(This is a guest post by Dana Kaplan. Dana has her MA in Early Childhood Education with an additional certification in Gifted Education. Dana joined PS 33, Chelsea Prep for the 2006-2007 school year. During Dana’s tenure at PS 33, she taught Pre-K for two years, launched the ICT-Kindergarten class, and independently created, piloted, and launched PS 33’s Gifted and Talented Program. Dana recently launched her personal business, Developing Empathetic Education with Dana (D.E.E.D.), where she consults with schools and parents on the critical needs for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as well as gifted and talented and “all things school related.”)

As a veteran teacher who’s had the privilege of working with a myriad of learners across all ages, spectrums, and demographics, I am offering (and highly encouraging!) EVERY parent, guardian, and family FULL PERMISSION to SCREAM and STOMP! You didn’t sign up for homeschooling and now, it’s truly encompassing your entire life! Oh, and don’t forget about simultaneously maintaining your full-time job, cooking/grocery shopping, keeping your home zen, social distancing while coordinating facetime playdates and…and…and!

Second permission to SCREAM and STOMP!

Now, it’s time to breathe, deep into your belly and slowly release! MY job is to bring you calm and support! Over the past and current days, weeks, and months yours, mine, and everyone’s life will be flowing with opportunities to employee flexibility. Flexibility ultimately occurs when we release control of the uncontrollables! Below are a few tips to unlock doors that seemed jammed, unknown, or forgotten.

1. Always AND forever, YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’S PARENT! Your sole job is to unconditionally love, encourage, laugh, grow, and accept your child. Forget the books, the endless emails from teachers, the countless guilt for not knowing or understanding the latest common core strategy requiring three ways to solve a math equation, and most importantly, STOP comparing how you’re doing with what your friends or child’s friends’ parents are doing!

YOU ARE A ROCK STAR because you are showing up daily and taking each day in stride!

2. The space between your ears is LIMITLESS! Options are always available for you to choose. As you receive emails and instructions from your child(ren)’s teacher(s) and school, think about what best suits your child, you, and your entire family! Remote learning is complex and can easily turn into an immense amount of screen time with limited human interactions! Look for opportunities to turn the assignment into a richer exploration! 

  • When asked to research about a time period, an area in the world, compare and contrast articles, etc, invite your child(ren) to creatively teach you about what they learn as well as seek out other ingenious techniques for them to show learning through cooking, art, singing, dramatic interpretations, or anything active! 
  • Social interactions with peers is equally or more imperative than any assignment your child receives! offers free 40 minute slots, and your child(ren) can hold Zoom sessions with peers to teach them, too.  
  • Instead of having your child on the screen for endless amounts of time, return to the art of writing! Once completed, your child can take a photo of their amazingly neat and well crafted work, upload the photo to whichever site your school uses for assignments, and close the world of technology until the next day.

3. Flexibility produces resilience, resilience produces adaptability, adaptability produces a gooey brain ready for anything that comes one’s way! We hear on the regular how having a “growth mindset” allows the unknown to occur, inviting new ways of thinking or exploring the world with different lenses. However, how do we actually find these “new” lenses and more, how do you ensure the new lenses stay in place during such uncharted times? Life is full of unknowns, and as both an educator and life long learner, I have the power to choose how I approach my learning AND my teaching!

Your child is the captain of their learning!

By handing over the reins to your child, they will quickly learn that flexibility opens a myriad of doors for communication, self-discovery, and ownership in accomplishing their given tasks. Your child(ren) will organically learn how resilient they are by navigating assignments, honing in on concepts that are accessible when presented with new information and “not yet” learned skills. Best, in a calm state, your child(ren) will be able to adapt to their teacher’s availability. Adaptation will help your child prioritize the given workload, check-in with their own self about when support is truly needed or wanted, and will help each person celebrate their ability to acknowledge how and when to STOP, BREATHE, AND TAKE A BREAK! We are all programmed to GO! And now, we are inviting an opportunity for our gooey brain to welcome new ways of learning, exploring, and discovering how previously learned materials can in fact support unfamiliar areas!

4. PLAY, RUN, LAUGH! Learning and discovery happens everywhere, especially when we step out of our rigidity and into the foreign fields! Instead of using standard measurements to make your favorite cookies, have your child figure out equivalencies and bake away! Turn up the music and have dance parties! Rewrite the directions to your favorite board game! Pull out the “mad-libs” and tell funny stories! Creating and maintaining a sense of lightness feeds our soul!

5. Remember, all of this is temporary! If you need additional ideas to support your child and you during these uncertain times, reach out!

We are a community that CAN AND WILL RISE TOGETHER!

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