Houston moms and experts share helpful homeschooling tips

If you’re a parent of a school-aged kid, you probably have a newfound appreciation for teachers. Homeschooling is hard, but luckily the Coffee Talk Moms, Executive Director of Huntington Learning Center Wendy Tilford and West University Moms Founder Amanda Vlastas, are here to help.

HOUSTON – If you’re a parent of a school-aged kid, you probably have a newfound appreciation for teachers. Homeschooling is hard, but luckily the Coffee Talk Moms are here to help. Executive Director of Huntington Learning Center Wendy Tilford and West University Moms Founder Amanda Vlastas have joined forces to create the Coffee Talk Moms, a collaborative platform to help local parents.

“We just felt like the partnership made sense,” said Tilford. “We hear moms ask questions and concerns all the time, and we just want to provide mothers and families with solutions.”

Together, the two moms tackle issues using their own personal expertise. Tilford addresses educational subjects and Vlastas covers the social and emotional aspects families face while homeschooling their children. Though school districts have quickly adjusted to social-distancing limitations by providing remote-learning platforms, the transition has proven difficult for many families.

“With remote learning, it lacks individualized learning. It’s more of a cookie-cutter style approach,” said Tilford. “Every student has different learning styles.”

Houston's Coffee Talk Moms, Executive Director of Huntington Learning Center Wendy Tilford and West University Moms Founder Amanda Vlastas, share helpful homeschooling tips for parents. (KPRC)

Here are their tips to prevent learning loss:

  • Focus on critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Prioritize core subjects like math, writing and reading comprehension.
  • Provide fun learning activities to keep kids busy when you’re unavailable.

A big issue many families are coping with is increased tension in the household. The combination of stress from uncertainty, cabin fever and lack of socialization can take its toll on anyone.

“We’re probably all trying to live up to this standard of how we think we should be doing this,” said Vlastas. “You’ll be successful if you take it slow and do what works for you.”

Here are their tips to reduce tension at home:

  • Create structure for your family’s day and be consistent in maintaining it.
  • Take breaks to prevent overloading. Going outside helps everyone reset.
  • Praise accomplishments of your kids AND yourself.

Vlastas also recommends trying fun supplemental learning activities that the whole family can do together. Watching a documentary, doing “kitchen math” while cooking or playing critical thinking games like chess are great ways to keep the kids engaged.

“My boys and I will go on nature walks and look around and see what we can find,” said Vlastas. “Board games are awesome. There’s a lot of fun you can have.”

Houston's Coffee Talk Moms, Executive Director of Huntington Learning Center Wendy Tilford and West University Moms Founder Amanda Vlastas, share helpful homeschooling tips for parents. (KPRC)

For families with teenagers who are preparing for college, there are many questions about what to do during this critical time for planning. Whether it’s planning for AP exams, signing up for the SAT or ACT or prepping for college enrollment for Fall 2020, some parents and students are unsure what steps to take.

“Parents are freaking out about it," said Tilford. “The information is very fluid. It’s changing on a day-to-day basis.”

What we know about standardized tests and college enrollment:

  • AP Exams are scheduled to be administered online between May 11 - 22. The testing time is now 45 min. Also, the test is now open book and open-end response.
  • SAT and ACT exams dates in April and May have been cancelled, but June dates are still available, though filling fast.
  • Many colleges are making accommodations to alleviate limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but students should still expect to present common college application items like school transcripts, SAT/ACT scores and letters of recommendation just in case.

Most importantly, Tilford and Vlastas hope parents and students will remember to give themselves some grace during this time.

You can connect with the Coffee Talk Moms on their website here.


About the Author:

Olivia Kolanek is the Features Producer of KPRC 2's Houston Life. She joined the KPRC family in the summer of 2019 after working in non-profit communications for three years. She is passionate about creating content that features good people, good food or a good story. Olivia is a University of Houston alumna, Audible junkie and scuba novice.