First, and most importantly, I hope this letter finds you and your families well. I could not be more proud of our extensive Education Academy family at this time. This includes our parents and students and our staff as well as all our service providers who have prepared over the years and continue to prepare to provide your children, our students, with an optimum learning experience in case of an emergency situation as the one we as a society are facing now.
We are here to support you and your child as we always have been and we appreciate the additional responsibilities that have been put forward. You know what? You all are doing it. Parents, Aunts, Uncles, grandparents, neighbors are all working together to support The Education Academy and their students. I am happy to say that not a day goes by that a teacher is not commenting on how well her students are doing, or a therapist is not amazed at the efforts put forward. Thank you for being there for the children, the students we are always so proud of are adapting to their new reality as the adults in their lives are. The videos, the photos, the emails, and the text messages have all been so positive that I am overjoyed over the learning, the fun, and the staff and student connections and parent connections that are evident and have been able to continue as before and flourish. I thank you all for your support and your hard work. Let us continue to work together to assure the children do not miss a beat and return to school ready to continue with the tremendous progress they made while working from home with their dedicated teachers and school staff with the love and support of their family.
As you know, The Education Academy emphasizes not only the importance of academic growth for our students but also for their social and emotional well-being. This can be a very anxious time for young children. Helping children cope with anxiety requires providing accurate prevention information and facts without causing undue alarm. It is very important to remember that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. If parents and guardians seem overly worried, children’s anxiety may rise. Parents should reassure children that Health and School Officials are working hard to ensure that people throughout the country stay healthy. However, children also need factual, age-appropriate information about the potential seriousness of disease risk and concrete instruction about how to avoid infections and spread of disease. Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about the fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection can help reduce anxiety.
Finally, many of you may not know this but back in the day, I headed the first virtual school in New Jersey. That experience provided me with the knowledge of what works and what does not. Staff over the years have taught me a few things about virtual learning also. I want to share with you eight tips to help your child successfully continue their education in an online environment.
- Make a plan. Talk with your children about what the new normal will be and have everyone agree on expectations. “No recess will not extend from 10 o’clock until noon. Yes, you get to choose what we have for lunch”.
- Stick to their daily routine. Getting up, having breakfast, getting materials ready-these all continue, even though students are at home.
- Build the right space. We’ve learned that it is the rare student who can work efficiently from their bed. A proper workspace is something such as a kitchen table, a comfy chair or a computer desk. Keep in mind that some students do well by rotating among various spaces for various subjects.
- Incentives can be a good thing. Provide a small incentive to keep your child going. “You need to finish your math lesson before you can watch TV. Put a list on the refrigerator and have your child check items off as they go.
- Take breaks. This applies to you as well as your children! Call it recess, call it staying sane, but everybody needs breathers throughout the day. Have them go outside when it is safe and appropriate.
- Set boundaries. You may be working from home yourself. You will need your own schedule and breaks, of course. You will also need to make sure you have dedicated work time, by yourself, without interruptions. Your plan with your students should include their understanding when you cannot be disturbed.
- Plan some online fun. Now I know the teachers have all provided fun ideas and activities but you can be the good guy/girl also. Many museums are opening their collections for virtual visits. Check them out together.
- Stay involved. It can be all too easy to set a plan, make sure the internet is working and walk away. You will want to do some periodic checks. Are they getting their assignments done? Is the space working out? Etc.
Again, I am so proud of all my parents and guardians and their children. While we all know that this present crisis has brought us into uncharted territory, our children need to know that we do have a plan for helping them continue to learn. Your confidence and forethought can make a significant difference in how well your children adapt and keep learning. I for one, am confident that we all will continue to move forward together as one big family. Stay well my family.
Linda A. Phillips
The Education Academy