More Anxious about the At-Home Learning Work Than the Coronavirus?
Five Tips to Help Parents
Yikes! My child came home with work to be completed during the two weeks school is closed due to the Coronavirus. How do I get him to do it? How do I start? How much time should she spend on this? What if it is not correct? What if my child doesn’t “get it” or understand the assignment or lesson? How can I be most helpful? What is my role?
Here are 5 things to HELP YOU and YOUR CHILD:
- Give them a Voice and Choice: The more your child has a voice and a choice, the more successful and engaged they will be. Instead of YOU determining what, where, when, how, and how much, have a family meeting with your child and ask your child to do this.
- What will you need to be successful at doing and completing your work?
(Is it better to be in a loud and busy or quiet place? Do you work best with or without your siblings running around you? Will you need crayons or pencils? What about scissors?)
- Where do you think would be a good place for you to have those things you just said you needed?
(Do you want a table or other work surface? Do you want to be at the kitchen table, in your bedroom, in mom’s home office, at dad’s desk, etc.)
- When would be a good time for you to do your work?
When do you do your Math/reading/writing/theme study/art, etc. at school?
Do you want to do it all in the morning time and be done by lunch time or would you like to do some in the morning and some after lunch? Would you like to do your work in your pjs or would you like to get dressed first? Do you want to do your work when your brother is taking a nap? Do you want to do some while I am at work and some when I am home?
- How much time do you think this assignment will take? How long do you want to write your responses to the questions? How much time do you think is reasonable for completing this math? Would you like to work in 15 minute time blocks and then take a break or would you like to work for 20 (or 30) minutes and then take a break? Would you like to have a timer or use the timer on the computer, on my phone or in the kitchen to help you know when 20 minutes is over? Would it be helpful for me to remind you when you have 5 more minutes or shall Alexa? Is this assignment a one day or two day project?
- What things do you like to do to take a break?
(Do you want to do “brain breaks” like you do at school? Do you want to stop and have a healthy snack? Do you want to play outside? Do you want to go swing on the swingset?)
- How will you complete this work? Do you just need to quickly get it done or do you want to do your best work? Does your writing need to be in final form or are you working on your rough draft?
- How can I be most helpful or supportive without doing your work?
Would you like me to review the instructions with you so you are comfortable and know what to do? Would you like for me to do my own work at the table too? Would you like for me to play with your sister so she does not bother you? Would it be helpful if I just got out all the materials that you need and put them on the table before I leave for work? Would you like to tell me what you are going to do before you start? Do you want me to review your work after you do or is your teacher going to do this?
- When you have completed your work, where would be a good place to put it so it does not get lost? Where would be a safe place to keep your Chromebook/journal/sketchpad, etc. when you are done with your work for the day?
- If you are not understanding something, what could you do?
Would you like to email your teachers to ask them your questions?
Would you like for me to try to help you or your dad?
Would you like to use your math resource book?
Would you like to google it?
Would you like to call a friend from school and ask them?
- What would you like to do after your work is done?
- What do you think we should do if you don’t want to do your work?
Do you want to email or call your teachers to tell them you are not going to do your work?
Do you want to email them or shall I?
Do you want to set the timer for 5 more minutes? (one time) and then do your work?
Do you want to have a piece of fruit and some crackers and then decide?
You can even chart their responses and hang them up, “My Choices For School Work” or they can write them and create the chart. You can take a picture of their choices and send it to the teachers. After you or your child create the chart, review the choices together or have them read them to you (For your K/1 student, they can write words or draw pictures by the words they dictated to you):
“Wow! It sounds like you have everything you need to be successful! You decided to do your work in 20 minute blocks of time. You decided to play for 15 minutes to take a break and then return to your work. You decided to do your work at the kitchen table. You decided to do your work after breakfast and 15 minutes building with Legos. You decided you wanted to do your best work. You decided to keep all of your completed work in your homework folder or backpack. You decided to ask your questions and call a teacher if you don’t understand something. You decided that I would email your teachers if you chose not to do your work. You decided to play a computer game for 20 minutes after your work is done each day. I can see you made some great choices for yourself, and you will have everything you need to complete this work. Since you decided to do your work after building with Legos, you are ready to go build! Have fun and I will remind you when you have 5 more minutes. I am going to do some of my work while you are building with your Legos for 15 minutes.”
- Be an Encourager and Supporter: Those are your roles! This is your child’s work, your child’s brain, your child’s relationship with his teacher, and your child’s learning. Please be sure that this is a pleasant experience! You do not want these two weeks to turn into power struggles and arguments. As hard as it is, please refrain from being the criticizer, the “you messed that up”, the “here, do it just like this” or “draw the cat in the tree” and other directives. If your child makes mistakes, you might gently suggest, “Would you please check that letter again?” Or “Would you reread that part?” Or say nothing and just email the teacher and ask what they want you to do or ask for their guidance. Chances are, they will take on the mistakes or they are assigning a first draft and not final form. Encourage your children by empowering your children and commenting on their effort, their work ethic, their decision-making, etc. “Wow, you worked hard to write that paragraph and got your great thoughts on the paper.” “I can see that you accomplished your work because you stuck with it!” “How do you feel about your work?” and “I agree with you...it is cool because you used your imagination.” “Thank you for being so responsible to get your work done. You followed your plan so well. I think your teachers will appreciate that too.” “Wow, I did not know you knew that! You are learning so many new things.” “Congratulations! You followed your plan and now you are ready to play that computer game!”
- Keep the routine. Just as your child goes through the same routines each day at school, this at home learning will work best if your child follows a routine. They do better with consistency and knowing what to expect. It actually provides security because they know what to do, how to follow the routine and can predict what to do next. You might email the teachers and get their usual schedule and then follow it as best you can. They may push back and whine a bit at first, but they are just testing to see where the limits are and if you are really going to be consistent. Statements such as, “I know you want to watch TV, and you will do that as soon as you follow the plan you made.” “It sounds like you are a bit tired and want to just lay on the couch this morning. You can take a nap when your work is done if you want.” (I am guessing they will miraculously be wide awake). “When your first 20 minute work session is done, would you like an orange cut up or a whole apple for a snack?” “When you have finished with your reading, do you want to take a hike or go for a walk in the neighborhood with the dog?” “Would you like to get started in your pajamas or get on your shorts and t-shirt?” “Shall we set the timer on the computer or ask Alexa to remind us in 15 minutes?”
- Keep the Coronavirus news to a minimum. You need to be informed, and they need to feel safe. Listening to the news and TV might be informative to you, but it is usually anxiety provoking or more confusing for your child. Having the TV or radio going all the time is not helpful and can be harmful. For your older child (above 7), you might summarize the news briefly (after Governor Beshear’s update) and spend time talking about what YOU CAN DO to be safe, how they are home to help reduce the spread of the virus, how children are not really getting that sick from the virus, and how you are doing everything you can to keep them safe and healthy. Remember that the Coronavirus pandemic is affecting you and your child’s emotional state. You are to be the calm in their chaos.
- Remember to play, laugh, be active, and have fun! Running, playing, hiking, climbing, jumping rope, swinging, stomping on the deck, and digging in the dirt will make the times of school work even better! Your child will do best during this time if you are careful to provide time to play outside and inside. Make and play with playdough or slime; do fun workouts; plant seeds; play pretend; put on a show; play hide and seek; play board games and card games; tell jokes; tickle; rough house; create; make music; and take and make the time to play. They learn through their play, build social and emotional skills, and develop physically. Playing outdoors has a plethora of benefits. https://www.parentingscience.com/benefits-of-outdoor-play.html
Parents, you got this! Afterall, you are your child’s most important teachers! You are not alone in this. We will do this together; we will get through this together, and we will learn together! Remember that your child’s classroom and specialist teachers will be in touch with you and your child. They are available to you. They really do care about your child and you, and they are there to support your child and you.
So am I,
Head of School
- Wash your hands with soap really well as often as possible for 20 seconds.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue (not your hands) and throw away the issue or cough into your elbow.
- Use your own dishes instead of sharing.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces, doorknobs, furniture, toys, etc.
- Stay away from large groups or crowds.
- Practice social distancing by keeping 6 feet away from others.
- Stay home and away from others if you are sick.
- There are now 8 cases of COVID-19 in KY (including one in Jefferson Co) and 11 in Indiana, and none in our school.
- We contract with Vanguard Cleaners who clean our school every night. They are following all the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and are also using their recommended product for disinfecting and cleaning. The following link provides more information: FROM VANGUARD CLEANING.
- While we are normally a green and healthy school and in compliance with the standards for “green” products, during this Coronavirus pandemic, we are using bleach and bleach-based products in each classroom and in the school. Each classroom also has Clorox wipes for teachers to use when wiping tables, countertops, doorknobs, etc. We will continue the use of bleach based products until further notice.
- Out of caution, we are also planning for the possibility of remote learning scenarios. Elementary teachers (K-5) have been busy preparing online lessons/learning to send to students and/or parents in the event that school is closed. Lisa Howie, our Preschool Director, will provide a list of ways to do play-based learning at home for our preschool students. They will not have specific online assignments.
- We will continue to use healthy practices each day we are at school and hope you are doing that at home too. (much hand washing, trying to keep hands off of face, mouth and nose, covering cough with tissue (and throwing it away) or coughing in elbow, and making sure that students who are sick or have fever are not at school. Here is the link sent last week with these practices: COVID-19 School Update 1
- We will NOT participate in the remaining March field trips or events coming to our school (Chorus, KY Science Center, McClanahan Irish Dancers). Our Fine Arts Showcase that was scheduled for March 20th will be postponed to a later date. Decisions about April events, including Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Days will be made after we have more information and updates. We will continue to have the Developing Capable Young People Parent Education Classes with childcare unless otherwise notified.
- We ask that every family who is traveling over Spring Break to please let us know the dates and places of your travel. Please contact your child’s teachers or Sarah in the school office with this information. This is a precaution we want to take to determine if there is any increased risk or a quarantine period. Thank you so much for following this request.
- For K/1 students, teachers will send home a packet of materials, activities and assignments with each student. They will also directly email parents to provide additional information, activities and assignments.
- Each Intermediate student and Primary student already has a Chrome Book for learning. A folder, “At Home Learning Folder” has already been added to each Chromebook, and if school closes, teachers will add Day 1, Day 2, etc. of assignments, information, activities, and learning opportunities and resources to the folder.
- Lee Receveur, our Technology Specialist, has been working with teachers and students, providing training, submitting links, and creating folders. The Primary and Intermediate teachers and Mrs. Receveur will check to make sure that each student is familiar with how to navigate the folder and the documents.
- Elementary teachers (K-5) will include a daily checklist of activities and time for students and parents to initial or insert a checkmark to help them keep track of what they have worked on and what they still need to do. We hope this will be helpful with accountability and for parents to have a more structured plan they can easily follow.
- Chromebooks and chargers will go home with Primary and Intermediate students on Friday (although we have no plans to close school on Monday. We are doing this as a “just in case” situation.) We will use bins to transport Chromebooks down to carpool and hand the Chromebook to parents as friends get into their car. Chromebooks cannot go in backpacks because so much damage happens there.
- Stopping transmission (spread) of the virus through everyday practices is the best way to keep people healthy. These are the hand-washing, covering your mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze, disinfecting surfaces and objects, and staying home when you are sick or have a fever. This poster from CDC on Stop the Spread of Germs provides guidelines:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/stop-the-spread-of-germs.pdf
- To keep students healthy and free from ALL viruses, students should stay home until they are symptom free, without any fever, and no medication to treat fever for a full 24 hours.
- From the WHO: The Current Situation Report
- Faculty will have plans in place to continue the learning.
- You will get communication about this prior to implementation.
- We will continue to work closely with the local health department, the Commonwealth of KY, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) officials to follow their recommendations.
- From the National Association of School Psychologists, “Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource”: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/talking-to-children-about-covid-19-(coronavirus)-a-parent-resource
- From the NY Times:, “How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus” https://parenting.nytimes.com/childrens-health/coronavirus-kids-talk
- From NBC News:,“How to Talk to Your Kids About the Coronavirus (and Ease their Fears)”: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/how-talk-your-kids-about-coronavirus-ease-their-fears-ncna1129851
- This is a short video from Brainpop for elementary students (and their families) to watch: https://www.brainpop.com/health/diseasesinjuriesandconditions/coronavirus/
- This is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website where you will find “Information You Should Know”, “Situation Updates” and “Information for Specific Audiences” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- This is a CDC situation summary of the coronavirus: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html
- This link is from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website for information and regular updates: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
- This transcript is from the Director of the WHO’s media briefing on March 4, 2020. https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-mission-briefing-on-covid-19---4-march-2020