New Roles At Home? Tips For Parents And Teachers

Parents and teachers are wondering how to rethink and reframe their lives. Parents are now teachers for their children at home. Some teachers are also parents who now teach their own children at home even as they continue to teach their students from home. Parents are enjoying having their children at home (most of the time) but are taking charge of their new added role as teachers. The good news is that most schools/districts are setting up online learning, sending home lesson packets, and even providing iPads or other useful tools. Nevertheless, you find that you still need to adapt these to your ELs or multilingual students. While it is exciting to learn and try new things, it can also become overwhelming at times. Yes, time is the overwhelming factor! Here are a few tips for organizing what we thought would be a lot of time on our hands but has now become “not enough time!”

Teachers: As parents, the first thing to do is to come up with flexible daily and weekly schedules. Remember, this situation is new for all of us! It’s OK to adjust these schedules after trying them out. Following that, you might want to send your template to your students’ parents and have them adjust it to their own lives. Be sure to let parents know that you are sharing a resource—not dictating a course of action. Your students’ families are as diverse as your students are, and this is not the time for a one-size-fits-all approach. Concomitantly, you want to work on systematizing your tasks and procedures, pretty much like it is in school but with more flexibility and enjoyment. Establish a place for you to work with your child, to work with your students, and for your children to do their schoolwork while you prepare for the next day. Include children in coming up with these schedules, producing the ancillary materials, finding or making learning tools, and exploring websites.

As you explore websites, stop at to review social emotional learning. During these dire times, everyone needs TLC, empathy, self-control, confidence, optimism, love, and joy—now more than ever. Add these to your teaching and joint learning projects. All your SEL activities will be a great benefit for you to continue to use when schools reopen, as well. Your children will have learned more resilience and self-discipline. Share your templates and activities with your students’ families.

Most important, reward your children, your students and yourself! You are handling so much. You deserve a daily reward; chocolate is OK, but the acknowledgement that you are doing your best and helping so many should be your thoughts as you go to sleep. Thank you on behalf of all multilingual learners who count on you more than ever!

Here is a list to check off or get inspired to create one of your own. Share with your students’ parents.

Home Sweet Home Checklist

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Stick to a routine enough to help kids settle into this new way of life but be flexible enough to be sensitive to their needs. Here are a few more lists of things that adults and kids will need as we all adjust to this new way of working, learning, and teaching:

Teachers: include the following each day for your students:

  • Opportunities to connect with you via a variety of media, so that each student can connect with you in the medium that works best for them
  • Tasks that focus on independent practice over new learning
  • If possible, opportunities to connect with each other to discuss schoolwork.
  • Acknowledgement that your students do not have equal access to online tools, physical materials, time, help from an adult, or even basics like food or a sense of security
  • An understanding that some of your students may be experiencing trauma, and that some of them may be further impacted by re-living past trauma
  • A clear message that it’s OK if they need to ask for modifications to the learning plan

Families: include the following each day for kids:

  • Time to complete school assignments
  • Time to create
  • Time to read for pleasure
  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Time outside
  • Time to do something just for fun
  • Just the right amount of screentime
  • Flexibility when things don’t go as expected

All adults: include the following each day for yourself:

  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Time outside
  • Time to read for pleasure
  • Flexibility when things don’t go as expected

Working from home is a new and different experience! Pay attention to your rhythms and try to notice when you are most productive. Try to build a schedule that allows you to have uninterrupted work time during that part of the day. Change your expectations and be ready to change them again. Eight hours staring at a screen is not the same as eight hours of working in a physical building, no matter what kind of work you do! The same goes for eight hours of learning. Get plenty of sleep. Eat healthy.

Teachers: Here is an additional checklist with information specific to language learners that you can send home to your Spanish-speaking families.

El Poder de la Comunicación

  • Cada conversación que tenga usted con los niños y adolescentes les enseña la riqueza del español y de su atención. Cuando los niños/adolescentes usan palabras para contarle lo que ven, lo que necesitan o para describir sus emociones, se dan cuenta del poder de las palabras y de que las palabras ayudan a apreciar la cultura y el idioma del hogar aún más. Aquí está una guía para que escoja un tema o una actividad y practiquen el español.
  • Haga preguntas; muchas preguntas. Que sean interesantes, ayuden a la imaginación, den soluciones a problemas sencillos, etc.
  • Amplíe la conversación preguntando: “¿Qué sucedió antes?”, “¿Qué sucedió después?”, “¿Qué te pareció?”, “¿Qué te gustó más?”, “¿Cómo te imaginas que es este lugar?”, etc.
  • Cuente historias sobre su familia y sus costumbres, celebraciones, comida, etc.
  • Enséñele las canciones que cantaba o le cantaban de pequeño.
  • Describa los lugares que han visitado, donde han vivido, su historia, sus leyendas, su importancia, etc.
  • Cocinen juntos y nombre todos los ingredientes, los objetos de cocina y describa todos los pasos al estar preparándolos. Busque una receta de cocina que usaba la abuelita y describa su procedimiento de preparación al contar la historia de la abuelita. También describa los sabores, olores y los recuerdos que estos evocan.
  • Gracias por su colaboración con los maestros. Extrañamos mucho a nuestros alumnos. Les deseamos a todas las familias salud y bienestar en estos tiempos difíciles y sabemos que juntos venceremos todo esto pronto.

©Guadalupe Espino

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