George Mason University

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Mason provides educational webinars and resources to help families sheltered at home

May 5, 2020   /   by Anna Stolley Persky

Through the educational webinar series CEHD Cares, faculty members from Mason's College of Education and Human Development are sharing professional tips and resources with families sheltered at home. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services.

Recognizing a need for educational and emotional support during the coronavirus pandemic,  George Mason University is offering a webinar series and other resources to assist parents and caregivers sheltered at home with children.

Sponsored by the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), the series will feature faculty discussing a variety of topics, including early childhood education, English as second language, self-care, and science and math education. The program, called CEHD Cares, originated from discussions among Mason faculty, administration and alumni about how overwhelmed they felt trying to work from home and educate and care for their children at the same time.

“We kept hearing, ‘It’s too much,’ ” said teacher education professor Beverly Shaklee, who is helping organize CEHD Cares. “We thought that by providing resources curated by our faculty and by being available through webinars to offer our experiences and answer questions, we might be able to ease the burden a little bit. We are trying to help the community negotiate this complex space.”

Interim Dean Robert E. Baker emphasized that CEHD faculty members know “firsthand right now how challenging it is to juggle work and fulfill the educational needs of their children at home.”

“’I’m so excited that CEHD Cares allows us to tap into one of our greatest resources—the wide-ranging expertise of our talented faculty—to give back to our community in this time of need and uncertainty,” Baker said.

Hosted live, the webinars will be stored on the CEHD Cares page, along with a variety of website links and reading material divided by topic.

Mason has nationally recognized education experts that can help parents work with their children, “while working hand-in-hand with their teachers,” said Shirley Hartman, director of advancement at CEHD.

CEHD Cares plans to have its educators address the difference between parental expectations and the realities of distance education, especially for younger children.

“Parents are struggling to manage their expectations, because the reality is that kids can’t be at their screens for too long,” Hartman said. “We want to talk with parents and caregivers about engaging their children in the learning process and helping keep them focused. Things will not be perfect, but there are tips and techniques that we can share to make it better.”

Marjorie Hall Haley, a CEHD professor who specializes in multicultural education and multilingual learners with diverse educational needs, is planning a webinar on self-care, which she describes as critical for parents and caregivers. The webinar on self-care will be held May 12 at 1 p.m. Registration is here.

“I’ll be talking about the simple things we can do to take care of ourselves,” Haley said.

The first webinar, directed at parents, caregivers and educators, will be Thursday, May 7, at 1 p.m. and will feature Christan G. Coogle, assistant professor of early childhood education, and Mason graduate student Clarissa Wade. Coogle and Wade will discuss supporting the development of young children, including those with special needs, at home. Registration for the first webinar can be found here.

CEHD Cares has already begun posting early childhood resources for parents, including academic activities aimed at young families, an activity guide for infants and toddlers, and a tip sheet for helping children during a pandemic.