31 Mar UND College of Education & Human Development faculty publishes advice for parents about remote learning
Top-10-style list features tips and tricks from North Dakota’s experts in teacher training and education research
Faculty in the College of Education & Human Development at the University of North Dakota have developed a collection of tips and advice for parents newly faced with homeschooling, as K-12 schools across the state transition to home-based learning.
Compiled by Marcus Weaver-Hightower, professor of educational foundations & research, and written by faculty across multiple programs – including teacher education, special education, counseling and kinesiology – the list is meant to serve parents by sharing the expertise of the state’s leading teacher-trainers and education researchers.
Cindy Juntunen, dean of the College, said in moments such as the one we face with the spread of COVID-19, “we have to reach out and help each other. That’s just part of being a North Dakotan.”
Cheryl Hunter, chair of the Department of Teaching, Leadership & Professional Practice, emphasized the imperative for a state institution such as UND to support communities at the local, state and regional level.
“It’s essential that we reach out to parents and to community members to help strengthen and provide resources during this period of massive disruption,” Hunter said. “Family and community engagement is at the heart of what teachers and school leaders do.”
Learning at home
Himself a father of two children in K-12 classrooms, Marcus Weaver-Hightower, professor of educational foundations & research at UND, realized parents everywhere were suddenly faced with the prospect of keeping their kids’ educations on track.
“People are struggling right now on a lot of different levels,” said Weaver-Hightower about the circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “Parents might feel as if they have to become strict schoolteachers, and I don’t think they, or their children, want to have that kind of relationship.”
While there is certainly a need to help young people stay on board with classwork, Weaver-Hightower knew that the collective expertise at the College could help during such unusual times.
What’s critical for parents, kids and teachers alike, said Juntunen, is that now is a great time to work on being patient with each other, and providing structure where it might feel absent.
“Kids benefit when they know that the adults around them are able to have plans and make plans, but also to be calm when plans don’t go the way they think,” Juntunen said. “That teaches kids valuable lessons about resilience and coping, which are relevant qualities for all of us right now.”
Other “Top 10” pieces of advice from CEHD faculty include creating learning environments around the house in daily activities such as doing laundry or cooking dinner. Young children can learn about colors, counting and following directions, and teens can start acquiring life skills for when they’re eventually on their own.
It’s beneficial to give kids some choice in planning routines, as it can help provide a sense of control and motivation toward schoolwork.
Also, keep moving! Professor of Kinesiology Grant Tomkinson says staying active not only keeps the body healthy, but also translates to better cognitive and academic performance.
“Snack on ‘bite-sized chunks’ of physical activity,” he said. “Every 30 minutes, do two minutes of something, even if it’s just walking around or stretching – break out of that sedentary cycle.”
But, most importantly, the world is stressful enough right now. Parents should approach homeschooling with self-compassion, humor and the mindset that perfection is not the goal for helping children learn.
“Also, lean on the help and expertise of your children’s teachers, administrators and counselors,” writes Weaver-Hightower in introducing the list. “They have been working heroically to quickly compile resources and get technology access to every child … Don’t be afraid to be in contact for advice or just saying hello.”
College of Education & Human Development contributors:
Contributing faculty, across the College of Education & Human Development, include (in alphabetical order): Zarrina Azizova, Sonja Brandt, Bridgette Campoverde, Bonni Gourneau, Shannon Grave, Sherry Houdek, Gail Ingwalson, Cindy Juntunen, Naomi McGaughey, Judy Milavetz, Katherine Nelson, Diana D’Amico Pawlewicz, Robert Stupnisky, Grant Tomkinson, Kristen Votava and Marcus Weaver-Hightower
David L. Dodds
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University of North Dakota