Inside SFS

Tips for Families on Distance Learning

Damon Allswang (4th and 5th Grade Math and Science Teacher) shares tips for making School on the Go familiar for SFS students

We are aware that many of you have been thrust into a role that you did not expect and may not feel prepared for. Below are some tips for working with your child in a way that will feel familiar to them because they are the ways we guide them in our classrooms. Feel free to pick and choose from this list in a way that works for you and your child.

Reply to their questions with a question, like “What do you think?” or “What do the directions say?” and “What’s the first step?” This keeps them doing most of the thinking and reminds them that they can access most of what they need on their own. It also helps them feel supported since you’re not replying with a conversation ender like “You can do it” or “That’s your job.

Ask them to retrace their steps. “Show me what you’ve done so far” or “Where are you in the assignment?” Sometimes just this simple exercise will help them find a lost thread and can get them back on track.

Breaks are hugely important for children. When you notice frustration or diminishing returns from your child, it’s time for a break. Sometimes just a change in focus is enough, but often a movement break is more beneficial–it gets the blood pumping! You can check Toni’s PE lessons for ideas!

Encouragement is a powerful tool. Asking to see what they’re working on and commenting positively on something specific can go a long way to increasing their engagement and stamina with an activity.

Paradoxically, you being available to them can make them more independent. If they think they’re on their own, children can often feel more nervous about being bereft of the help they’re now sure they’ll need. If they know you’re available nearby, they can often be more independent.

Ensure that their workspace is as free of distraction as possible. Take breaks elsewhere so that their workspace is associated only with work. Even if they are going to use a laptop they use for schoolwork to play a game, it might be best to take the laptop somewhere else for the non-school-related activity.

Remind them that we are all working on having a Growth Mindset. We might not be able to do it…yet. Praise the process, not the outcome. Our abilities can be developed through effort and practice. Children with a growth mindset persist in the face of challenges because they understand that effort and hard work can change ability and intelligence. Mistakes are opportunities for us to learn, focus on them and on what we can change next time.

Let us be the heavies. If you find yourself at loggerheads with your child, and your clear voice of reason doesn’t seem to be getting through, feel free to say, “Let’s email your teachers and ask them!” Either have them type the email or  dictate as you type. Sometimes just this conversation can help them get over the obstacle that was keeping them from moving forward in their work. If not, we’ll get back to you as soon as possible with a (hopefully) helpful answer. In the meantime, take a break and then move on to another assignment.

We are usually pretty open to their divergent ideas on an assignment, and you can be too. If they think of an interesting take on the activity that doesn’t sound exactly like what we asked for, that’s probably ok. If you like the sound of it, chances are, we will too. If you have questions about the permissibility of their idea, feel free to email us.

If your child is looking for more work, know that we always have “May Do’s” available - and if they need more than that, let us know!  For the most part, our work should be engaging and meaningful for the students.

If you find yourself consistently having to work hard to get them to engage, please let us know so we can investigate where the problem lies. We mean for the learning to be thought provoking and meaningful and ideally with some fun too.
Bear on the Go

This is a work in progress and will require calibration on all our parts. Please continue to let us know, via our surveys or by emailing us.  If you have questions about daily material, please ask teachers directly.  If our systems feel off from what your child (or family) needs, connect with the Curriculum and Program Leadership Team through Kate McElvaney (Kindergarten - 3rd Grade) or Nancy Nagramada (4th - 8th Grade).

Thank you so much for your partnership while we navigate these challenging times. We are grateful for you, and look forward to reconnecting in person as soon as possible! 

Posted October 09, 2020