As Emergency Distance Learning continues through the end of the school year, IUSD is committed to supporting students and parents. Below is information and resources you may find helpful as you establish structures and routines for your family.
Prioritize Mental Health and Wellness
The outbreak of COVID-19 can result in stress, especially for students who may be struggling to process fear and anxiety related to the disease. In addition, some kids may be feeling lonely, isolated and sad, as they are missing school, friends and related activities. Taking care of students’ mental health and wellness should be a top priority, so they are able to persevere and thrive. Please check in with your children frequently and if needed help connect them to family, friends, IUSD resources or other resources, as you feel appropriate for your family. Please visit iusd.org/COVID19, which has a wide range of mental health and wellness resources.
Implement (Flexible) Structures
It may be helpful to develop structures at home to keep students and parents on track. This includes developing a daily schedule that works best for your family. The following are some examples (customize schedules to meet your student’s needs):
Sample Schedule 1
- 8-10 a.m. – Breakfast and free time
- 10-11 a.m. – Math/worksheets
- 11 a.m.-noon – Reading/worksheets
- Noon-12:30 p.m. – Lunch
- 12:30-1 p.m. – “Recess” no electronics
- 1-1:30 p.m. – Art
- 1:30-2 p.m. – Music
- 2-2:30 p.m. – Science
- 2:30-3:30 p.m. – Enrichment and/or exercise activities (following social distancing guidelines)
Sample Schedule 2
- 9 a.m. – Wake up before 9 a.m.
- 9 -10 a.m. – Morning exercise/activities (following social distancing guidelines)
- 10 a.m.-noon – Academic time (Electronics okay: Distance learning opportunities, educational apps, etc.)
- Noon-12:30 p.m. – Lunch
- 12:30-1 p.m. – Chores (See the following article for ideas and reasons why “Happy Children do Chores.”)
- 1-2 p.m. – Creative time (Art, music, crafts, cooking, Legos, science activities, etc.)
- 2-3:30 p.m. – Quiet time (Reading, puzzles, nap time, etc.)
- 3:30-5 p.m. – Academic time (Try without electronics: Flash cards, study guides, worksheets, books, etc.)
Regardless of the schedule you choose for your family, be sure to build in dinner and quality family time, physical activities, and remember to maintain healthy sleep schedules.
Structured Flexibility Explained
"Distance learning changes the time, place and pace of instruction to provide flexibility for life situations," said Racquel Stephens, IUSD's Coordinator of Online Learning. "When establishing distance learning schedules, keep in mind that structured flexibility acknowledges that the time of learning may vary – some students may work better in the morning, some in the evenings, and some may work better in short chunks throughout the day. Students can meet learning targets at a time that works for them."
It's also important to note that the pace of learning may vary for each student. Every student has a unique learning style and may need more time on some topics and less on others. Structured flexibility can allow students to revisit or dig deeper into topics as needed.
Stephens concluded, "The most effective structure for distance learning is the one that works for the student, and always through a lens of empathy, compassion and flexibility."
Create Learning and Collaboration Spaces at Home
Just as many IUSD schools and classrooms offer flexible seating and learning spaces, think about creating similar opportunities for learning and collaboration at home. It could be anything from the kitchen table, to a comfy spot on the sofa, to a reading fort, to a table on the patio, to an activity space in the garage, to a desk in their room. It’s helpful to limit distractions and clutter but to also give your students options for where and how they will learn best.
Opportunity to Teach Independence
#TheJuggleIsReal is trending on social media for a reason. Parents have responsibilities on top of trying to manage learning at home. This is an opportunity to teach kids independence – how to identify a task and stick to it.
To help manage daily schedules, write them down where everyone can see them. It may be helpful to use a checklist format and to provide your student with a timer to manage each task. If they are able, have them help make breakfast or lunch, and get themselves ready for the day and for bedtime. For younger students, start with small tasks and don’t forget to give your kids praise and recognition for their efforts.
Did We Mention Home Economics is Back?
In addition to academics, build in time for chores that also teach independence and responsibility. The New York Times article “Happy Children do Chores” provides reasons why chores are important, along with ideas for families.
Remember, having our kids home means more cooking, dishes, laundry and general cleaning. Helping out around the home and supporting the family as a team, builds skills and can foster good habits. Plus, it can help give busy parents and guardians a break too!
Maximize Technology and Educational Resources
In addition to Emergency Distance Learning opportunities, IUSD has compiled some learning resources by grade levels, which may be helpful. Teachers and schools are also providing a multitude of ideas to students and families for online and other activities. Continue to connect and reach out to them for ideas. Not all screen time is the same, so encourage your students to use high-quality sources for learning and activities.
Extracurricular Activities Reimagined
Although your kids may not be able to go to sports practice, music lessons or art classes they can still hone their skills and learn at home. One option is to help your students find online and video tutorials. If you have an outdoor space that will allow kids to follow social distancing guidelines, they can practice skills and engage in drills. Get creative and share your ideas with teachers, family and friends. This collective knowledge and creativity can be a tremendous source of support and innovation.
You’re Wearing a Lot of Hats
As you and your family navigate this unprecedented time, we know you’re taking on a lot of new roles and challenges, one of which is that of a student. As much as you’re teaching and guiding your children, you’ll also be learning new skills and lessons yourself. Remember to take it easy on yourself. It’s not going to be perfect, which is what we try to impart to our students by encouraging intellectual risk taking and demonstrating a growth mindset. Together, with grit and resiliency, we can support our students.
We’re Here for You
Schools are closed but education is not. Staff is working and we are here for you. Please reach out to your teachers, counselors, school staff and principals for questions, resources and supports. Also, continue to visit IUSD.org/COVID19 for a wide range of resources and information for students and families.