|Surviving and thriving during at-home learning|
|Thursday, April 2, 2020|
Like many families during the current global pandemic, Mary Sosman is trying to find a new normal, balancing working from home while supporting at-home learning for her own children. Sosman is an English language learner specialist at Drummond Elementary School, but also has a 6-year-old kindergartner and an 8-year-old second grader at home to support.
“It’s been a lot to juggle and my teacher-student ratio is stellar, but add working on top and it's a lot,” Sosman said. Sosman and families across the U.S. are discovering what works in navigating at-home learning with their own children while still working either at home or in the workplace. She and other staff in Pattonville provided advice on how to be successful at balancing both worlds in this new era of social distancing.
Their advice boils down to three big steps (see graphic below):
1) Create your new normal.
2) Reach out for help.
3) Take care of you.
Sosman said her family is discovering what works best for them.
“It's helped us to have a list or schedule of what to do,” she said. “(We) make sure we make time for breaks, do the areas that are hardest for them first (get them out of the way), give lots of praise and encouragement, give yourself, as the adult, a break too, and remember that we're all doing this imperfectly.”
Bridgeway Elementary School third grade teacher Natasha Malone urged families to not become “overwhelmed with duplicating the classroom and ‘what your teacher would do.’ Instead we want to keep their brains going with continuous learning.”
Pattonville Heights Middle School attendance clerk Mallorey Burns said having a schedule works best for her own children.
“From a parent standpoint, what is working for my kids is having a set amount of activities they have to get done first thing in the morning,” Burns said. “They work really hard to get all their daily assignments their teacher is posting every morning finished, then they take a long play break until lunch. After lunch is the more relaxed items like extra DreamBox lessons, art, P.E., etc., since it’s harder to get back into the swing of it after lunch.”
Pattonville Heights counselor Dawn Osman encourages families not to compare their efforts to others they might see on social media. They should “not feel they are not living up to the 'perfect homeschool' portrayed by some,” she said. “This is new to all and they just need to do the best that they can. Encourage students to try and figure things out and to reach out to their teachers and friends for help.”
Early childhood teacher Sharon Wood agreed. “I sent a message to our parents this morning about knowing there may be bumps in the road and told them even at the center, some days are better than others,” she said. “I think it's important that they know this adjustment will take some time and we don't expect them to be perfect, especially at our age (pre-school). I think if they knew that less time with quality work will go farther than more ‘classroom’ time with both parties being stressed out.”
All staff urged students and families to reach out for help when they have questions or concerns.
“Communicate with your teacher as much as needed,” said Pattonville High School social studies teacher Casey Christensen. “We are in this together and here for you.”
“I quickly discovered yesterday that many kids are putting a crazy amount of pressure on themselves,” said Juli Kobielusz, a Special School District teacher at the high school. “It's important for them to take breaks and understand that teachers are learning right along with them. This is new to all of us and is affecting everyone in the world. Please remind parents to email the teachers. We want to help, but don't know what they need from us right now.”
Christine Young, instructional specialist at Willow Brook Elementary School, added, “Most importantly, have fun and enjoy this special time with your child!”
Resources for families