Learning at Home

Learning at Home
Posted on 04/08/2020
From Amber Crane, Eugene Field Principal

Our school buildings have been empty for almost three weeks, but I’m sure it feels much longer than that to both educators, students, and their families. You may be feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or struggling with what your new “normal” should look like during this time where we must remain in our homes and be separated from our friends and family. I want to provide you with some information that may help your family during this unprecedented time to be connected and maintain some normalcy.

Many teachers at Eugene Field, Hawthorne, and McMillan Early Learning Center implement Conscious Discipline strategies to build strong classroom communities. Conscious Discipline is based on connection; connection is knowing that we each matter and that we are each part of a bigger picture. Becky Bailey, the founder of Conscious Discipline, has shared five ways for families to stay connected while they navigate their new day-to-day “normal.”* 

First, create a schedule that works for your family. Right now, things are unpredictable and children will look for a pattern. Your daily schedule doesn’t have to be a timed schedule, but a simple order of events that will occur each day. Include activities that you will do together, but also activities that children can do on their own so the adults get a break.

Second, in that daily schedule, create a home learning time. For elementary-aged children, that can be a time where you focus on play and other experiences that occur naturally throughout the day. Let your children learn by doing everyday activities together such as cooking, building, and experimenting together, and playing games. Some families may set aside a specific time for learning. Just remember, during this time of uncertainty and high anxiety, learning at home should not look the same as learning at school for young children. Your child’s teacher can provide quick, simple, and fun ideas for practicing and reviewing material students have already learned. Most importantly, read! Parents read to children, children read to parents, read together as a family.

Third, provide opportunities that allow your children to be successful. This can be learning activities or other activities that they are good at. As I previously stated, we are living in a climate that is full of uncertainty. Feelings of stress and fear do not allow a child’s brain to learn in the same way as when a child feels confident, competent, and safe. When children are participating in activities in which they can be successful and enjoy, their brains are better equipped to learn.

Fourth, work on changing your point of view. Our current circumstances can become overwhelming, and it may become difficult to remain positive. As parents, we start focusing on what our children are doing wrong, rather than letting them know what we would like them to do. For example, instead of saying to your child, “Stop interrupting me;” try saying, “Be quiet while I finish explaining.” We have to change our mindset from focusing on what is wrong and instead focus on a positive action that we would like to see.

Fifth, and probably the most important, just take time to be. Focus on making connections with your children the top priority. Like adults, children are under stress too. When school resumes, your children’s teachers will make sure that young children are taught what they’ve missed during this time away. This will be easier to do if children come back to school feeling they were safe and connected while at home.

As we continue to navigate through these new life changes, we must all remember to be patient and give ourselves and others grace. These are challenging circumstances and everyone is doing the best they can.  Just focus on being present for your children and having fun. Connectedness is the key!

*Ruffo, Julie. “5 Tips for Successful Home Learning.” Consciousdiscipline.com, March 25, 2020.