Volume 18 Digital Issue
Teachers to Parents: Working Together Using STAR Pointers
“Children are the priority. Change is the reality. Collaboration is the strategy.”
— JUDITH BILLINGS
The recent pandemic forced schools to close their doors for in-person learning and challenged learners, teachers, parents, and caregivers to open their minds to home-based education.
Children are the priority. It is easy to lose sight of this fact with all the demands of home-based education and we sometimes end up doing more harm than good. As an article from Common Sense Education reminds us, “…kids may or may not talk much about the virus, distance learning, or how the pandemic has affected their social lives -- but they're feeling it. Parents and educators should try to lead with love and remember that strong relationships with kids make for positive educational experiences.”
Change is the reality. Prior to the pandemic, children were brought to school to learn. Now, children are at home “doing school” through the many and varied platforms and materials for distance learning such as modules, learning management systems, and other digital media.
Collaboration is the strategy. Home-based education has imposed more responsibilities on both teachers and parents. The scale of the required parental participation in the learning of children now is unprecedented. The expectations from teachers are also unmatched. However, teachers and parents are not alone in this. School leaders, the Department of Education, industry leaders, and other stakeholders are all pitching in to ensure that education continues.
Given these foundations of our present reality, what follows are some STAR pointers on how we teachers can best help our students and their parents and caregivers as we all continue with home-based education.
Space. Where it happens impacts learning greatly. The learners’ homes, along with their virtual classrooms, are presently the setting for learning. Teachers should guide parents in making their home, or at least part of it, conducive for learning. For starters, teachers can tell them to do the following:
Dedicate a well-lit and properly ventilated space in their home. Let parents know the importance of ensuring that the tools their children need for their schoolwork are nearby and properly organized.
Keep learning spaces clutter-free. Toys, non-school gadgets, and other distracting objects should be placed somewhere else. Parents must be able to teach children to “declutter” and teachers can guide them in keeping their virtual space clutter-free.
Respect children’s learning space. This means that parents can stay near enough to the younger children for them to hear if they need help but far enough so that they can learn to do things on their own. Tell them they can check on older children once in a while but do not hover around them.
IN THIS ISSUE
by Almira Jallores
Teachers should guide parents in making their home, or at least part of it, conducive for learning.
Time. When the learning takes place and how much time they put into their schoolwork can affect the learners’ performance. Time management can be modeled by parents, but they can also be guided to implement these at home:
Make the children follow a schedule. Parents should make sure their children keep to the schedule given by the school and that they have time before and after classes to attend to their personal needs.
Schedule frequent breaks. Especially for younger children, properly placed breaks are important not only to match their attention span but also to ensure that they are getting their lessons in small digestible chunks.
Include time for other activities like physical exercise, interaction with other family members, and talking to their classmates and friends.
Attention. The quality of attention given and received by children at this time is extremely important. Parents will benefit from the following suggestions that teachers have long known to be effective:
Help them understand. Like teachers, parents should focus on making their children understand rather than just making them remember. This may involve using analogies and stories or demonstrating concepts.
Help them prioritize. The learners should be guided in evaluating which tasks or lessons they should study first and which ones need more attention.
Focus on the positives. Parents should avoid constantly pointing out what the children are doing wrong and instead focus on calling their attention to what they are doing right.
Reward. Teachers know the power of motivation and reward. Parents, who are used to giving gifts to their children just because they are their children can now be guided to use the same to lead their children to school success. Parents may benefit from the following reminders:
Reward children. Younger children will still appreciate a sticker or a stamp for a job well done. Older kids will certainly love a few more extra minutes doing non-school but safe activities online in exchange for good work. A display area in the home to showcase their best work may be a good idea, but an even better one is generous and sincere praises.
Reward themselves. Parents are not the perfect teacher yet, but they are doing a fine job. Teachers can encourage the parents by helping them verbalize their appreciation for themselves for the good job that they did for the day or for the week, if only to themselves.
Reward teachers and school leaders. Encourage parents to reach out to educators and ask for their help. This lets educators know that parents are confident in their ability and that they trust their judgment.
Parents may not have been given enough preparation time to take on this pandemic-imposed participation in the children’s education, but teachers have stood up to help them. After all, with parents and teachers working together, what is home-based education but the start of better education?