FAIRMONT — According to a recent Washington Post survey, more than 80% of U.S. parents of K-12 students favor holding school at least partially online during the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
Given three options for the upcoming school year, which begins in Marion County on Tuesday, 44% of parents want schools to offer a mix of online and in-person classes, or “blended” as described by the local Board of Education.
In addition, 35% of parents prefer an all-virtual form of education. Fully in-class school, the traditional method of public education, comes in a distant COVID-19 era third place with 16% of parents favoring that approach.
With those statistics in mind, the Marion County Public Library System has substantially increased its portfolio of homeschool educational materials to serve parents and guardians who plan to play a hands-on active role in their child’s education.
“We’ve tried to beef up our collection on how to teach your child at home because there’s a lot of people who are going to be involved in teaching their children, even if they’re doing the remote school or virtual school options,” said Larissa Cason, director of the Marion County Public Library, which is located on at 321 Monroe St. in downtown Fairmont.
Cason said she’s already working with adults who will help supervise K-12 student education this coming academic year.
“Parents will be much more involved this year in the actual teaching of their children than they have in the past,” she said. “There are also lots of parents who have decided to completely homeschool their children this year and we’ve expanded our offerings to help them.”
Among the array of materials the library offers are books on different homeschooling theories, Cason said, such as the Montessori method, many different guides to educating at home, and the fresh-off-the-press “Surviving Homeschooling through the Corona Crisis” by Wendy Hamilton.
“We’re also getting materials that are supplements to the curriculum offered by the schools, such as math and STEM books,” Cason said.
As far as at-home education goes, the local library offers much more than books.
“We have many, many electronic resources to support parents. One of them that I particularly like is called ‘Scholastic Teachables,’ which provides written materials like worksheets and lessons for children aged pre-K through eighth grade,” said Cason. “Those materials can be used throughout the year to supplement what a teacher has assigned or on its own.”
Cason said there are more requests for library materials in 2020 than in previous years.
“We’ve seen a lot of requests for materials during this period,” Cason said.
The library also offers itself as a classroom for students and parents who desire a different learning atmosphere than their home.
WiFi is available throughout the facility. Several computers are ready for both parents and students to use. Printing services are available. And designated study areas, where visitors may reserve, are designed to provide a more classroom-like feel.
The library has also increased its program offerings this fall.
“We’re doing virtual programming for children of all ages, such as our regular storytime program for pre-K, as well as toddler time. We’ll be hosting teen book groups. And right now, we’re discussing doing story hour types of events for elementary school students,” Cason said.
As always, all materials are free of charge with a MCPLS card. Library cards may be obtained in-person at the library or by downloading an Apple or Android app.
Susan Davis, of Fairmont, retired several years ago after teaching for 22 years at Grafton High. She serves as a substitute teacher in Marion County schools.
With grandchildren in elementary, middle, and high schools, Davis said she plans to unretire a bit this school year in order to help her grandchildren with their respective educations, providing guidance and support as they navigate through in-person, remote, and blended instruction.
“Knowing a local public library has such a wonderful array of resources that can help guide homeschool instruction is a tremendous asset,” she said. “I feel very fortunate our local library is so dedicated to helping us address the education dilemma we face during this pandemic.”