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Tips from PCSD Principals to Help Park City Parents with At-Home Learning

McPolin Elementary Principal Bob Edmiston

Mr. Ed, as he is known at school, shared these tips he wrote especially for parents:

You are in charge

There is a beauty of being home and being able to adapt to each kid’s learning style, pacing and approach. School at home is different, which is an opportunity.  YES!  Learning at home can absolutely look and act different.

Study on an iPad on your bed? Sure! Not start school until after lunch? OK. Take a mental health day to go hike and get fresh air and then get back to a more regular schedule the next day? Absolutely.

None of us, teachers included, have done this before, and we are all just making it up as we go. We can get through it if we adjust our expectations and give ourselves space to be imperfect.

Have a daily schedule

It can be a struggle to find a schedule that works.  If we are being honest, we all are feeling confused and frustrated that we still seem to have to wake up early, stay up late or use a Saturday to get work done because the day hours are focused on our kids. We are all feeling this way.

This sort of change and impact on our daily routines is exhausting.  Managing a job and homeschooling is overwhelming for most of us fortunate enough to be able to work from home.  Bottom-line is learning new skills for managing a flexible schedule. 

Try working a few hours early in the morning, about 5 a.m., and then spending a good chunk of the midmorning and midafternoon with the kids.  And YES – you will probably have need to then do your work for a while in the later afternoon or evening.  I didn’t say it was easy.  Flipping back and forth between work, home school, meals and play is confusing for the kids and frustrating for the adults, but it’s what we have.

Moving forward following spring break, I am confident through experience that sticking with a regular schedule will be the key to your success.

Keep calm

Advice from many parents reminds us this is the time to focus on creating calm during chaos and focus on individual relationships. Stressed-out parents can’t teach stressed-out children.

Make note of the activities you and your family need each day to decrease stress. Can you incorporate simple yoga stretches, or play peaceful music? Are you taking regular mental breaks? Most parents I talked to mentioned they have mandatory outdoor recess, even in the rain.

Parley’s Park Principal Daren Houck also has some good advice for parents-as-teachers:

Create your child's "classroom." A predictable, designated space, whenever and wherever possible, will help your child find success. Decorate it with your child's artwork, photos of classmates, and even "school"-like paraphernalia (depending on your child's age, the alphabet, number lines, the periodic table, etc.).

Create your child's schedule. Students thrive when a predictable, consistent schedule is followed. Create a schedule that best works for your child and your family. Stick to it as much as possible. Include homeroom/circle time where you talk about the day, concerns that your child might have, and provide encouragement - your child's social/emotional wellness is vitally important if they are to be engaged academically. Remember to include short, regular brain breaks that include movement (recess is important!) and lunch.

Create your home-school expectations. Engage in a conversation with your child about what they need in order to be successful and add in your own components as well. Create a "contract" that all family members sign and post it in the classroom. 

Create activities that engage the body, heart, and mind. Learning can happen anywhere. Strategic/brain-based games, cooking activities, art and music all engage different parts of the brain. Having your child construct and deconstruct things - whether it is a Lego model or artwork based on found objects - are valuable learning experiences. Everyone needs to be using both sides of the brain!

Create a list of higher-order thinking questions and responses. Avoid asking your child yes or no questions. Always ask them to expound upon an answer. Why do you think that? What would happen if we did this instead? How did you get that answer? This engages your child in higher order thinking and promotes more effective communication.

Ecker Hill Principal Amy Jenkins wrote these simple tips for parents:

  • Tend to the physical and emotional needs of your children first.

  • Have a schedule, build in downtime and time to play, there is no perfect way to do this.

  • Break up the schoolwork into manageable chunks.

  • Review Canvas and student emails with your student.

  • Provide feedback to teachers if an assignment is confusing or too long.

  • Ask for help, we are part of your home learning team!

Park City High Principal Roger Arbabi suggests these tips for students:

  • Keep a normal schedule.

  • Stay on top of your work.

  • Reach out to your teachers if you have questions.

  • Take frequent breaks.

  • Exercise.

  • Stay connected with your friends.

  • Reach out to our amazing counselors if you're feeling overwhelmed.

  • Know that the staff at PCHS miss you.

  • If you need anything just let us know!

And finally, Treasure Mountain Junior High Principal Caleb Fine offers parents this piece of sage advice from the superintendent of Long Beach, NY:

"Don’t worry if you are not the perfect homeschooling parent; don’t worry if you are torn between working at home and helping your kids. Don’t let your kids spend nine hours a day doing schoolwork online—cut them off and tell the teacher it was too much. Don’t let these days be joyless for your kids.”

Jennifer Gallagher, superintendent of the Long Beach, N.Y. District

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