, apps, and services available digitally to engage your child. Technology is also used for people to communicate with their teachers and friends, learn material, and collaborate with others. We live in a society dependent on technology, and trying to keep your child(ren) away is not realistic. Instead, it is important to make sure that they are using technology productively during learning hours. If your child wants to talk to a group or needs to attend virtual classes, you can assist them in connecting through platforms such as Skype or FaceTime. You can also help setup programs they can use from time to time.

Still, it is important to remember that and face-to-face learning and positive interaction they can have with you is beneficial, so make sure to have some lessons where you are interacting face-to-face.

Educational Technology Resources

Additional Educational Technology Resources

There are many helpful digital resources for learning. Here are a few!

You and your child will likely be familiar with some digital education and learning tools, such as Seesaw, Canvas, Blackboard, Google Classroom, Edmodo, and others that are used for communicating with your child's teacher(s). These tools are even more important now, as they are ways to exchange ideas, assignments, and questions.

These are a few other resources that might be helpful:

  • BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. - Provide short videos, quizzes, and lesson plans about a variety of topics in an entertaining way, free either through your child's school or by creating a parent account.
  • Discovery Education - Has a wide variety of content, from video documentaries to articles, all able to be filtered by grade level. Requires student account.
  • TumbleBooks - Online Books for young readers. Requires school subscription.
  • SAS Curriculum Pathways - Contains online resources for most core subjects along with some additional ones, and offers content for all grades, from Kindergarten to 12th Grade. Free for all.
  • Kahoot! - If you have multiple children around the same age, services such as Kahoot! can be used to create fun trivia games to cover the day's learning. There are many pre-made quizzes, or you can create your own for free.
  • Khan Academy - Offers countless online videos, printable activities, and lesson plans covering most subjects, with content tailored specifically by subject and grade level, all for free. A Khan Academy Kids mobile app is available for early grades and the Khan Academy website and app provides content for all ages. Additionally, during this time, Khan Academy has daily and weekly schedules and tutorials for parents to help their children get started with remote learning.

Many school districts and counties provide lesson plans, activities, and resources covering the core learning objectives required for your area. If your school does not offer this and you cannot access any content, take a look at other areas for content ideas. For example, here is Wake County's Remote Learning page.

For Students

If your child is stuggling to adjust to remote learning, this BrainPOP video, produced for the COVID-19 pandemic, is effective to explaining distance learning and shares similar tips as this Adobe Spark page, but targeted towards students directly.

Remember that this will get better!

Former teacher Barbara Catalfu contributed suggestions used in this article in a recent interview. Feedback was also provided from other educators and learners.

All images utilized are CC0 or licensed using the Pixabay License - No Attribution Required.

Created By
Ryan Catalfu