March 2020

Leadership Blog - March

Parent Support for Distance Learning

By Kyle C. Arlington - Superintendent of Schools
  Lauren Bound - Supervisor of Curriculum & Instruction

The other day, one of our colleagues shared that she’s supporting her own three, school-aged children with distance learning during this period of school closures.  She mentioned that one of her daughters is getting up early to complete her assignments (her middle schooler chose Phys. Ed. first.  She found her in the basement in the early morning hours vigorously doing sit-ups,) while another daughter seems to be taking the opportunity to sleep late and catch-up on some extra zzzs. And, of course, as you probably guessed, her third child’s attitude towards distance learning falls somewhere in between.

We imagine this anecdote is one you might be able to relate to.  With this in mind, we wanted to share some guidance on how to motivate your children over the next couple of weeks and also provide some ideas to support you.  

  • Use Distance Learning to Work on Executive Functioning Skills:  Important mental skills that include paying attention, staying organized, starting tasks and keeping track of what you’re doing are often referred to as executive functioning skills.  Consider using this distance learning period not only to support students in learning content, but in helping their executive functioning, organization and study skills too.
  •  Consider Reframing “Did You Do Your Work?” Questions:  Rather than hovering over kids with questions like “Did you do your work?” particularly with those who don’t need hovering, or even those who do but you’re looking to build their independence, consider asking questions like:  “What’s one thing you learned from your reading?”  You’ll be more likely to assess if they completed the reading and also create an entryway for conversation.  

  • Create a Daily Schedule:  Students of all ages thrive on structure.  Consider setting a schedule.  Be sure to schedule in brain breaks and leisure activities that motivate your child.  Seeing the incentive written onto the schedule may serve as good motivation to keep engaged.  

  • Limit Students’ Exposure To the News:  Particularly for young students, if you’re looking for a way to describe what’s going with kids, check out this cartoon.

  • Give Specific Feedback and Praise:  Kids of all ages respond to positive praise and feedback.  Teachers know that kids are more likely to use feedback to grow when it’s targeted.  “You did a great job” isn’t as powerful to kids as pointing out something specific.  “I noticed you double checking your answer.  That’s an effective strategy.”  Always start with a positive.

  • Access Online Reading Materials:  Consider engaging in a buddy-read, particularly with older children.  If you don’t have two copies of the same text, find two different texts and facilitate conversation across the texts.  One of our bibliofile colleagues just introduced us to Hoopla Digital, a service that allows you to instantly borrow ebooks and-audiobooks, comics, movies, music and more, 24/7 with your Kenilworth library card.  Borrowed items automatically return on their due dates.  You can control your Hoopla account through the Amazon Alexa digital assistant.

  • Use This Time to Start Talking About Careers:  Research suggests that students as young as third grade are capable of thinking thoughtfully about career exploration.   Here’s a cache of websites that can help support the conversation.  Here’s the twist:  don’t ask kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up.”  Ask them, “What problems do you want to solve?”  Then, match the problem they want to solve to your career exploration.”
  • Increase Your Worldliness:  Consider visiting some virtual museums.   

  • The Smithsonian offers many online activities to keep children engaged in the arts and sciences.
  • This article provides links to 12 world-class museums you can visit virtually.

Please consider some of these suggestions so that we may stay educationally close even if we are socially distant.  

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