We’ve talked a lot about how little kids (and their parents) experienced schooling disruptions over the past year. But college students, their families, and their instructors also went through a major shift in how higher education is delivered and experienced. Today’s special bonus episode features a conversation with Hsiao-Yun Chu, Ph.D., a college professor, mom of two young children, and longtime listener of the podcast. She shares her thoughts with Sarah on how virtual learning and virtual teaching created some real positives in higher education this year, and even what she hopes will continue after the pandemic is behind us.
As this incredibly strange and stressful school year winds to a close, parents are looking ahead to next fall and wondering: Should I send my 5-year-old to kindergarten, or wait a year? Will my first grader remember how to make friends since she’s been behind a screen all year? Will the struggle that was virtual learning mean my kid never learns to love school again? These are understandable worries, especially for those who are in the middle of their own first experience as school parents. This month’s Voices interview guest is Kelly Hiltz, kindergarten teacher who has seen it all this year – remote, hybrid, in-person – and mom to two boys in preschool and early elementary. Sarah and Kelly address the concerns parents have about kindergarten specifically, COVID learning loss generally, and what a 2021-2022 school year might look like for families. We also touch on “red-shirting” younger kinders, how to know what decision is right for your child, and what specific things families can do this summer to best prepare incoming kindergarteners for the fall.
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Register for kindergarten, or wait another year? Scrap the distance learning and opt into a homeschool program, or stick it out and hope campus opens in the fall? Stick with what your friends and neighbors are doing, or blaze your own trail when it comes to kids’ education? There is no end to the list of questions parents face when it comes to making school decisions – and many of them crop up around this time of year when applications and registrations come due. In Episode 298 of The Mom Hour, Meagan and Sarah offer seven guiding principles to consider when making any school decision, from preschool through high school. We can’t help you decide or tell you what to do, but today we’re here to validate the struggle and give you our experience.
“Zoom school” is in session in both our homes, although the programs and schedules are very different for our six school-aged kids, grades two through eleven. In this week’s episode we check in about how remote learning is going for our elementary, middle, and high schoolers, giving an honest assessment of the areas that are going better than expected (or worse…or just about the same). We also pool our experience to share some strategies for keeping kids motivated and engaged, and recommend some purchases to set up your home as a learning environment.
My kids–starting second, fifth, and seventh grades this fall–are all learning from home right now. And while I’m in love with some of the cute home learning workspaces I’ve seen shared online, we just moved into this house in July and I don’t even have it decorated from a baseline yet, let alone a refresh for my kids’ distance learning.
So instead of cute decor, my focus has been on pure function. We’ve seen how a few small purchases can make a BIG difference in kids’ ability to sit, focus, and attempt to learn in this crazy environment. Here are a few things we’ve learned so far: