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Distance Learning is a Team Effort– Teaching During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered schools across the country, teachers have transformed their plans in every way in order to provide continuous learning for their students. Trinity’s preschool team has responded to this change with communication, ideas and  resources for parents. Although this message is written for parents of youngsters, its message is relevant for parents of all ages…

 

Dear Parents,

We are working hard from home to provide you with appropriate content and to keep our curriculum running–albeit in a different way than we all expected.  We are learning new things and trying new strategies everyday. Some work better than others. Please understand that this is as new to us as it is to you.  Have patience as we navigate these uncharted waters together.

 

One thing we are hearing from parents is a desire for a schedule.we want to assure you that we do NOT expect you to replicate an entire school day while at home.  Working one-on-one with students is much different than working with a classroom full of students. Your child will probably complete their daily assignments at a faster pace when working one-on-one with you at home, and there will be less time needed to transition from one activity to another.  That means your school day will be shorter, which is perfectly fine! Even when we are at school we take “brain breaks” to allow children some down time. Worksheets and flashcards are okay once in a while, but it is not “best practice” to have 4-5 year olds sitting at a desk all day and moving from one structured activity to another.  We do not do it at school, and we would not want you to do it at home.  

 

Use snack and lunch times to teach.  We do it every day at school. You can count, compare, and sort your snacks.  You can make patterns. Or you can just talk and make connections to things you’ve been learning.  Use these times to model good manners such as sitting down while eating, chewing with your mouth closed, taking turns to talk, and cleaning up after yourself.  Some of our best interactions at school happen during snack and lunch!

 

All of that being said, we want you to plan to have some time during your day where your children are just “being children.”  Allow them the opportunity to explore things on their own, experiment and socialize. If your child has a sibling, encourage interactions between them, and try not to  direct things for them. Children need time to play freely and use their verbal skills and problem solving skills on their own.  

 

If your child does not have siblings, learning to play independently is important too.  While you can sometimes be your child’s playmate, be sure that when you are, you are teaching and modeling appropriate and realistic social interactions.  For example, do not always let your child go first or win at a game. That is not how things work in the “real world,” so let them learn that now. When playing with your child, allow for your child to be uncomfortable with new things and do not rush in to fix problems for them or make things easier.  Children need to learn how to handle frustrations appropriately and navigate obstacles independently.  

 

We are all learning those same lessons ourselves, aren’t we?  This distance learning situation comes with some obstacles. We are trying to navigate through them with our families as well.  Be patient with us, and just as importantly, be patient with yourselves. We will figure our way through this together.

 

Mrs. Lebel and Mrs. Topping are the Pre-K teachers at Trinity Lutheran School.

Learning Beyond the Classroom– Our ISCA Experience

 

By Mary Langhill

 

A few years ago when our daughter was entering 4th grade, we decided we wanted her to go to a Christian school. We did some research, took some tours, and even had her take advantage of shadow programs.  During this process, a Trinity family talked to us about their daughter’s school experiences and showed us pictures of her recent trip to England– yes, England.  And that was the deciding vote…  we had no idea how or when, but knew if we registered her with Trinity Lutheran School, she would have the opportunity to study in England.

 

Our questions were answered last fall, when the coordinator of the Independent Schools Cultural Association visited TLS and explained the program to us including the fact that our school was invited every other year.  As a sixth grader, we knew she would be given this opportunity again after her eighth grade year, but we didn’t want to wait.  She was the only member of her grade level on the trip, but the fantastic students in the higher grades included her in everything, and she had the time of her life!

 

So, besides an opportunity of a lifetime, what is ISCA…?  It’s far more than the brochures describe.  Yes, she visited a lot of historically significant locations in England; yes, she learned a lot about the culture of England and how that affected the culture of her own country; yes, she learned how to play cricket and rugby.  But she also learned how to manage her money, how to get a 5 on a room inspection (maybe I should try this at home), and how to take responsibility for her own actions and possessions.  Her teachers this year have commented on how much more she participates in discussions and how much her confidence level has increased in general. The friendships she made on her trip span the globe.  On our way to the airport to drop her off, we asked her what she hoped to gain from this experience.  She said she wanted to meet new friends.  Goal accomplished.  We do not regret sending her in 6th grade.  We saw a personal growth from this trip that would not have happened at any local camp.

 

But wait, there’s more… Now, since she participated in ISCA England, she has been offered the opportunity to participate in ISCA Scotland.  This trip will take place during Christmas break of her 8th grade year.  This second trip is only offered to students who participated in the summer session in England.  Any student who meets this criteria is invited back to Scotland even if they have already moved on to a different school, but we like that she will still be in Trinity.  We have signed her up for this follow on trip.  Participation in both programs opens an opportunity to apply as a counselor after she graduates from high school.

 

We never could have imagined that a chance discussion with a family prior to her 4th grade year has resulted in opportunities that will continue long after she graduates TLS. As for our daughter, she’s looking forward to her next adventure abroad already!

 

Mary Langhill is the mother of one daughter, and has been part of the Trinity family since 2016.

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