NJ educator and R&B singer creates parent's guide for homeschool success during COVID-19

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Carl Brister and his students (Contributed)
Urban News Staff Reports

New Jersey math teacher and rising R&B singer Carl Brister created a “Parents Guide To Home School Success” to help out students and parents turned homeschool teachers.

Brister's new “Parent’s Guide to Homeschool Success” kicks off with The 10 Class Commandments parents may want to implement at home. He is also filming a series of “Calculate with Carl Math Breaks," to be posted on his YouTube channel that will give parents a crash course in homeschooling and Common Core Math. But before he gets to the actual "Math Breaks", there are a few things to consider in order to set up a successful homeschool environment.

An artist, educator, husband and proud father of two sons, Brister is using his profession as a teacher to help parents who have become home school teachers overnight. In 2019, he founded Music Village, a NJ non-profit organization that uses music to make a difference in the areas of education, child abuse awareness, and diversity.

1.   Create a Schedule/Routine: Get them up and dressed - One of the greatest strategies that teachers use in the beginning of the year is implementing a routine. It sets expectations and will help you manage their day and yours.

2.   Morning Meetings: Many schools and businesses find morning meetings effective. Why not have them at home? These brief meetings can include inspiring quotes, affirmations, prayer, goals, cheers, songs, and the schedule for the day. Your kids can also share what they learned the day before or aspects of the learning that they found challenging. You can also complement academic achievement and praise them for completing schoolwork.

3.   No Cell Phones or Extra Screens During Class Time: In a homeschool situation, accountability will be important. Make sure that your child is situated in a place where you can see that they are actually doing the work and not on their cell phone or on other screens while doing online assignments. If they must be in a separate room, do multiple parent pop-up visits throughout the day so they stay focused.

4.   Make Time For Fun: Since the school day is abbreviated, and there are no after school activities, plan for children to have dedicated times of the day for recreation, music, arts, and hobbies. Also, build in times for socializing with friends via videoconferencing apps like zoom, Google Meets, WhatApp, and more.

5.   Try Before You Cry: Students grow by trying and working through problems. It’s important that they are given the space to try problems before asking for help. Be there for support but be careful not to become a crutch. Otherwise, they may get used to you doing the work for them instead of trying to figure it out for themselves.

6.   "At-School" Stomachs - In most schools, students aren’t allowed to eat during class.  In a homeschool situation, they should know that they will need to bring their “at-school” stomachs to class and won't get to grab chips, cookies, or snacks throughout the day. Designate a time for breakfast, lunch, and scheduled snack time. Special Note: If you can, prepare lunch & snacks in advance. This will help you to be more productive especially if you are also working from home.

7.   Mistakes Are Beautiful - As you take on homeschooling for the first time, you are going to get an up-close and personal experience with the way your child learns. This means that they will make mistakes, wrong answers will be given, and sometimes your child won’t have a clue about what to do. Prepare yourself now to appreciate mistakes and know that they are a beautiful and necessary part of the learning process. The beauty of making mistakes, according to Stanford University Professor Jo Boalar, is that "our brains grow." Also, students learn what “not” to do, and which helps in their discovery of better paths and strategies.

8.   Be Patient: Children need a safe space to learn. If you want your child to achieve, stay away from comments that will cause fear, resentment, or low self-esteem just because they give a wrong answer or don’t understand a concept. Instead, ask questions like “How do you know?” “Can you convince me?” or “Are You Sure?” which will encourage them to think through their responses and challenge them to grow.

9.   L.O.V.E. Like the great Tina Turner, you may be asking “What’s LOVE got to do with it?” In a word, everything!!! Right now, the whole world has been turned upside down by COVID-19. Just like you, your child can be experiencing anxiety, or depression for many reasons including being separated from friends, or the stress of having a parent see their mistakes as they complete assignments more than ever before.  Good teachers learn that students don’t leave their problems at home. They bring them to class. Now that home is the classroom, remember compassion, empathy, understanding, and patience is what children need to win this race. And a lesson delivered with L.O.V.E. can go a long way.

10. Bedtime: Lastly, there should be a set time for students to be in bed in order to get the rest they need to be at their best.

Tune into to Carlbrister.com and Youtube.com/carlbristerofficial for Part 2 – When Common Isn’t So Common: Getting to know The Common Core? The first in the series of "Calculate With Carl" math breaks features a simple song that he created to help student divide fractions.

For more information visit Carl Brister including upcoming tour dates, please visit Carlbrister.com. Follow @Carlbristerofficial.

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