#AskATeacher - Academic Success

You asked, we listened. Through text and video, National Teachers of the Year respond to your questions and concerns about supporting children academically.

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Structures and Routines

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    Find answers to questions about how to structure distance learning.

  • I find that my children are "too comfortable " at home and they haven't mentally grasped they are in school. Are there any techniques or daily habits you would suggest to help form that mindset? -- Stacia, Coral Springs, FL, children in 5th and 7th grades

  • Can you provide recommendations for structuring remote learning schedules? Is it better to start in the morning and continue until assignments are done or will breaking up the day into a morning half and evening half work better? -- Lou, Mapleton, UT, children in Kindergarten and 1st grade

  • Being at home all of the time, the kids seem to have a hard time understanding it's time to put on your "learning hat". The transition from playing to work is very difficult now. How can this issue be addressed? -- Priscilla, New York, NY, children in Pre-K and 4th grade

Staying Focused

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    Find answers to questions about helping children stay focused during the virtual school day.

  • How do I help my child stay focused throughout the instructional time during distance learning? There are adequate breaks built in the schedule but he seems to have a hard time staying engaged. -- Lyly, Philadelphia, PA, children in Pre-K and 2nd grade

  • How can I keep my child focused on the school lessons when there are so many distractions of daily life going on in the background? We have a household of 4 generations living in the same home. -- Valerie, Willingboro, NJ, child in 1st grade

  • How can children with different learning styles stay engaged during Zoom classes? -- Shami, Atherton, CA, child in 6th grade

    • Tabatha Rosproy, 2020 National Teacher of the Year: Helping diverse learners often comes down to choices. You may have one child at a table, one child sprawled on the floor, and one child pacing the room while listening. This is totally okay, and the kind of accommodation we would make in the classroom!  If your child is struggling with an expectation because of a learning style difference, say something like, “I noticed it is a struggle for you to sit at the table. It can be hard for some people to learn that way.  I have some other spots you can try. You can sit on the couch or try standing by the counter so you can move your body more.  Which one is best for you?” If your child is older, you can ask a more open-ended question like that help you strategize together and give your child ownership of this time.

  • Can you provide advice for young children learning remotely when they are not yet able to be self-guided? -- Megan, New York, NY, child in 1st grade

Further Learning

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    Find answers to questions about supplementing remote learning.

  • When my child claims they have "nothing else to do" for their online learning for the day, how should/could I supplement their learning without making it a chore? -- Merry, Dublin, OH, children in 5th and 8th grades

  • How can I supplement the absence of extracurricular activities and field trips during this remote learning period? -- James, Spring, TX, children in Kindergarten, 2nd, and 6th grades

  • How can we support STEM and Science learning at home? Our district has cut it from the 2020/2021 curriculum. -- Elizabeth, Westport CT, children in 3rd and 5th grades

  • My daughter is done with her virtual day around 11:00am three days out of the week. Is there a plan that we can follow that will supplement her existing learning? -- Holly, Jackson, WY, child in 7th grade

Addressing Concerns

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    Find answers to questions about navigating challenges that arise.

  • The common core learning model is completely different than how I was taught. There are times when my children have asked for help and I was unable to assist. What advice do you have for this? -- Felicia, Mountain View, CA, children in 4th and 7th grades

  • If my kids have a problem with their assignments, where can I go to get help? -- Maria, Brooklyn, NY, children in 6th and 7th grades

  • How can I support the teacher? -- Mary Lou, San Diego, CA, child in 2nd grade

    • Linda Rost, 2020 Montana Teacher of the Year: We need to extend grace to everyone working in this challenging situation. While parents and students are navigating uncharted waters, teachers have also been placed in a situation they have little control over. Many have had little time to prepare and will have to be able to pivot to another format at a moment’s notice. The best way to support the teacher is to make sure your child has everything needed to access their learning best. Then, you can reach out to the teacher, tell them how much you appreciate their efforts, and ask how to help. An encouraging email, note, phone call, or even materials for their classroom, can go a long way. Finally, if the situation arises, support their efforts to keep their students and classrooms safe.

  • Parents working outside of the home on virtual days means a daycare provider is helping with school work and this is not what they are trained for. Can you share any suggestions to collaborate with daycare providers on completing school work? -- Annie, Louisa, VA, children in 1st and 3rd grades

  • How can I as a parent work with the teacher to improve our distance learning experience without adding to her already full plate? -- Rebecca, Hillsboro, MO, child in 2nd grade

Tracking Progress

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    Find answers to questions about gauging children’s academic progress during distance learning.

  • How much emphasis should I place on their grades considering this unusual circumstance of long distance learning? -- Cirilo, Laurel, MD, children in 4th and 6th grades

  • How do I know if my child is learning if he isn’t tested? -- Kimberly, Greenwich, CT, children in 3rd, 6th, and 8th grades

    • Linda Rost, 2020 Montana Teacher of the Year: Standardized tests are one way to assess a student, as are summative classroom tests that a teacher may give in a classroom setting. Neither of these may be possible during this time. However, there are many other ways that teachers can assess student learning than tests. In fact, there are some learning goals that are very difficult to assess using these types of tests. Teachers are experts at assessing students formatively, while the learning is happening. Teachers can also provide qualitative feedback to students that isn’t in the form of grades. This can help students grow even more! Finally, if you are involved in facilitating your children’s home learning, you can also be involved in assessing their learning. I would encourage you to talk with your teachers about your concerns!

  • How can we effectively monitor our children's course work and encourage independence and responsibility at the same time? -- Maureen, Spotsylvania, VA, child in 5th grade

  • How do we gauge their progress, especially if both parents commute to work? -- Nubia, Claremont, CA, child in 4th grade

    • Linda Rost, 2020 Montana Teacher of the Year: This is a challenging time, and we need to afford ourselves grace. Talk with your classroom teacher and let them know about the situation. Depending on the child, there may be different ways to help them organize their time and monitor their learning. My own children are learning at home while I am teaching in-person, so I understand the challenge. Set up a daily planner or organize the work they have to do in a way that makes sense for them. It is also important to have a quiet learning space where they can organize their materials. For my family, we’ve had to split the workload, since we both work, and find time to work with our children individually to monitor growth. Most of all, it is important to remain positive and encouraging. Children learn best in a positive environment.

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