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Teaching Kids at Home During Coronavirus

Pro Tips from Homeschoolers

An unprecedented number of schools are closed for several weeks, a period that could be extended. Tens of millions of the nation’s K-12 students are out of school and parents are being asked to step in to support their learning. That’s a huge challenge. Some students are being asked to continue their schoolwork online. Others are on an indefinitely extended spring break.

So, what to do if you’re a parent who is trying to oversee your children’s schooling, in many cases while you’re being asked to continue your own work remotely? How do you make sure your kids are still learning, carve out time for yourself to work, find your voice as a teacher, AND keep somewhat sane? There are people who do this every day—home schoolers. EdWeek reached out to some of them for pointers.

A lot of their advice comes down to one really important factor: changing mindsets.

How to Schedule Your Day
First, said Monica Utsey, a home-schooling parent in Washington D.C. who also works part-time as a tutor, contrary to a lot of advice she’s seeing online, she recommends ditching the regular schedules.

“Do not create your schedule around a school day,” Utsey said, whose oldest son is a home school graduate and is currently in college. Utsey is still home schooling her youngest son, who is 13. For example, if your kids are up late reading or playing video games, let them sleep in and give yourself that time to work. Then have a leisurely breakfast and start schooling.

“I think parents are worried too much about having a schedule,” she said. “Schedules are important when everyone has to be out of the house at a certain time.”

Utsey said if it’s overwhelming to try to work and keep your children on an educational task at the same time, then give dedicated time to each. For example, home school for an hour and then give yourself an hour to work.

Amy Leonard, a home-schooling parent in Washington state, makes time for her other responsibilities by frontloading the school day—doing the intensive subjects, like math, science, and English in the morning and leaving the afternoon for more self-directed work.

“They have had plenty of attention from me by that point, so they generally give me free time … so I can work on running the household and fulfilling my responsibilities for my volunteer positions,” Leonard said in an email to EdWeek.

Don’t only focus on your children, either, said Leonard.

“I also think it’s vital to take care of yourself as a parent, get good nutrition, rest, and exercise,” she said. “I do yoga in the mornings before the kids wake up and generally go running just before dinnertime. It makes the rest of my day run more smoothly.”

Leonard said the first step is to remember that the parent-child relationship comes first.

“When I have butted heads with my children, and this is inevitable, I have found it important to back up on pushing academics and build the relationship,” she said. “Children are more willing to accept their parents in the role of teacher if they feel secure in that relationship.”

How to Balance the Parent/Teacher Role
Leonard also said that she sees herself more as a facilitator than a teacher.

It’s a title and role that may sound a little less intimidating than teacher.

“I’m there to learn with them and help them answer their questions,” Leonard said.

Teaching is not a role that is as foreign as some parents are thinking it is, either, said Utsey. They should remember that in many ways, they are already teachers. “You are the first teacher and the most important teacher,” she said.

She also recommends trying to relax and see this time—as hectic as it may be—as an opportunity to spend time with your kids and be a bigger part of their education.

Adopting the Homeschooling Mindset
While some students and parents are getting direction and lessons from their schools, others are not. It’s not even clear in many cases how long schools will be shut down.

So, if parents don’t want to park their children in front of a screen all day, and they aren’t getting any guidance from their children’s schools, what can they do?

There are lots of online educational materials available for free, such as Kahn Academy, said Utsey, but there are also many educational opportunities that aren’t strictly lessons. It helps to be creative. Home education doesn’t have to look like regular school.

Utsey and Leonard like watching documentaries and listening to podcasts with their kids.

Leonard recommends starting an online book club, which she’s done with her children and their cousins. Extended family and friends can also pitch in, said Leonard. Her mom teaches her children history and Spanish online. Their grandmother assigns homework and is available to answer questions on the phone.

Think creatively and lean into the moment, suggests Jen Garrison Stuber, another home-schooling mom in Washington state.

“Create art and music together,” she said in an email to Education Week. “Look up hygge [a Danish term that encompasses both the feeling and lifestyle of coziness and contentment] for ideas to make hunkering down in your house more fun. Write letters to distant relatives. … There is so much to life that is learning that we often overlook when we’re in a “schooly” mindset.”

For More information: Visit
Teaching Kids at Home During Coronavirus: Pro Tips from Homeschoolers-By Arianna Prothero

Kansas Care Provider of the Month

“Roy “Justin and Suzanne Sanchez have been foster parents for almost five years. They are team players and make sure that the children’s needs are being met. They have taken one of the children in their home to Children’s Mercy hospital for testing and have been very involved with trying to get a diagnosis and figuring out best treatment for the child. They are very involved with the children placed in their home and advocate for their needs. With the other child in the home, they are doing trauma-informed therapy via zoom weekly. They are always willing to do what is needed for the children in their home! Congrats!

Oklahoma Care Provider of the Month

Alex and Angela Williams have been fostering with TFI for several years. They provide long-term care, as well as provide respite for families when needed. Alex and Angela advocate for the biological families and willing to bridge and do whatever they can to assist the birth families with the reunification process. Most recently, the Williams took the biological mother grocery shopping in order to help her. They provide for the children and ensure the children have everything needed to return home to their parents including clothing, bedding, etc. Angela and Alex want to ensure that the children’s parents will not have to worry about providing the children with immediate essentials in hopes to allow them to focus on providing the family with life’s necessities. TFI is blessed to have such an amazing family on our team!

Oklahoma News

Happy New Year TFI foster parents! We are looking forward to a great year of partnering and supporting you and your children. Our next foster parent support group is scheduled for 6 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 23. Please join us for an hour of helpful information and education and a chance to win great prizes!

TFI has signed contracts with OKDHS and our Therapeutic Foster Care program is underway. We will have our first training session in January for foster parents who will be moving from traditional to therapeutic care. We are excited to partner with OKDHS and look forward to expanding our services to increase the number of children we can serve. If you are interested in more information or know a family who would be good candidates for this program, please have them visit our website and apply to become foster parents at

For specific questions related to Therapeutic Foster Care, please contact Catherine Mure at

Texas News

Happy New Year from TFI Texas. Thank you to all who donated this past holiday season! We received an amazing number of items from some wonderful groups, including Girl Scout Troop #3389 and Calvary Church NFW. You have made children happy. Thank you for your generosity. We would also like to welcome our nine new foster families! TFI has experienced unprecedented growth; showing once again how big-hearted Texans can be. We look forward to providing warm, caring homes for so many additional children in 2021. We wish each of our families a very happy and prosperous New Year and look forward to seeing what this new year has in store for each of you!

Training Corner

Communication with Children

When you work on developing good communication with your child, it helps your child to develop skills for communicating with you and other people. It also builds your relationship, because it sends the message that you value your child’s thoughts and feelings.

Read the article below, fill out the quiz and send to your worker for credit.

Recruitment Spotlight

The TFI Family Recruitment Department would like to wish all of our TFI Foster Families a Happy New Year. I’m sure all of us are glad to see 2020 in the rear view mirror and jump into 2021.

The Recruitment Department would like to challenge all our families to recruit at least one new family this new year. That would result in more than 600 new foster homes for our TFI children. Don’t forget that each new family you refer who becomes licensed will receive a $500 referral incentive.

Join the many Facebook community groups and the Foster Care Groups in your state and refer TFI for those who are looking. Have them call us at 833-7FOSTER or visit us at for more information. Don’t forget to tell them that you referred them so you are eligible for all the great incentives.

Take care and have a great 2021!

– Recruitment Team

Fund Development

Happy New Year! As we head into the new year, the Fund Development team is still amazed by the generosity of our employees and donors this past holiday season.

We received incredible support from Kansas to Texas, as employee givers and private businesses donated gifts and put on toy drives for the children we serve. How inspiring!

But I wanted to spotlight a few groups who partnered to give to our residential programs in Kansas. The fine folks at Advisors Excel donated televisions and food for all of our residential apartments where older children moving towards independent living reside; Sole Reasons provided free sneakers to all of our residential children; and the Scotty D Foundation went Christmas shopping for our residential children! To top it off, the folks over at CoreFirst Bank and Trust donated hundreds of dollars for gifts for them as well.

Many people spent the holidays distanced from their families this season and experienced a bit of what our children in care experience most every holiday season. We are incredibly grateful for the efforts by donors and foster parents to spread holiday cheer this year!

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any contacts, questions, or fun stories of generosity at 918.728.3378 or at Thanks for all you do!

Events & Volunteer Coordinator: Libby Hayden | 785-294-6606 |
Oklahoma/Texas: Steven Mandeville | 918-728-3378 | 
Kansas/Nebraska: Sheila Kearney | 785-213-6161 |

Have you heard? We have an app for YOU! You can find the portal online at You can also find it in the Apple App Store and on Google Play! We hope you take the time to download it today. If you have any questions about the app, please contact your foster care worker!

Thank you for opening up your hearts and homes to children in need. TFI is so grateful for your compassion and dedication to children and families. We hope you take the time to download the app today!

Happy Anniversary

Thank you for opening your hearts and homes to children in need.

14 Years
John & Pamela Davis

12 Years
Lydia Horner

11 Years
Tracy Marion-Sharp

5 Years
Brian & Ashley Wagnon
Kenneth & Rozalynn Frey
Richard & Cathleen Shald

1 Year 
Clayton & Tyler Kauer
Steven Palmer and Portia Edgar-Laymon
Mark & Nora Janice
Christina Pack
James & Faye Mulholland
Victoria Blome
Hailey Adams
Bradley & Jessica Craig
Hanna & Kathryn Burl
Jason & Jessica Rains
Mitch & Kim Nolte
Matthew & Marlena West
Jimmy Mullen
Deborah Doering
Donald Warren & Tara Malone 
James & Latoya Hartless
Brian & Jami Hurst
Curtis & Mary Butterfield
John & Aubrey Kelsey
Bradley & Caitlin Baumann

Every time you make a purchase on Amazon, TFI Family Services can earn money and participating does NOT increase the price you pay for your purchases. Visit or click the picture above and select TFI Family Services to support youth in foster care.  Every time you make a purchase at Dillons, TFI Family Services can earn money. Please visit or click the picture above and select TFI Family Services as your nonprofit to support youth in foster care.