As we plan remote learning, how do we support families to help their students learn at home?
We continue our exploration of the questions the trauma-sensitive school leaders use to guide their COVID-19 response and share how they are addressing their most urgent priorities in trauma-sensitive and culturally responsive ways. The school leaders spoke to the critical role that parents and care givers are playing in this time of remote learning. Educators are now working closely with parents and caregivers in new ways, often supporting them as collaborating co-teachers. They shared the wonderful examples of how elementary school educators are inviting families to join the learning. One school leader shared with us the question that is guiding her early childhood program as they support students with and without disabilities in learning at home:
How can we support our parents/caregivers to be their children’s teachers?
Their answer was to create videos for caregivers, demonstrating how service providers and specialists, such as adaptive physical education teachers, speech and language therapists, and occupational therapists, work with individual students so that families can use the same strategies and approaches at home. Videos created by other schools show teachers doing small activities that can also be done at home, and teachers or administrators reading a story to students or sharing the classroom pet. One elementary school invites families to be part of morning meetings and closing circles in their child’s classroom. Bi-lingual paraprofessionals are present to translate for parents. One elementary school developed daily student schedules and adapted them collaboratively with parents to include the child’s activities at home, like time to get out of bed, brush teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed, etc.
While parents of older students may play less of a minute-to-minute hands-on role with them, the educators at the middle/ high school we spoke with shared that the families’ role as partners with teachers continues to be critical. The school is providing meetings three times a day for parents/students to be able to connect with staff, so they can choose the time that works best for them to address questions as they arise. At this school, feedback from parents that they and their students were feeling overwhelmed and confused about the various free online learning resources led to the school providing a streamlined list of approved online resources that were better aligned with the school’s curriculum.
We heard from educators at elementary schools as well that parents were describing feeling “bombarded” when information and messages from multiple teachers arrived at the same time, especially when there is more than one student in the family. As a result, schools are trying to coordinate how information is shared to avoid overwhelming parents, and some schools have organized systems to share manageable doses of information in response to this feedback from parents. For example, one school has organized the timing of communications from teachers to occur at the time of day their class would have been in session.
Please comment below and share your successes and challenges in supporting families to help their students learn at home.
To read more about how trauma-sensitive school leaders are addressing are addressing their urgencies related to remote learning, please click here.