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2020 Back To School: Guide For Parents Struggling With Home Learning

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Back To School looks a lot different this year. Most students aren't going back to classrooms for a while.

Instead, parents are getting their kids ready to start school from home. With all 10 counties currently on the state's COVID-19 watchlist because of a surge in new cases, no Bay Area schools will be starting with academic year with in-claas instruction.

So what do parents do now? Helping us make the adjustment, is Dr. Emily Slusser, Child and Adolescent Development Dept. Chair at San Jose State University.

Where to begin?

"Start by getting to know your child all over again," Slusser said. "This time from the perspective of a teacher. Of course it's helpful to start with where your child stands in school. Like what grade level they're in and what their strengths and interests are. But more specifically it's helpful to really take into account what they're able to do on their own. What they can do with the support of others and what they're not quite ready for."

"We provide the support and structure for children to learn. Encountering and learning and meeting where they're ready, to make sure students aren't spinning their wheels on content they already know. We can avoid the sense of disappointment or stress that comes along learning new content."

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Supplementing the Loss of a School Environment

"As parents and in this new role as educators at home, it's important to think about what we might be missing," said Dr. Emily Slusser, Child and Adolescent Development Dept. Chair at San Jose State University. "That's slipping through the cracks? For example, we've got this structure and the schedule of a regular school day."

"To the extent that's possible, we can re-formulate that school structure and schedule at home and in that structure and schedule, we want to build in time that allows us to engage in social exchanges with peers."

"As students are walking in between their classes, they are oftentimes have these informal conversations. They are talking about and processing life and real world events. Unless we have that scheduled into our opportunities in our in-home learning environments, it's going to be a major area students will be missing. We also want them to get physical exercise of course. Not only in a structured PE setting but those breaks that students get in between classes or during their recess or lunch period. We want to build those into their in-home school environments as well."

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Helpful Links:

The Every Mom - Keeping Kids Social

We Are Teachers - Virtual PE Classes

Children's Health - Ways to Increase Physical Activity at Home

What do you do if you don't know the answer?

"I recommend engaging in that research process together, that learning process together," said Dr. Emily Slusser, Child and Adolescent Development Dept. Chair at San Jose State University. "I had that opportunity to revisit the world of quadratic equations with my daughter and I felt like it was helpful for us to go through that process together, for me to go ahead and be very forthcoming about what I do and what I don't know and the things that we don't know, we go ahead and find out.

"Another opportunity might be, if it's possible, if you find yourself working from home as you're also trying to educate your children and engage in that curriculum, maybe inviting them to look over your shoulder as you engage in your day to day work activities."

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Helpful Links:

Hippo Campus- Free Educational Resources and Videos in 13 Subject areas

National Association of Psychologists - Tips for Caregivers Managing Stress

CA Dept. of Education - Special Education Distance Learning Guidance

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Advanced Technology.

"We know experts have been warning against heavy use of technology, especially in the early years, but now we see technology as the main mechanism to access learning, especially in the K-12 learning environments," said Dr. Emily Slusser, Child and Adolescent Development Dept. Chair at San Jose State University. "We are relying on our tablets, our laptops, our internet resources more heavily than we have before."

"Sometimes when students seem to be struggling with the content they have been assigned, it could be just a lack of understanding about how to interface with the computers that they have or the tablets that they are using or with the online nature of some of the curriculum."

"So that's important to understand and identify. Is it the content knowledge that the student is struggling with, or is it that they are having trouble with interfacing this new technology? As we get to the older age groups, it's important to revisit those tech expectations. When is it appropriate to be on your cell phone technology? When is it not appropriate to be on that?"

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Helpful Links:

CA Dept. of Education - Internet plans

Apple - Wide Open School Online Apps/Resources

CA State Library - Online Content Project

Big Picture -- Diversifying to Balance Out Positives & Negatives

"A lot of us, most of us maybe, will emerge from this crisis relatively unscathed," said Dr. Emily Slusser, Child and Adolescent Development Dept. Chair at San Jose State University. "In fact, with the initiative that some parents are taking to create teaching and learning pods, coordinate study buddies, hire tutors to support students learning, I'm somewhat optimistic that these children will remain on track and maybe even excel in the long term."

"However, when you take a step back, can you take a more aerial view of what's going on here. It's important to think about how this practice might accentuate some inequities we have in education. On the forefront of our mind might be the digital, technology divide; who has ready access to technology, and the support and mechanisms that they need at home to support learning and who doesn't. But also you can think about the learning groups, and how they might be contributing to this issue as well."

"What I would recommend is reach outside of your friend groups when you are formulating these pods. Reach out to your neighbors, diversify the groups from the asset. It's a cliché, but it takes a village so we just need to be conscious about how we are forming those villages and making sure they are inclusive all while maintaining social distancing guidelines we get from the state."

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Helpful Links:

Alameda Oakland Home Schools Support Group

Ted Talks for Kids

CA Dept. of Education


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