What a lot has happened in only a few short weeks.
On behalf of all our staff at Woodend, I would like to say a huge thank you to all of our front line people, the doctors, specialists, researchers, nurses, cleaners etc who work closely with COVID-19 in some way every day. We appreciate the incredible work that you do.
Only a few weeks ago, we didn’t know that we would be having 4 pupil free days to plan for a new online learning program for term two. Staff (teachers and SSO’s) have been incredibly focused on learning how to go about preparing such a program. There are no prior experiences to build on so we are all learning as we go. I am sure that there will be a number of hiccups along the way and communication is going to be the key.
A letter will be posted home this week from your child’s teacher explaining the online learning program that will take place next term.
Please remember that at this stage we are working on what we believe to be the case in three weeks time when term two begins. Further updates from SA Health could alter our work, and this blog is the best place to get access to any updates that we share.
I have included at the end of this a piece given to me from an online source. It answers some of the questions that I know have been circulating during the past week or so.
Firstly however, here are a number of points for your information:
- This is crisis schooling or emergency schooling. It is not a true home schooling program where parents have opted to do schooling from home. Hence, don’t be too hard on yourself. We are in this together.
- Teachers will plan the daily work/program for your child at home. They will be feeling their way to begin with so please be patient. Emailing your child’s teacher with your questions, thoughts etc. is the best way to get your queries answered. These queries will be responded to when the teacher is able to do so. Expect there to be alterations along the way.
- Emailing will be the best way to ask questions as teachers will often not be able to respond immediately, unless it is in the context of an instruction period. They will be teaching, programming, modifying, responding to student queries, updating content, marking and so on.
- It is a legal requirement that we take a roll of all students who engage in learning each day. This is being monitored by The Department. If we don’t get a response from your child, expect a follow up phone call.
- The work will not be equal in instruction time to the actual time in a school day. When at home, it is un-realistic to expect that to be the case. Teachers will be including work or assignments that cater for learning in ways that can often be carried out independently by students. If you feel the there is too much given (or conversely not enough) then contact your child’s teacher and have a chat. In the article below it has some suggestions for the instruction component of the day, and while this will possibly be different for your child/ren, you can see it does not equal a school day of instruction.
- If you work from home and time is an issue, remember that you can be flexible about how you manage your time between working, and assisting your child with their learning if necessary.
- If you are keeping your child home and have concerns about your ability to provide a suitable internet connection or an appropriate device, please speak with your child/rens teacher/s or detail your concern in an email directly to the front office. We are working through the feedback given by families regarding internet access, however some have not responded, or in some cases we need additional information to determine their exact needs. However, the survey was extremely useful to help us understand what we need to do to support our Woodend families. Thankyou to all who were able to respond.
- The school will be arranging a loan system for families who have a need for a device for a child, which in this case will be an iPad. There will be a contract to sign and it will still require a connection to a wireless network.
- School remains open for children of any essential worker in order to allow them to continue to carry out their work. An essential worker is defined by Scott Morrison as anyone who has a job. We also understand that there are often reasons why other children will come to school other than based on just that definition. No child will be refused schooling at school.
- Children at school will be doing the same online program at school as they would be doing at home. There will NOT be two seperate programs in operation.
- Teachers will work as best they can to continue with physical distancing of children who come to school. This becomes more difficult if a greater number of children attend. We don’t really know how many children will attend next term but rely on a considerable portion of our enrolment remaining at home, to receive the online learning program. Hygiene will continue to be a focus for all children at school. To cater for a 1.5 meter social distance between students, we would need to limit the number in a classroom space to about 10 students (they need to be able to move around as well).
- Additional cleaning has been given to all schools to cater for commonly used surfaces in administration and staff areas. There has also been additional time given to cleaners to ensure that desks in classrooms and door handles etc are cleaned each day.
- Play equipment has not been closed in schools. The Department has determined that play equipment itself is okay to continue to be used in schools (at this stage). Students are required to wash hands directly after playing on the equipment at recess and lunch times.
- Classrooms obviously are a shared area and so good hygiene practices are important to maintain a safe environment. In a school there are a number of shared areas such as seats, desks, toilets, walkways, play areas etc. Hence the washing of hands or using sanitiser is really important.
- Research shows that children who work from home often do better academically that their counterparts at school. While there are many reasons why this may be so, generally they get more 1:1 attention at home and have less distractions while they work. It may be argued that other aspects such as ‘getting along with others’ may suffer, but then with the Coronavirus, this is the point of being home in the first place.
Create a home study plan based on your child’s attention span
Reception to year 2 age students can tolerate from 1-2 total hours of instruction per day. Kiddos in this age group will need help staying on task and organizing their work. Developing a predictable routine can help with their lack of executive functioning skills. Do not punish kinetic learners for not being able to stay in their seats; instead try scheduling in breaks. This would also be the perfect time to work on reading skills. Read with your child and then have them read to you.
Middle school age student can tolerate between 2-3 total hours of instruction per day. Kiddos in this age group are learning how to be independent and have a more robust social life than their elementary age peers. Therefore, using video conferencing platforms will be helpful keep them engaged with their assignments and with their peers. If you find that your kiddos are not focused or not participating in an activity, maybe it’s too challenging for them. Enlist the help of their teachers or find an online tutoring service to help your child through the struggle.
When implementing this new schedule, remember that your child’s teacher has learning objectives that involve knowledge, attitudes, and skills. So, your children are not just learning “facts” at school. This should help you to feel more comfortable when you decide to spend an afternoon baking cookies rather than in traditional instruction, since many math skills are used in the kitchen.
Also, keep in mind that this is a time of crisis and there are professionals who are crafting plans to get the students up to date when they return to school. Your job is to keep them healthy and return them to school emotionally intact.
• You are NOT restricted to school hours. Do whatever is best for you and your family.
• Add in ample breaks and snack times, as it is difficult for kids to sustain attention.
• Incorporate talking, reading, singing, and role playing to make learning fun.
• Incorporate chore time into the schedule. Measurements, ratios, and other mathematical concepts can be learned right in the kitchen.
• Use discipline as an opportunity to teach, since impulsive and forgetful behavior is inevitable.
• Do reach out to the teachers about their proposed schedule for your child, as they are professionals and know what your child’s age group can and cannot handle.
• Utilize the resources that your child’s school has provided and do not get overwhelmed with the wealth of resources online. Let your children’s teacher guide you regarding what may be helpful.
• If your child is taking medication for ADHD or other conditions, this is not the time for a medication holiday. Continue medications as prescribed. If you have questions or concerns about the medication, call the prescriber.