The transition to at-home learning has been really challenging for some students and parents alike. From temper tantrums to a lack of motivation and time, the new normal is putting a lot of stress on families.
Milton Hershey School Elementary Principal Tara Valockzki is also a mother of three kids who are now learning at home. She’s kept her own kids on a strict schedule. They’re up at 8 a.m. on weekdays. They must shower and eat breakfast and then begin their morning schoolwork. After lunch, there is more learning.
Valockzki said the routine has really helped to keep her kids focused. She also’s created individual study spaces for each of her kids, away from each other and away from distractions.
In addition to routine and a quiet space, she says parents shouldn’t be so hard on themselves. She also stresses the importance of social connections, which is why she encourages her kids to have virtual playdates whenever possible.
Danielle Streck, a second grade teacher at North Side Elementary in the Central Dauphin School District, said parents should also be nurturing the connection between the child and teacher. Watch her video below to learn more.
Jill Matson also teaches second grade at North Side and was named Harrisburg Magazine’s Simply the Best local teacher in 2019. She offered the following advice:
“My advice for parents during this time is to change your mindset, and instead of aiming for the A’s on the report card, aim for the C’s instead. Allow the C’s to ‘see’ you and your child through this very different type of school and learning and life as we know it.
- Connect – Encourage your child to connect with his/her teacher and classmates as often as possible. This could be as simple as joining a Zoom class meeting or sending a video message via Seesaw or email.
- Create – Give your child a break from the weekly assigned schoolwork and let their creative juices flow. Draw with chalk and turn it into a geometry lesson, build with Legos and turn it into a math lesson, help them build a secret fort in their bedroom. Do simple science experiments or just put out some playdough, watercolor paints or paper and crayons and see where their imagination takes them.
- Care – Most importantly, be caring and understanding of their feelings and anxieties. Remember that this is a difficult time for us, as adults. Just imagine how strange and scary this seems in the eyes of a child. Now is the time they need your unconditional love and encouragement.”
Teacher Bonni Teplitz Roseman offered these thoughts:
“Help your child read each day! This will help avoid the summer slump! Make a schedule and try to stick to it! If you choose to take a daily walk, try different neighborhoods to avoid boredom. Talk about different street signs and parts of nature! Cut yourself some slack! Make a memory book or wish jar! Take pictures of experiences you are doing together, whether it is walking or cooking together. Make a jar for plans when this is over. Fold paper and write one or two things a week that you want to do when this is over, and put it in a jar. In the summer open it up and do those things!! We are in this together and remember most people don’t teach their own kids for a reason!”
Fourth grade teacher Dara Boden had this advice:
“The most important thing you can do is talk as a family and listen. Emotional health is just as important as ‘book smarts’ through all of this. Connect with kids through reading together and discussing the book. Then try something new where you are working together. For example, cook a new recipe together and put your kid in charge! Pull out the Legos and challenge yourselves to build something crazy. Work together to paint a dresser or fix a cabinet. No teacher is asking parents to be teachers, but we are asking them to be parents. Work together with your kids, listen to how they are feeling, and try your best to enjoy this gift of time together.”
Marissa Zimmerman, a second grade teacher, offered these three tips:
“Encourage your child to try their best! Tell them how proud you are each time they complete an assignment. If they are getting frustrated, stop working for the day and do something fun!”
Meghan Harvey offered this advice:
“As a parent and a teacher using the Zoom platform, be kind and have grace with yourself and others. This is a change and a disruption to all. We don’t yet know the long term effects emotionally or cognitively. So again, be kind.”
Jamie Gaiski had this to say:
“Be there for them in all ways; physically, emotionally, and socially. Show them love.
Engage with the school and class as much as possible.
In your household circumstances do what the teacher is asking when possible. They are the education experts.
Communicate and listen; to your child, the teacher and their peers.”
Finally, Bethany Goodyear offered this advice.
“Teachers know you are doing your best to fill our shoes during this time, give yourself grace. Children are resilient and can be more independent than you think they can
Cherish this time with your child and bond with them. Specifically, to this kindergarten teacher, a child’s hug has gotten me through the roughest of days. We love our students as if they are family.”