Free mentors, resources for parents using online teaching

Posted at 11:35 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 12:01:31-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — If you're a parent who's suddenly been thrown into the world of online teaching and you're feeling overwhelmed, there's a nonprofit that wants to help.

Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families is working around the clock to connect parents with mentors, so they can find the free guidance and tools they need.

April Yap-Hennig, who lives in Denver, says the coalition has helped her navigate the cyberschool environment.

She never expected to be taking on the role of teacher to her 2-year-old daughter Amaya and her 4-year-old son Elias, who's in Pre-K.

Although her son's school provided guidance and suggestions, it's been up to her to test those out. So, like many other parents forced to adapt, she dove into online teaching and homeschooling.

"[I was] nervous," she remembered. "I don't want [Elias] to come out of this and be behind. I want him to come out of this and feel like he's either at par with everyone else or maybe ahead."

And that's when she stumbled upon the Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families on Facebook.

"You don't know what you're doing and then finding those resources is so key and that's kind of where I found this group," she explained.

The organization's director and experienced-cyberschool parent Tillie Elvrum became her mentor.

"If you're struggling, if you're feeling nervous about this whole new virtual school reality, we're really here to help," Elvrum emphasized. "And we wanna make sure that this process is a positive one."

"Parents that are new to the process will really be encouraged and support and know that they're not alone in this," she added.

Elvrum suggested free learning tools and ideas to keep both kids busy and learning.

"All of us are on a budget, and we're all trying to figure out how to deal with this situation without having to drop a ton of money," Yap-Hennig pointed out. "[The coalition] helped give me the structure that I needed."

Her advice to other parents: Don't expect perfection right away, and embrace having fun as you learn alongside your kids.

"Keep that routine going," she said. "As much as possible, even if you don't feel like doing it."
"The key thing here is just not to feel like you're failing. I think the key here is to look at this as a learning-in-the-process kind of job."

In recent weeks, Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families says they've gone from helping a handful of families to helping more than 2,000 families across the state. And Elvrum says they'll continue to help any family that wants to reach out.

You can join the coalition's Facebook group here, and follow them on Twitter here.