Dear Challenge Success Family,
During these uncertain times with school closures and significant shifts away from normal routines, many people have expressed concerns about the impact on students’ academic journeys. I want to encourage parents, educators, and students in the Challenge Success family to remember the big picture. This is a time to focus on — and be grateful for — your family’s safety, health, and well-being. Make building strong family relationships a priority. Reach out to neighbors, friends, and others in your community to check in, offer support, and connect virtually. We will get through this together.
Each family is experiencing this time differently depending on how the local schools are approaching remote learning, the work commitments the adults are juggling, and the unique needs of each child. I worry about our underserved population in particular and for children with challenges and learning differences who rely on schools for food, safety, therapeutic care, and stability. I know that educators are working tirelessly to meet the needs of all of their students to the best of their ability. For those families who have been given remote lessons and resources from the schools, try to honor as best as you can what the school is asking your child to do. If the workload feels like too much for your child and your home situation, communicate with elementary school teachers and have your middle and high school students advocate for themselves directly as well.
For families concerned that their children are missing out on academic content, remember that at a time like this, less is more. I encourage you to broaden your definition of learning and focus on playtime, downtime, and family time. Think about how to help your kids continue to develop skills rather than trying to re-create school content by assigning extra worksheets and flashcards. Critical skills for kids of all grade levels include reading, problem solving, and communication, as well as social-emotional skills like resilience, collaboration, flexibility, and positive coping. Use this time at home to support these skills along with prioritizing students’ well-being and engagement with learning. As a family, discuss and agree to a routine that might include the following:
If you set up a routine that includes the suggestions above, your child will be learning important academic and social and emotional skills that will prepare them for returning to the classroom and help them thrive in school and out. So be gentle on yourself. Be patient with your kids and your partner. Have empathy for teachers and express your gratitude for them and others. Try to embrace and enjoy this family time and stay healthy.
Denise Pope, Ph.D., is a Co-Founder of Challenge Success and a Senior Lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education, where she specializes in student engagement, curriculum studies, qualitative research methods, and service learning. She is the author of, “Doing School”: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students, and co-author of Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids. Dr. Pope lectures nationally on parenting techniques and pedagogical strategies to increase student health, engagement with learning, and integrity.