BY AMON PIERSON
From preschool to high school, students have had to adapt to online learning while at home. Presenting a challenge to parents and in the face of a global pandemic, parents have scrambled to figure out how to make sure their children are meeting their educational goals and are intellectually stimulated while at home. This article takes a stab at figuring out how to keep students intellectually stimulated while simultaneously getting them ready for the next school year.
To answer this, I decided to ask the experts. Jeanne Lester, Speech Therapist at Majestic Elementary, said that one of the best ways to keep students on their A game is by doing things that are enjoyable for the whole family. A scavenger hunt up Waterfall Canyon, a puzzle, or simply playing Slap Jack are great ways to stimulate them intellectually with fun games, and at the same time, involve the entire family. To keep students on track with their educational goals, Lester continued, “It’s just as easy as sending a quick email to the student’s teacher to see if there is any work or fun things that they can do over the summer to get them ready for the fall. Next year could look very different than normal, so it is important that teachers, students, and parents are open to change and willing to work together to make sure that the students are where they need to be.”
Next, I looked to my high school math teacher, Angie Carrier at Weber High, to find best practices for students to ensure their academic success next year. She said that given the unknown circumstances of next year, it is important to stay on top of students’ educational goals through other resources. For her own kids and her students, she recommends parents use Khan Academy, a free, online and fun resource that has lessons across disciplines, “Learning is still so important, and Khan Academy can help fill in gaps where they missed instruction from the final quarter of school.” Carrier then said that it is really easy to fall into a gap because the time at home has felt like an extended summer break, so it’s really important to stay on top of their educational goals for their success next year.
Students need to be mentally healthy in order to perform well educationally. Danielle Short, counselor at Majestic Elementary, said that the best way to keep students mentally healthy to ensure their academic success is to keep a routine. She continued, “The days are mixing together and students are confused. Although it may look a little different with social distancing and quarantine, keeping a routine is the number one recommended thing to ensure the mental health of your students.” She also said that it is important that parents are managing their own anxiety, “Children get a lot of cues from their parents, so it is so important that parents make sure that they are mentally healthy.” Keeping healthy, both mentally and physically, is paramount in the educational success of students.
Parent of three and North Ogden local, LaTonya Jackson, is a testament to the struggle that parents are encountering, but also how to integrate intellectually stimulating activities (such as bike riding) into her family’s schedule. Aware that she is not a teacher and despite a lack of motivation caused by the pandemic, she’s been able to homeschool them using Imagine Learning. She said that maintaining a school schedule has assisted her in providing education and stimulating activities for her children.
During this unprecedented time, some form of normalcy is comforting. Keeping a routine can help the whole family stay mentally healthy, which allows students to meet their educational goals. Educators in our area assert that the best ways to get students ready for the next school year are activities centered on keeping students intellectually stimulated and using our resources to help our students be the best they can be.