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Keeping it Basic at Home

I read this article that offers tips to parents and thought – as a veteran educator and once home-schooling parent –  I would also share some thoughts.

KIDS READJUST

First, please do not be fearful that children being out of the formal classroom are going to somehow die on the vine. They will very quickly readjust when they finally get back in the classroom and come back ‘up to speed’ grade wise. 

Take this time to get to know your kids better. Interact with them and do things with them. Find some great games to play. We just found Chameleon and had a great evening of fun and learned a lot. 

TIME IS DIFFERENT AT HOME

Remember that they are not going to spend 6 hours a day working on school work. That six hours in the classroom calculates time for teacher duties, moving the class from one subject to another, lunch, recess, etc. A normal kindergartener will finish the exact same amount of ‘learning’ in one hour of one-on-one instruction with you as they did all day (and in some cases all week) in the classroom.

INSTRUCTION DOESN’T REQUIRE HOURS AT A TIME

 If you work on phonics and word recognition for 10 minutes a day with your child, they will make progress. If they are a little older and are reading, have them read out loud to you for 10 minutes a day. You will be amazed by their progress. The same for math. 

For science, walk around your yard or block and discuss what you see. Take a picture with your phone and have them draw the specimen when you get home. The gift of observing the world around them and

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Pandemic Playbook

Having been in the education/school choice sector for most of my professional career, I often remind myself and those I try to influence that I have been blessed with the resources to choose the educational path that best fits my children. Part of that choice has also been based upon the plethora of great private schools available in the District of Columbia and my Catholic faith.

When schools started to discuss the possibility of closing, I had no concerns about my daughter’s school which is an independent Catholic high school. The students already had tablets on which they work and experience with assignments turned in electronically. Every morning, she signs in and has had lectures, tests, etc. on-line and things are going quite well. 

I had different concerns for my son’s school which is an Archdiocese of Washington school, since knowing the Catholic Church it can take a long time (centuries not days!) for decisions to be made. That said, I was reminded by a colleague that the Catholics could just dust off the pandemic playbook from the Spanish Flu or Middle Ages and go from there. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to find the school and Archdiocese as a whole adapted quite easily. Each morning at 8:30 am my son checks in with his homeroom teacher on line and then proceeds to move through a number of on-line assignments (papers, worksheets, etc.). My wife has also assigned him various art/drawing projects using youtube videos and an art sketch book that we purchased at Target for $5.99. The school also asked that he record at least 30 to 60 mins of physical activity per day. The goal is to simply meet the theory

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Day 5 Remote Ramblings …School closures showing the best and worst in our leaders

This is the headline from the WSJ for March 20, 2020:

At Schools Closed for Coronavirus, Online Work Won’t Count

Because administrators can’t guarantee all students will have access, some schools call online work ‘enrichment,’ not part of curriculum

This is ridiculous. No, it’s worse than ridiculous. This is insanity. I’m actually at a loss for words. My family and children can attest to the rarity of this situation. 

In Chicago, Administrators claimed they must do this to avoid “equity” issues and on Wednesday, days after having signaled online learning would occur, “changed course and said that teachers can grade work as long as it increases academic standing and doesn’t negatively impact a student’s grades.”

Why give anyone a chance to learn when not everyone has access, said the local union leader. 

Put another way – better 100 students fall behind than 99 of them continue to learn but one miss out. 

But are they really worried that every poor household doesn’t have a computer or internet access, or are they worried that online learning will prove to actually work, and demonstrate that the traditional classroom, may not be superior for learning? Could this crisis spark a demand for real time learning, regardless of space and place and make the traditional classroom obsolete? 

The Learn Charter Network in Chicago, which serves predominantly the lowest income students rapidly created home Learning Packets and E-Learning Tools. “  have been in constant communication, by phone and email, with each of their families to answer questions and help with any challenge a child or family may be facing.” Learn is doing everything it can to ensure students keep learning.

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