Library a useful tool in enhancing at-home learning experience

Library a useful tool in enhancing at-home learning experience

Families who have opted to follow the at-home learning option may find implementing daily school activities like gym, art and music into their busy schedules challenging. The Holmes County Library is one place where families can gain valuable insight on ways to fill in the gaps of learning at home.


When many people think about a library, they envision going in, perusing shelves of books and signing out something to read for a few weeks.

Libraries have come a long way since those days, providing many valuable functions that go far beyond the mere effort to check out reading material. Learning programs, genealogy, computer usage and more have allowed families to utilize the library in many ways.

As COVID-19 moved into people’s lives this year, many families have opted to go the route of online learning, choosing to keep their children in the safety of their own homes to further their education. In addition, many families were already home-schooling before the onset of the coronavirus.

While online learning and home-schooling are viable alternatives being offered by school districts, the Holmes County District Public Library has recognized when children aren’t at school, they are missing out on some of the physical activities and social aspects that keep young people engaged, healthy and happy.

With that in mind, the county library is seeking to provide ways for young people to get out and get active in hopes the advice provided will encourage young people to not just sit at home while learning online.

“We just want families to know that we care about the welfare of their children and we are here for them if they want some guidance in how to best create opportunities to remain active,” said Michelle Skolmutch, head of children’s services at the HCDPL.

Skolmutch said the three areas of education that are absent from the lives of many of the students learning at home include music, physical education and art. She said they have had a number of parents request ideas on how they could bring those things into their home or at least go to where those activities are available.

“We are providing some fun activity kits for kids, but we are also going to incorporate into that something that includes physical education, music and art,” Skolmutch said.

Skolmutch said the library is providing literacy packets for younger children because they can’t currently have story time at the library. The packets are designed for younger children about kindergarten age.

“We are providing them with skills that will help encourage them to become readers,” Skolmutch said. “If we can’t connect with people in person, we want to be available to families by phone, email or through our website.”

In providing ways to keep kids active, the library has DVDs of yoga instructions, Billy Blanks’ exercise videos for kids, Troll dance party DVDs and other platforms to entice activity.

“I think it is important to at some point step back, get active, and that helps take some of the pressure off of studies so they can refocus,” Skolmutch said.

While the students learning at home may be experiencing something new in the way of learning, it also is a new experience for parents who are leading them through their online studies, and the pressure can boil over and become a burden when not handled correctly. That is where the library hopes to help provide guidance in forming a balanced daily routine that benefits everyone involved.

“We understand it is a unique time and that every parent wants their child or children to get a great education,” Skolmutch said. “We believe we can help provide that.”

The Holmes County District Public Library also is fortunate to have two staff members who are veteran home-school mothers including Linda Figueroa and Beverly McClure. Both home-schooled their children, so their insight into how to best keep kids actively learning at home can be a huge advantage for parents seeking the best options for extracurricular activities for their children.

“They are both very knowledgeable, and they still understand the basics and what it is like to try to get a child active while learning in the home setting,” Skolmutch said. “They do a fabulous job in providing great ideas for families hoping to initiate activities beyond the learning portion of studying at home.”

In addition to materials families can utilize, the library also is a good place to ask questions about what things are happening locally that can include physical activity.

Skolmutch said the area on Glen Drive beside the library is ideal with a skate park, basketball hoops, a disc golf course, ample area to walk, jump rope and play being available. She also said the Holmes County Park District is another great place to seek advice, where kids can get involved with activities to strengthen body, mind and soul.

Skolmutch said fishing, roller skating, bug collecting, birdwatching and other activities will get kids outside and active while providing learning opportunities.

The Holmes Center for the Arts provides opportunities to learn dance, singing and more while the library provides plenty of how-to books on art and music projects.

If a family would like to learn more about how they can take advantage of the library’s many different offerings, they may do so by calling the main library at 330-674-5972 or the east branch at 330-893-3464. They also may visit the library website at, where there is a kids’ home-school resource link. On the link there are several options including getting started, how to home-school, the Ohio Department of Education and more.

Additional ways to enhance physical education in the home will be available as the library posts them on the website.

“We will have both free activities and activities that may cost a little to attend, but we want to create as wide a range as possible for families,” Skolmutch said.

With home learning being so new for families, the Holmes County District Public Library can be a useful tool in enhancing a child’s at-home learning experience.

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