By: Jim Heus
For many of us – parents and educators alike – going back to an entirely remote educational program is not a choice we would make in an ideal world. At Eagle Hill, we’ve loved having our students back on campus (with thorough and appropriate health and safety measures in place, of course!) and we are working hard to ensure that students are able to continue learning on campus after the Thanksgiving and winter breaks. Still, with the rising COVID-19 infection rates in our area and around the country, the return to remote learning is a very real possibility.
For our part, we have spent a significant amount of time and resources during the fall looking back on the spring when we were all learning from home and thinking about what worked for our students and teachers and what could be improved. We’ve purchased laptops and iPads so every student is now equipped with the proper technology at home, created a faculty position dedicated to enhancing our program for remote learners, and continued to hone our plans for a possible switch back to distance learning.
As Eagle Hill – and schools across the country – prepare for this switch, we’re often asked by parents “what can I do to better support my student learning from home?” This question is particularly meaningful for parents of students who learn differently, like our students at Eagle Hill. Here are a few ways you can make preparations at home to make the possible transition easier:
• Scheduling is key: be ready to have your student wake up with enough time to prepare for the school day. Your student should have breakfast, get dressed (casual might be ok depending on your school, but not pajamas), and take time to review their schedule before starting their school day. Work with your child to create an easy-to-follow daily schedule so they can easily keep track of their remote classes and projects.
• Break time: In our daily schedules for at-home learners, we maintain break periods– time for students to be off their screens and out of class. It’s important for all students to have a break from their screens and time for exercise and fresh air.
• Learning zone: Preparing a dedicated spot at home that is as distraction-free as possible is incredibly important. Students should have a spot that is dedicated to their school work/classes, and a centralized space to keep all their materials when school is done for the day.
• Passion projects: If your child loves to cook or bake, draw or paint, or write and read, encourage them to do “work” that they love! Time that was spent on the bus or in the car could be spent exploring new interests.
• Stay in touch: Maintain and plan for ways for your student to keep in contact with their friends. Even though we all want to limit screen time, maintaining social interactions and working them into your child’s schedule will be beneficial. Consider a bi-weekly social Zoom call with your child’s closest friends/classmates!
With winter nearly here, and the cold weather already started, we must all remain vigilant and dedicated to maintaining the health of our school communities. Although we hope to continue our on-campus program this winter, all of us at Eagle Hill are working hard to prepare for the possible return to distance learning.