The Remarkable Advantages of Social Emotional Learning: A Case Study

Educational paradigms are currently undergoing a profound and fundamental change. As we learn more about how children’s brains develop, educators are increasingly shifting away from a narrow focus on content, punctuated by occasional standalone lessons on social and emotional development, and into a new mode of instruction in which these formerly separate realms are integrated into one holistic curriculum. A recent case study demonstrates the success of these principles put into action.

CASEL, SEAD, and SEL

In order to understand the significance of the case study, we must first understand the principles of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has developed a coordinating framework to be utilized by educators, families, and communities to promote intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cognitive competencies in students. To that end, CASEL has developed a framework of 5 Core Competencies.

  • self-awareness
  • self-management
  • social awareness
  • relationship skills
  • responsible decision-making

The Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD) works closely with educators, community leaders, families, employers, and partners like CASEL to fully integrate this approach into K-12 academic curriculum. The goal of SEAD is to compile and release a Report From the Nation, which will outline specific actions intended to usher in a new era of education. This model will support the full development of students, providing them with the skills and emotional maturity to excel not only in academics, but into adulthood.

Case Study: Capital City Public Charter School

SEAD’s first report in the series is a case study of a Washington, D.C. charter school. Capital City provides an innovative learning environment for its 1,000 K-12 students by being part of the Expeditionary Learning network, which emphasizes mastery of academics, production of high-quality work, and development of character.

In practice, this results in “learning expeditions”, such as when 3rd and 4th grade classes compared Washington’s temperate forests with tropical rainforests, incorporating trips to a local park and the National Zoo into the lesson plan. Another example is when 9th graders studied the ecology of local fish, with an emphasis on habitat preservation/restoration and the impact of human activity on fish populations.

This holistic and engaging approach to education makes Capital City fertile ground for the integration of Social Emotional Learning. SEAD’s case study demonstrates this by zeroing in on teacher Samantha Clark’s 6th grade math class. In this lesson, students have been learning geometric concepts by working, alone and in groups, on blueprints depicting their city. Clark calls a volunteer (Brandon) to the overhead projector to display a tightly scripted “peer critique” protocol for the feedback process.

  • First, Brandon describes exactly what he is working on and mentions problems he is having completing his portion of the project.
  • Next, Clark asks “clarifying questions” to fully understand Brandon’s concerns.
  • Then she provides specific feedback, leading with positive comments and following up with helpful guidance.
  • Brandon is then given a chance to respond before returning to his group to put into practice what they have just learned.

This process keeps students engaged, on task, and working together harmoniously. “I don’t see social and academic skills separately at all,” Clark says. “I don’t think first about designing a lesson and then think next about how to develop students’ social-emotional skills. It’s all one.”

To ensure high-quality instruction such as that provided by Clark, Capital City teachers are supported by instructional coaches, given dedicated time to create lesson plans, and frequently meet with other teachers across all grade levels to discuss overarching concerns and goals.

As a result, this charter school outpaces its overall district in growth of student proficiency (as measured by PARCC), and 100% of Capital City’s graduates go on to enroll in college. Despite these impressive achievements, head of school Karen Dresden is always striving to improve. “Our job is much broader than preparing kids for a test;” she says, “we’re preparing kids to do well in college, in careers, and in life. We want to make sure that they have all those skills.”

Other Examples

Also included in the case study are four other examples of successfully implemented SEL approaches.

  • San Francisco Unified School District – The pre-K – 12 math curriculum is taught using principles of “growth mindset,” in which students are taught to expect and embrace mistakes as learning opportunities. This approach focuses on enhancing conceptual thinking, problem-solving skills, and procedural fluency, avoiding the strict right/wrong binary that has led so many students to believe they are “bad” at math.
  • Facing History and Ourselves – This non-profit organization engages students in an examination of social justice issues throughout history with the goal of encouraging students to engage in and understand their role in an active democracy.
  • New Tech Network (NTN) – The NTN focuses on project-based learning, integrating content knowledge with critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and student responsibility.
  • Center for the Collaborative Classroom – This non-profit provides continuous learning for teachers to support the academic, ethical, and social development of children.

Integrating SEL into academic curriculum is clearly beneficial for not only students, but for teachers, parents, and communities as well. By utilizing these principles we can raise the next generation to be socially conscious problem solvers, effective communicators, and well-rounded humans, leading to a better future for all of us.

For more information on innovative approaches to learning, contact us!

Why Do Children Learn Languages Faster than Adults?

By Tori Galatro

It’s a commonly held belief that children learn languages faster than adults. For the most part, science and research support this belief. However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. For example, why do children learn languages faster? How much faster do they learn them? Do they learn them faster because of their environment, their brain chemistry, or some combination of both? Is it possible for adults to learn the same way children do? Let’s look at some of the factors that attempt to answer these fascinating questions.

The Environmental Advantages Children Have When Learning Languages

Children have environmental advantages when learning language that most adults don’t have. Very young children aren’t formally instructed in language the way adults and older children are. They learn by being immersed in multilingual environments. They passively “absorb” the language through contact. When formally instructed, it is through games and songs, not verb conjugation and exams. In fact, adults also learn much faster through immersion, but the cost of immersion is much higher for adults than it is for children. Children have virtually no responsibilities in life, so they have the time and energy to spend hours in environments that challenge their communication skills. Most adults don’t have that luxury.

Children are also better candidates for immersive language learning because they have fewer inhibitions. It’s much easier to learn a language if you’re comfortable making mistakes and sounding foolish, a hurdle that makes most adults extremely anxious. Also, the standard of language competence is much lower for children than it is for adults. They aren’t judged the way adults are so they don’t receive, or give themselves, as much negative feedback when they make mistakes. They also aren’t tested the way an older child would be, so there is less pressure. The learning process is more playful and natural.

As an adult, if you move to a foreign country and nobody speaks your language, you’ll quickly start to learn the new language because you’re motivated to communicate and connect with others. But few adults willingly put themselves in that situation. Young children are often exposed to language in such a situation, but they don’t need to deliberate the merits of their decision. They don’t even know they are learning a new language or know how it may serve them later in life. They just think, “this is how I talk to Dad” or “this is how I talk to my classmate”. It’s the pure desire to communicate that drives the learning.

The Cognitive Advantages Children Have When Learning Languages

Environmental advantages may be important, but it’s hard to deny the cognitive advantage very young children have when learning new languages. Babies and very young children form neural connections at a rapid pace. As the brain develops, it becomes more specialized, reinforcing the neural pathways that are regularly used. This is a good thing because it makes the brain more efficient, but it also makes learning new things more challenging. That’s why those who learn a language at a very young age have the accent of a native speaker. Later in life, those neural shortcuts our brains have created to increase efficiency force us to fall back on the sounds, or phonemes, of languages we already know.

It is because of the brain’s elasticity and rapid neural formation that babies and young children are able to learn languages at a faster rate. This is sometimes referred to as the “critical period”. It is theorized that if a child does not learn any language, including non-verbal languages, during this time period that they may never be able to learn any language, because the necessary neural foundation for it has been permanently damaged. We can’t know the answer to this question because testing it would be inhumane.

The Critical Period of Language Learning

It’s difficult for us to know just how important these factors are when judging the speed of child language learning against the speed of adult language learning. Whatever the primary factor, there are so many advantages to learning languages as a child that it would be a shame not to take advantage of those critical years.

To learn more about how you can enroll your child in a fully immersive bilingual environment, where they can learn languages naturally, visit Tessa International School in Hoboken.

A Look at the Importance of Differentiation in the Classroom

A Look at the Importance of Differentiation in the Classroom

Whether you’re a parent of one or a parent of a dozen, it doesn’t take long to figure out every child has their own pace and approach to life learning. Some children learn best by utilizing trial and error, some by a hands-on approach, and others may be more inclined to grasp concepts they can observe from the sidelines first. There’s virtually an unlimited number of unique ways in which children (and adults!) learn, so it goes without saying that a universal teaching approach is simply not effective. This is where differentiation learning comes in to play.

What Is Differentiation Learning?

Differentiation learning is a teaching technique that is used to reach each individual student through their own learning methods. In short, it is essentially the process of learning professionals getting to know each of their students well enough to understand how each of them learns best and utilize the best teaching approaches for that student. It requires a true understanding by teachers as well as a highly flexible curriculum approach in order to help maximize a student’s ability to grasp education content.

The teaching techniques involved in differentiation learning aren’t a set of magical approaches or workbooks to follow. Instead, the focus is simply on observing the ways in which students interact and learn individually and planning lessons and learning activities around these observations. Put simply, it’s knowing what ways your students are similar and different and organizing lesson plans according to them.

Why Is Differentiation Learning Important?

While differentiation learning requires a deep commitment to truly understand a student’s individual learning approaches, research has shown it to be a highly effective method. According to Waterford.org, “If you can adapt your instruction to reflect your students’ needs and learning preferences, you can make class time more effective and help students become more engaged.”

When children are presented options for exploring and learning new concepts in a manner they are most comfortable or familiar with, it leads to a greater level of involvement – and, by extension, a deeper understanding of the information at hand. Children thrive in environments that encourage learning at their level, and an increase in learning support also leads to an increase in learning focus.

Adaptive Teaching Techniques

It’s important to understand that this approach does not mean coming up with a customized school curriculum that has been tailored to each and every individual student. It isn’t coming up with 20 separate lesson plans for 20 separate classroom students. Differentiation learning does require flexibility with teaching techniques that can be tweaked to reach students based on their own learning capabilities, however, it is more about understanding the needs of students and providing effective options to help support the best possible learning environment as a whole. By providing a diverse set of learning tools and approaches, this technique allows for a high rate of learning success among students because it breaches any potential barriers by finding the right path for educational growth.

 

Social and Emotional Learning: Understanding Different Learning Progressions

Social and Emotional Learning: Understanding Different Learning Progressions

When it comes to the education of young children, development and learning opportunities do not end (or even begin) with traditional classroom studies. In fact, while book studies are certainly important, they are, by far, not the only learning process children need to be exposed to in order to obtain a well-rounded childhood development. Today, more and more emphasis is being placed on nourishing a child’s social and emotional learning process to boost essentially every other learning process they encounter.

What Is SEL (Social and Emotional Learning)?

According to Edutopia.org, “Social and emotional learning (SEL) provides a foundation for safe and positive learning, and enhances students’ ability to succeed in school, careers, and life.” By encouraging a healthy social engagement from children and outlining positive behaviors, SEL promotes a strong sense of self confidence, perpetuates positive attitudes toward all avenues of learning, and also gives way to improved social actions such as understanding, kindness, and collaboration.

The basis of SEL focuses on helping children develop more core attributes that will work in tandem with virtually every life experience they encounter. Essentially, SEL works by teaching children to effectively work together while having the skills to not only believe in their own abilities, but to also encourage and understand the abilities of those around them.

Emotional Development

With SEL, successful emotional development is centered around helping children achieve not only a positive self-image, but also arming them with the ability to positively and effectively maneuver through life’s challenges. To accomplish this, SEL focuses on the following emotional skills:

  • Self-Cognizance. This process involves helping children to thoroughly understand their own emotions, including how these emotions are linked to their thoughts, beliefs, and actions. By teaching children how to recognize these internal relations, as well as harness their own unique strengths, kids learn to develop a healthy level of confidence and self-worth.
  • Self-Control. Expanding on self-cognizance, self-control is focused on helping children learn to manage their emotions and find appropriate reactions for their behaviors. Be it reining in impulses or learning to stay on task to achieve a goal, self-control is about taking their emotional understanding to the next level by mastering their reactions to promote positive behaviors and outcomes.
  • Being Responsible. Taking emotional development one step further, SEL gives children the big picture by making them aware of the consequences of their actions for negative behaviors, as well as provides constructive pathways to more positive outcomes. This involves helping children to consider not only their own emotions and abilities, but also those of others around them, in order to effectively evaluate appropriate actions across a multitude of differences.

Social Development

The second aspect of SEL, social development, expands on the personal emotional development of children by casting a wider net to include learning how to build healthy relationships, curbing negative behaviors, and being socially aware of the diversities of others. By providing examples and pathways to both empathize, as well as communicate, with others, children gain a broader perspective on life experiences and are able to improve their overall learning capacity.

When combined, SEL is a critical part of a child’s development because it not only arms them with critical thinking skills, self-confidence, and essential communication techniques, but it also encourages an overall positive outlook on both healthy relationships as well as a deep sense of commitment to learning and connection with others. Social and emotional learning is the foundation for a more engaged learning experience that will last a lifetime.

The Benefits of Creative Thinking and How to Encourage it in Children

The Benefits of Creative Thinking and How to Encourage it in Children

When it comes to a child’s developmental process, few things can be as crucial to healthy progression as fostering creative thinking. While your child’s imagination and creativity may seem like nothing more than play time, activities that encourage this type of thinking and activity are helping your child to build a solid foundation for innovation and self-confidence. These factors considered, the benefits of creative thinking are quite simply, exponential.

How Creative Thinking Boosts Childhood Development

You may think your child’s imagination activities are an important “break” from learning in a more structured activity like school lessons – and, in a sense, they are – but the truth is, these creative activities are much more crucial to your child’s development than you may realize. Creative activities have so many developmental benefits, including:

  • Self-expression – this helps your child learn how to express their feelings and thoughts from an early age.
  • Problem-solving – by being allowed to freely explore their creative ideas, children gain valuable problem-solving skills as they try new ideas.
  • Curiosity and experimentation – ingenuity is born where curiosity and experimentation are merged, and that begins with creative thinking activities!
  • Insight – in addition to helping your child’s development within themselves, creative expression and activities allow parents and teachers to take a unique look inside your child’s mind. This provides an invaluable tool for tailoring teaching techniques and staying in tune with your child’s development and emotions.

Ways to Encourage Creative Thinking

Now that we’ve seen the enormous beneficial gains that come from encouraging free play and creative thinking, let’s take a look at ways in which we can provide ample opportunities for our kids to partake in them. One of the easiest (and most often thought of) ways for children to use creative thinking is with art. Drawing, painting, and coloring provide an excellent medium for kids to express their imaginations and emotions.

While drawing and painting may be the most popular activity to use to encourage creative thinking, it is, by far, not the only form of self-expression. In fact, many children may not show any interest in the activity at all. In order to truly encourage this type of development, it’s imperative that you take the time to truly listen to your child and focus on what does interest them. Creative thinking activities come in many shapes and sizes, such as:

  • Modeling clay, putty, play dough, and other moldable mediums for sculpting
  • Piano, drums, violin, singing, and any other form of musical play and interpretation
  • Hiking, exploring, and nature or history-inspired trips
  • Photography
  • Chalk drawings (other than traditional paper)
  • Shadow puppets and shape experimenting with lights
  • Mixed media baskets (allow child to create items on their own with miscellaneous and unrelated objects such as cardboard, paper clips, buttons, etc.)

Long-Term Benefits to Imaginative Play

The possibilities for creative thinking and imaginative play are practically endless. The benefits of such play are equally endless. Foster your child’s ingenuity and build up their self-confidence levels as well as help them to develop healthy forms of self-expression with one simple activity: creative thinking.

The Private School Advantage: Why you should consider an Independent School for your Child

The pandemic has changed education forever, and  more families are seeking out schools that are fully in-person rather than remote. As of mid-October, 6 in 10 independent schools were operating in-person and just 5% were fully online, according to a survey by the National Association of Independent Schools.

Tessa International School is open –on-site with virtual class options. Thanks to our dedicated staff, our day-time and night crew cleaners, and to the collaboration of our families, we maintain a safe environment for our community. Since reopening in June, we’ve put in place and continually improve strict cleaning protocols as well as social distancing measures. Most of all, communication with and among our community has resulted in Tessa staying safe.

This flexibility is only one of the reasons that make Independent Schools so special. Here are 8 more reasons why you should think about sending your child to private school:

1. Independence in the truest sense of the word.

Independent school teachers have the freedom to create educational experiences that meet each child’s needs.

  • Guided by the International Baccalaureate, the requirements of the NJ department of Education and European / Chinese standards, our program at Tessa reflects our philosophy, our knowledge and experience. We review and revise it annually, keeping it relevant, challenging and engaging for our students.

2. Mission-driven education.

Each independent school is driven by its own unique philosophy, values, and approach to teaching.

  • At Tessa, through understanding and respect, we aim to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring children. We prepare our students to be leaders of the future that they will live in and happy world citizens.

3. High academic standards.

Independent schools nurture intellectual curiosity, stimulate personal growth, encourage critical thinking, and promote a lifelong love of learning.
  • At Tessa, we provide a world-class education, based on the most successful international models. We emphasize social emotional development of children in conjunction with strong academic challenge.

4. Small classes that allow for individual attention.

Low student-teacher ratios encourage close connections between instructors and students.
  • Our Adult to Child Ratios do not exceed 1:5 in Nursery, 1:7 in Preschool, 1:10 in Kindergarten and Primary.

5. Excellent teachers.

Independent school instructors teach in their areas of expertise. They strive to develop a full understanding of each student’s learning style, interests, and motivation.
  • Our teachers are all native speakers in the target-language. We are very proud to be part of a multi-cultural community of energetic, experienced education professionals who are open-minded and deeply invested in their work.

6. Education for the whole child.

In addition to academics, independent schools also nurture students’ personal and social growth and civic conscience.
  • The “Tessa Touch” is what makes our school different: In addition to our academic core, we incorporate values, a “savoir vivre” to our curriculum. These include table manners, celebrating diversity, caring for the environment…

7. Inclusiveness.

Independent schools foster diverse and vibrant student communities that welcome and respect every family.
  • Here at Tessa, we are very proud of the many cultures – 33 different cultural backgrounds – in our staff and community. This wonderful mix of backgrounds, along with our curriculum is what makes our school, and your child’s education, truly international – and special!

8. A community of parents who actively participate in their children’s education. 

As a parent, you can actively engage in your student’s education, because the staff and teachers want and value your participation.
  • The Parent Organization plays a vital role in Tessa International School’s community-building efforts. It is the School’s and PO’s joint mission to build a cohesive, global-minded community and work together to make a difference in every child.

Private schools create an environment where your child can develop intellectually, emotionally and socially. Parents who value small class sizes, increased safety, a connected community and dedicated teachers find that private schools are a good fit for their child and provide an optimal education experience.

To set your child up for academic success, consider enrolling in private school. Send us a message or call us at (201) 755-5585. We are happy to answer your questions, and we look forward to speaking with you. To learn more about our school, please join us for a virtual information session, or schedule a private tour.

5 Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe During Their Return to the Classroom

5 Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe During Their Return to the Classroom

By now, you’ve likely done your due diligence researching the health and safety guidelines for our children’s return to the classroom. You know how and when to handle modified drop offs and pickups. You know to monitor your child’s health and keep up with doctor visits and immunizations. The list of new safety guidelines may seem endless, but they are necessary. So how do we go about easing the stress they may put on children as they return to the classroom?

How to Ease the Return to the Classroom

Though it may seem like a lot to take in, there are a few things parents can do to help prepare their children for the first day of post-pandemic school. By helping children understand what to expect, it will normalize the new routines and simplify the entire process. Here are 5 tips to help ease the transition safely:

1 – Remain Positive

Children pick up on our emotions and feelings, even if we don’t express them verbally in front of them. The best way to help children remain positive about the new practices they’ll be facing, is by remaining positive ourselves. Be aware of what we are saying (both verbally and non-verbally) and try to focus on the positives.

2 – Practice Hygiene Routines at Home

This is something you’ve likely been doing already but stressing the importance of proper hygiene at home will help children continue to do so at school. Get them in the habit of washing their hands at least once an hour as well as utilizing hand sanitizer and being mindful of keeping their hands away from their faces.

3 – Make a Practice Run to School

It’s one thing to explain a new school drop off or pickup routine to your children, but it’s quite another to experience it. Children often learn best by actively participating in something versus simply being told, so it can be greatly beneficial to try a practice run to school before the first day. This can help them better visualize what to expect when they arrive on the first day.

4 – Keep Open Communication About What’s to Come

Another crucial element to easing the transition back to school is to keep an open line of communication with children as well as school administration. Knowing what the specific guidelines and protocol will be and effectively helping our children understand them through open communication is key to normalizing the new routines.

5 – Get in the Routine Ahead of Time

Lastly, as with every school year in the past, transitioning back to school routines can be tough if kids are not prepared. This year should be treated no different on that aspect. Help children be ready on the first day of school by getting them in the habit of school day routines well in advance. Help them by regulating bedtimes, morning processes, and having schedules in place.

Despite the uncertainties that may be felt about the reopening of schools, we can help our children be safe and prepared by our actions and our communication efforts. Be the example and prepare them for a healthy return to the classroom!

Preparing for the Return to School in the Wake of COVID-19

Preparing for the Return to School in the Wake of COVID-19

While area schools set COVID-19 safety plans into effect for the official return to the classroom in the next few weeks, many parents are wondering what safeguards they should be putting into place as well. Since keeping our children, staff, and family members healthy during this unprecedented pandemic is the highest priority of our community, we certainly want to make sure we are all doing our part to ensure the safety of everyone upon our return to school.

Preparing Your Family for the Return to School

With the beginning of the new school year upon us, families have been filled with questions regarding how education administrators are planning to keep them safe in the wake of COVID-19. After several months of being away from the traditional classrooms, the return seems to carry a degree of uncertainty among families as we all work to safeguard our community from the spread of illness.

The best way to ensure the health and well-being of students and staff this school year is by staying informed of all guidelines and protocol as well as preparing ourselves for the new norms. School functions may look a bit different this year, but it doesn’t mean it needs to be scary or uncertain for our communities. There are several things families can do to help wane any animosity and keep the return to the classroom an exciting time for everyone.

Understanding State and Local Guidelines

The first step in preparing for the new school year is to familiarize yourself and your family members with the local and state regulations regarding safety in school settings. By knowing the legal health and safety requirements placed on all New Jersey childcare facilities and schools by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), we can begin to understand the extensive precautions being taken to ensure the safety of staff and students.

At the state level, schools are required to abide by strict COVID-19 safety protocols in order to remain open for in-person teachings this fall. These health measures include things like:

  • Daily body temperature monitoring of all who enter the facility
  • Classroom sizes are limited to no more than 10 students
  • Face masks are required for all staff members
  • Extensive sanitization and disinfectant cleaning routines by staff and students
  • Completion of proper daily licensing log for the DCF to retain program eligibility

Preparing for School Safety Regulations

Once you have familiarized your family with the DCF requirements for a safe return to the classroom, the next step is to understand any additional protocol implemented by the school administration. Since many schools are opting to include more extensive health and safety regulations, it’s important to know what to expect before the first day of class.

At Tessa International, we have carefully considered the most efficient ways to ensure the safety of our students and staff and are already utilizing our On-Site Safety Measure Considerations that have been put into place for all summer programs as well as the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. Among the new protocols, families should prepare for the return with the following requirements:

  • Staff are required to test for COVID-19 prior to the start of the school year. Students are urged (but not required) to do the same.
  • Ensure all children are current with their physical health screenings and immunizations.
  • Have all emergency medical and personal forms filled out in detail, including contact information in the event of sudden illness.
  • Help children prepare for daily body temperature checks and health screenings by getting them used to this at home.
  • Normalize frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer at home – this will be a frequent occurrence during the school year.

Your 2020 School Supply Shopping List Additions

With the introduction of new health and safety procedures this year, it goes without saying there will be additional school supplies in order to perpetuate these sanitization efforts. In addition to the usual school supply items, families may be asked to provide items such as:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Surface disinfecting products
  • Gloves
  • Facemasks

Many schools may need help keeping up with essential sanitization and safety items, so it is possible you will see these items added to their list. As always, however, it’s best to check with school officials for a complete list of necessary supplies prior to the start of class to ensure your child is safely prepared for the first day.

Helping Kids Learn to Practice Healthy Germ Fighting Habits

One of the best ways families can prepare for the new year is by devoting time to helping children better understand what the changes will be and what is expected of them. By helping to normalize routines like frequent hand washing, using sanitizers, regular surface sanitizing regimens, and keeping safe distances from others, parents can help lessen any animosity they may face on the first day of class.

If you’re looking for ways to help your child ease into the new regulations, here are a few tips for parents to try:

  • Practice hourly handwashing at home – more frequently as needed.
  • Allow children to use child-safe cleaning and sanitization products on home surfaces after using them.
  • Have children wear masks at home to enable them to get used to having them on during school.

Community Safety Commitment to School

While the current public health state has caused a great deal of change for our global communities, it has also shone light on our abilities to band together – even at a distance – and persevere. Our commitment to not only the health of our own families, but those of our friends, neighbors, and fellow community members, is what will help us not just pull through this pandemic but come out with a greater understanding and respect for all. Welcome back!

Struggling with Your Child's Educational Content? Tips and Online Resources for Parents

Struggling with Your Child’s Educational Content? Tips and Online Resources for Parents

One of the biggest challenges of the pandemic stay at home order for many parents has been trying to successfully add homeschooling to an already hectic work and home life. From changing the classroom dynamic (structured at school to laxer at home) to putting parents in the driver’s seat of their child’s lesson plan absorption and completion, parents across the globe are looking for ways to successfully maneuver the changes without hindering their child’s educational growth. To help, below is a look at some of the most widely used and trusted tips and online resources for parents struggling with the homeschooling experience.

Consider Schedules

Your most valuable resource for assisting parents with homeschooling efforts will undoubtedly be contact with their teachers and educational team. In order to optimize your child’s time with their teachers, you’ll want to make sure you set up some form of schedule that matches their availability. In other words, if your child needs additional help outside of their allotted class time online, find out if and when their teacher has extra availability to help you work with them. From there, try to plan your educational time with your child during the availability window of their teacher.

Local Resources

If you find yourself struggling with your child’s educational content and are unable to speak with their teacher directly, try utilizing other local resources. Many schools and parents have organized online chat groups and calling lists for others to use as a community resource for learning aids. If you don’t have access to a school group, contact other parents of students in the classroom or even friends with older children who have been through similar coursework in the past. Peers can be an invaluable resource for struggling parents looking for innovative ways to reach the minds of their children.

Online Resources for Parents

Depending upon the subject your child may be struggling with, there are virtually limitless online resources geared toward home learning. Google has compiled a comprehensive list of free learning activities and sites offering educational opportunities for families to utilize while homeschooling. These include task-based programs as well as programs focusing on various levels and topics of education to help parents reach children from a different perspective.

Another popular online resource, Scholastic.com has been offering hours of free classroom programs every day. These are organized by grade and skill level and easy for parents to maneuver in order to choose specifically what is needed for their child.

If you’re looking for a more elaborate and detailed list of resources, the U.S. Department of Education has an extensive list available on their website for every educational level. Their site provides links to everything from homework tips to subject specific help for math, reading and early learning links as well.

Above all, the most important thing to remember if you find yourself struggling with homeschooling your child, is that you’re not alone. Take stock of your available resources and don’t be afraid to utilize them to the max in order to help your child make the most of their at home learning experience.

Tips to Keep Your Children Focused During Home Learning Sessions

Tips to Keep Your Children Focused During Home Learning Sessions

With homeschooling suddenly becoming the new norm for families across the globe, many parents have been struggling to find innovative ways to not only balance the new scheduling dynamics of their household, but also maintain the focus and educational growth rates of their children. Taking away the structured learning environment of the traditional classroom can quickly lead to an issue with focus and motivation for kids – not to mention a major stressor for parents. So, how do you find ways to keep your children focused during home learning sessions?

Keeping Kids Focused During Home Learning Sessions

If you find yourself ready to throw in the towel with household distractions and a lack of focus during home learning lessons, rest assured, you’re not alone. Millions of families are finding themselves faced with similar challenges and are searching for creative ways to make the best of the situation and ensure their children are getting the most out of their educational time at home. Perhaps the silver lining in all of this is that our current situation has occurred in a time with amazing technological advancements that make it possible to not only learn from home during social distancing, but also to easily research and share ideas and innovations with one another with the click of a button.

Before you go Googling ways to keep your child fully engaged during home lesson plans, however, there are a few things to keep in mind. For starters, it’s important to know your child’s abilities, limits, and potential triggers. Knowing this will help make planning a learning session much more successful, so your first step should be to take note of what you know of your child’s learning strengths and obstacles.

Tips for Parents Struggling with Home Educational Plans

In order to lay out the best game plan for home schooling, take a look at what you have determined to be your child’s best learning techniques. Do they learn best independently, or do they get easily frustrated and need more guidance during lessons? Are they quick to get distracted and need a designated space to quietly complete lessons, or do they do better when they can brainstorm ideas in a group with their peers?

Once you have taken note of the best learning strategies for your child, you can start to develop a better learning approach for them. Using what you’ve gathered, be certain your child has the proper space and utilities available for lessons in order to tailor their educational time to their own needs and minimize frustrations as much as possible. From there, other ways to increase motivation and focus levels include:

  • Maintain a structured – but somewhat flexible – daily routine. Children tend to do best with routines but try not to keep it so rigid that there is no wiggle room – this can cause added stress if you try to force learning at a time that is not optimal for your child.
  • Utilize online resources. Sometimes a different approach is needed, so utilize your online resources like free educational tours, fun activities, or even group chat sessions to allow them to touch base with their friends and classmates to talk about what they’re learning.
  • Plan unconventional learning projects. If you find your child getting burnt out with daily activities, try switching things up. Think about what their interests are and find a way to make them educational. Teach them a recipe in the kitchen. Ask them to design a structure out of building blocks or random household items. Look for an online dance class or activity that gets them moving more. Send them on scavenger hunts for indoor or outdoor items. All of these are ways in which children can focus on following direction as well as utilizing their creativity – in other words, it’s home learning.

With such an unconventional approach to education occurring everywhere right now, trying ways to embrace different learning opportunities can be key to holding interests and gaining a broader educational experience. Think of it as a fantastic time to focus on what truly interests your child and expand on those real-life learning opportunities for them.

“This is a good time for kids to pursue interests they haven’t had time to focus on in the past. It could be cooking, building in Minecraft, or drawing. Bonus: If it’s something they’re truly interested in, you won’t have to bug them to do it,” explains NPR.org.

What to Remember When Managing Distance Learning

One of the most important things to remember when you find yourself faced with a frustrated child (and family in general) is to have patience and utilize your resources. Other parents can be a fantastic resource for innovative ways to keep your child’s motivation up during homeschooling as well as online sites that can offer tips, activity ideas, and free educational tools and activities. Above all, remember to give yourself (and your child) a break – both figuratively and physically – when needed. If things are getting too stressful or distracting, take a breather and try a new activity for the time being. When you’re able to come back to the lesson, try a new approach or bring in the help of others via online chats. Just remember, we’re all finding ways to manage the new dynamics and there’s no single “right” way to get through the day. Find what works best for you and give yourself (and your child) the space to navigate the experience at the right pace for your family. Some days this may look extremely structured and productive. Other days it may mean simply watching movies, cooking together, or doing other things like reading entertaining books instead of more traditional learning sessions. The point is, it’s all learning, it’s all important, and it’s ok if your daily routine isn’t as rigid as it was before social distancing.

Tessa International School

Office: (201) 755-5585 | Location: 720 Monroe St. Hoboken, NJ 07030