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We are in October 2020. No pun intended, but we are doing virtually everything. Depending on where you live we have been through 6-8 weeks of online schooling.
The school experience this year looks very different for teachers, students and parents.
Parents, rather than going through the usual back-to-school supplies list, were busy setting up technology applications that are prescribed by the schools. Teachers, instead of setting up their classrooms were uploading online learning materials and preparing a list of virtual resources that will help students successfully undertake either online schooling or hybrid learning.
The demands for this academic year is unlike any other – masks, hand sanitizers, high-speed internet connection, and a lot of kindness.
As schools began to prepare for an unprecedented new school year, at PopSmartKids, we know the most important thing in the midst of everything is the growth and education of our children. Parents and teachers, as you face the many challenges that this pandemic has brought, we know you want to see the children flourish. As you navigate this unique academic year, we salute your effort. We have been listening to what teachers and students have been saying. Everyone is feeling the pressure. At the same time, everyone is feeling hopeful.
We have put together a few ways for you to ace virtual learning this year.
Classrooms right now definitely feel very different, but the best way to still keep the magic going through online schooling is to continue on collaborative projects. We love leaning into technology for solutions that will allow students to work together. Platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams help teachers to engage with their students in real-time. Similarly applications like seesaw can help parents be a part of the student learning without being physically next to them all the time. Learning augmentation platforms like PopSmartWrite can make writing fun for students with its fun and interactive design. The app is built for the budding writer who has amazing ideas but feels challenged to put them on the paper. PopSmartWrite creates a virtual classroom and empowers the educator to interact individually with each student and provide focussed feedback and motivation. We strongly believe that this app will be a useful resource for you and your learners as it allows you to collaborate with them – regardless of how the learning is conducted.
Social Emotional Learning
We know that social emotional learning will be a huge part of this year’s educational curriculum. Just like the adults, kids are feeling the pressure of online interaction. They are unable to see their friends in person and play with them, like they usually do. Kids thrive on collaboration and so this year has thrown a curve ball in their growth trajectory while they are still developing their social skills.
Find hands-on experiences, even if they are for a few minutes a day, like, painting along with your children can offer a great way to connect with your child and deal with their emotions together. Encourage children if they are a little older and ready to write, to journal and put their feelings down on a paper. Buy them a fancy diary with a lock, giving them the ownership of their own thoughts. Did you know that PopSmartWrite can offer that personal space to early-writers in the digital medium where they can express how they feel.
Screentime can sometimes help in nurturing social emotional learning. Checkout this list of apps that help with building emotional intelligence in early learners.
The most important thing to remember and tell your children is that all the big emotions are valid.
Focus on progress not perfection
This year, more than ever, we need to double down on growth mindset. As my son’s teacher suggested to me, the best way to explain growth mindset to a kiddo is, ‘I don’t know it yet.’ The idea to drive home with your children is that ‘not knowing’ does not equate to ‘not learning’. It might be prudent to even point out that learning will take more time this year and that is okay.
Parents are facing a huge burden of having to help their children manage classwork during online schooling while continuing to manage their own work schedules and chores at home. It’s easier said than done, but if your children are learning one tiny little thing during the entire week, that should be enough, rather should be an accomplishment. Remember for a second that learning is a process – your children have years to come while they continue to explore, the few months or even a year now would be a blip in the timeline.
To keep it interesting, get your children to shoulder some of the house-work that involves forethought. Make meal-planning a strategic game of math and puzzles. Get them to organize dinner a few times a week, they get to chose the menu and prepare, as long as they can create everything without using the stove. Learning doesn’t need to fit inside a box.
Dedicated space for school-times
By dedicated space I mean both literal and metaphorical.
First of all, having dedicated schedules during the day helps me as a parent to plan my day – time when I can schedule my work calls and time when I can focus on spending time with my boys. It helps my husband and I play tag with watching the kids and working. Second, believe it or not, the routine adds a bit of normalcy to our days and by our I mean the kids too. They have gotten into the habit of waking up and getting out of their PJs to get ready for school. Alright, I am grossly oversimplifying, it’s easier said than done but it does give me and the kids an idea of what to expect. Believe me, we can all use some predictability right about now. As part of their class celebrations, the kiddos might be having some special days like ‘bring a stuffed animal to class’, more like ‘hold a stuffed animal while in class’. Don’ts top there, you can always have fun with the idea and reward them by making it a pajama day or crazy hair day.
Now let’s talk a bit about the assigned physical space for school-times. We have built designated portions of a room, for online classes. These designated spaces are more like corners of a room that are marked by their individual desks, unceremoniously simple desks, white boards and memo boards from Ikea. The kids added their own nick-nacks and made it special.
Don’t underestimate the power of conversation
While you maneuver these difficult days, remember the car conversations? We all love car conversations – ‘Hey, how was school?’ ‘How was your day?’ ‘What did you learn?’ ‘Did you share your project you worked on yesterday?’
Even though your children might be a few feet away from you while they are in their classes, make it a point to ask them about how their school went. Children are tiny humans and just like adults have a similar emotional set-up. Sometimes they don’t want you to solve a problem rather they want you to listen to them. So allow for that dialogue to happen and make space for it.
Better yet, make the conversation a two-way street. We may have grown up knowing that parents have all the answers or have figured it all out but now as parents, we know very well that it’s far from the truth. Share honestly with your children, in age-appropriate words, your frustration of conducting all meetings virtually. ‘I have been there’ and ‘I know how you feel because I am going through the same thing’, are truly powerful ways to connect.
We know you are moving mountains and we see you. YOU are doing an amazing job. We hope you have an excellent year and wish you the very best.