Parents need to know that distance learning does not define their worth as a parent.

Take heart…and then take these few simple actions that can smooth the journey.

Distance learning programs designed to bring school curriculums online and into households have been launched by schools all over the globe these past few weeks. For some parents, this may be exciting – a dream come true! For others, it might feel like a challenge from an episode of Fear Factor, or perhaps as though you are being forced to take the stage in a performance for which you did not audition. Gulp!

But, here’s what I want to say to parents – take a deep breath and know that nobody is going to judge you by how well you do – or don’t do – distance learning.

This past weekend I read an article by Dr. Laura Markham, on her website Aha! Parenting.com, about the uncomfortable feeling that some parents may have as they prepare to support their child’s education from home. Several key ideas in her blog resonated with me. However, one point really stood out to me: The situation we are in right now is NOT homeschooling…

Homeschooling is something parents intentionally choose to do. Rather, this is taking on schoolwork in our homes because of mandated shelter-in-place orders and parents should know – they are not in this alone – we are all in this together. As parents and teachers, we are going to find ourselves partnering in new and innovative ways as we transition our teaching and student learning into your home environments – hopefully as seamlessly as possible. At BCD, we believe that the experience of preschool is a valuable tool in the development of children and as such schools should be committed to providing this crucial component of learning and socialization during these tough times to the best of their abilities.

We believe parents need to know that distance learning does not determine their value as a parent. We need to let parents know that we are here for them and that we will support them along the way to ensure they don’t feel overwhelmed. And to that end, we need to offer them tools. Ways that they can set themselves and their children up for success. Below is a list of action items that parents can use to make this period of ‘distance learning’ run smoother. Note, I share some key points here from Dr. Markham’s article as well as some of my own advice.

  • Make the school’s schedule your new best friend. If the schedule they sent doesn’t work for you, make one that does and use it. A schedule will save your sanity and will help prevent every minute of the day from becoming an invitation to a power struggle with your child.
  • Preview any learning activities you can and decide what you can reasonably accomplish. The good news is, if your school is being mindful of children’s needs, as well as the time and energy required of parents, then the schoolwork your school created for your child probably won’t take long. Let your school know what is working and what is not through whatever feedback forum they provided.
  • For Preschoolers, reassure your child that nobody is at school. Your child may not understand what is happening and why they’re not at school. I created a short YouTube video for the families at my school in which I take them on a tour around our preschool building and show them that, really, no one is at school. Ask your student’s teacher if they might be able to provide a message similar to this and I bet they will happily oblige.
  • If you can only do one thing with your preschool child, READ. Research shows that absolute number one thing we can do for our children is to read and model reading. Doing so helps to nurture their love of reading and helps to ensure that they grow up to be a reader – not just someone who knows how to read.
  • Expect emotional development to be on the agenda. We’re all struggling in our own ways right now, and your child is no exception. According to Dr. Markham, some children show this by misbehaving. Others are surly or torment their siblings. You probably have less patience than usual, but your child needs your help to work through emotions they may not be able to articulate. Remind yourself that your child is trying to cope with this unprecedented time, just like you are. Schools understand this and should be making it a high priority within their lesson programming.
  • Give yourself a break and remember to practice self-care. Think of the safety instructions flight attendants give before take-off and put the oxygen mask on yourself first. Be sure to take care of your own needs so that you can better attend to your child’s.
  • You don’t have to be Mary Poppins and you don’t have to suddenly be a model teacher. Resist the urge to compare yourself (or your child) to others. This is new for all of us. It’s not going to be perfect. Focus on keeping things simple and fun as you settle into your new distance learning routines and platforms.

Finally, I cannot resist sharing this Seuss-inspired distance learning poem I found on the internet (source unknown.) I think it really sums up the message the teachers of the world want parents to know right now:

“I will teach you in a room, I will teach you using Zoom, I will teach you while I’m in my house, I will teach you with my mouse, I will teach you here or there, I will teach you because I care…”

With gratitude and support,

Kath Courter, Head of Preschool at BCD

More on BCD’s Distance Learning program

More on BCD’s Preschool program

More on BCD’s Elementary program

More on BCD’s Middle School program

8 Tips for Choosing a Kindergarten Program

Featured

There are numerous Kindergarten options available for children and parents. Today, more than ever, parents carefully examine their many choices: open enroll or neighborhood, public or private, full day or part day, morning or afternoon, academic or play-based…So what should a parent look for in a Kindergarten program?

 1. Consider the atmosphere of the school and classroom. Are you greeted warmly when you visit the school? Do the children seem happy, excited to learn, and eager to be there? Do the teachers and administrators create an atmosphere of support and individualized attention. Remember that the early years are a time when children must develop a love of learning and excitement about school. A child’s sense of “I am and I can” is often solidified in kindergarten and that confidence will help to propel them through many more years of school and learning. Chose a school that communicates this message to you.

BCD teachers and staff, from Preschool through to Middle School, are intentional every day in their teaching and dedication to children. We promise to promote a love of learning within a safe and nurturing environment our priority.

2. Small class size is critical. Small class size helps to ensure that your child’s Kindergarten teacher truly knows your child. Small class size coupled with in-depth knowledge of your child means that teachers are better able to support your child strengths, challenges, and opportunities for growth. Many educators talk about the need for differentiating instruction (i.e. tailoring teaching for individual students). However, reality often does not provide the time or resources for this to happen in classrooms. When class size grows, even the best teachers are forced to teach to the median learning level of the students. When your touring schools be sure to ask about how teachers meet a wide variety of learning styles and needs. Be sure to ask about their strategies for acceleration, remediation, and accommodation.

Elementary class sizes at BCD are limited to 18.

3. Teachers support and nurture students as they learn to navigate socially. Academics are important, but strong social skills are critical to success in today’s world. Whether a person is five years old and knocking over another child’s block tower, or is 50-years-old and irritating co-workers at the copy machine – it is the same thing. Social skills, and the life lessons that accompany learning what works and what does not, are a cornerstone of success today. Look for a school that is focused on supporting development of the whole child and is committed to teaching character development.

BCD’s Elementary School Program has an extensive social and emotional support program including: Responsive Classroom trained faculty, a school counselor, and the Kid Power program.

 4. Teachers have support. Do the classroom teachers have the support of the school administration? Are there resource teachers to help ensure that student needs are met? Do teachers have time to collaborate with one another? Do teachers work as a team and share ideas? Do teachers take the time to work one-on-one time and in small groups time with students? Again, do not be afraid to ask these questions. 

BCD teachers have time built into their weekly schedules for grade level collaboration. Additionally, BCD teachers have a monthly collaboration time that focuses on cross-division collaboration or professional development.

5. Every child matters. No child should ever fall through the cracks – PERIOD.

BCD students are known and nurtured everyday by a faculty of many. The Kindergarten team at BCD includes a homeroom classroom teacher, teachers in world language, science, innovation, music, art, physical education, and library, as well as, school counselors, literacy specialists from the BCD Learning Center, the Head of Elementary, and the Head of School.

6. Look for balance. Just about every adult can recall the drone of Charlie Brown’s teacher and the image of children being sucked into a void of boredom. Kindergarten should also be exciting! Look for a balance in the daily routine. Ideally, students should experience a blend of teacher directed and child initiated activities; activities for the large group, small group, and time to work individually or one-on-one with a teacher; time indoors and time outdoors; time to be focused and put pencil to paper and time to just play and have fun. A balanced Kindergarten program will offer challenging academics and variety of enrichment classes (i.e. “specials”) such as art, computer, music, choir, world language, physical education, technology, and science lab.

BCD’s Kindergarten program stands apart in its breadth of enrichment offerings.

7. After school programs are an important factor. If you know that you will need to use a school’s before or after school program (also commonly known as Extended Day, Y-Care, or KinderCare), check out the program. Does the program seem organized? Are classes held afterschool that might interest your child? Is the program easily accessible to families and easy to use? Can you have your child drop-in on an as-needed basis or is a reservation required? In addition, the cost of extended care either before or after school is often significant. Ask about these costs up front.

BCD offers several affordable (and fun!) on-site after-school classes, as well as, daily aftercare. Our After-School Program (After 3 at BCD) is available to use any day you need it – without advance notification or reservation.

8. Trust your instinct when you visit. One of the most important factors to consider is the feel of the classroom and the sense that the children are actively engaged. It is critical that teachers create this foundation through joy, enthusiasm, and a nurturing passion that reminds us all of our most nostalgic memories and positive experiences in elementary school. Avoid the “mompetition” of what others parents say or do and choose a school that feels right for you and your family. The school that feels right is often the best fit for your child.

If you’re still considering your Kindergarten choices for Fall 2020, we invite to take a look at BCD. Call to schedule your tour today.