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Overcoming the COVID “Fall Wall”

These three strategies will help you get excited about school and learning again.

Habits and Skills
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Help your kids overcome the "Fall Wall"

Are your kids hitting the Fall Wall—having trouble getting pumped for school? The pandemic has blown up our sense of time and isolated us. Each day bleeds into the next. Boredom and stress have numbed us.

We’re hearing from educators what we parents already know—it’s getting harder to engage kids in remote learning. Whether it’s student malaise or parent frustration, for a lot of kids remote learning just isn’t working.

Whether it’s student malaise or parent frustration, for a lot of kids remote learning just isn’t working. 

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A Learning Loss Analysis of data from +900 schools shows that 25% of second graders showed up this Fall at least two grade levels below in reading (vs. 19% in a typical year), 30% were two or more grade levels below in math (vs. 20%). More students in higher minority and higher poverty schools tend to be two or more grade levels below this Fall than their peers in lower minority, lower poverty schools.

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An Opportunity Insights analysis shows that as recently as 10/11/20, students from high-income ZIP codes have a 3.9% increased participation in online math coursework compared to January 2020, while students from low-income ZIP codes show a 10.3% decrease. The same is true of higher income metros such as Washington, D.C.

But there’s a way to make distance learning kinda work:

  1. We’ll help you with a daily routine that takes just 5 minutes. It’s been groundbreaking for us and many of our most engaged parents. 
  2. We share 5 Zoom tips (you never knew), to help your kids focus during remote learning. 
  3. And we introduce Reflection how-tos as a coping mechanism for the kiddos.

We hope you feel more grounded after reading these.

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Check-in/check-out daily routine

What’s the first thing you do each morning and the last thing at night? Brush your teeth, right? You’ve established this healthy routine because you like your teeth, and you want to keep them clean and healthy. The same idea applies to your mental well-being.

Check-In / Check-Out is a morning and end-of-day routine that prepares our kids’ minds and bodies for learning. We recognize how we feel, get grounded for the day, share gratitude, and wind down for the evening. It is also a powerful way to connect with those around us.

In fact, this routine is such a powerful grounding mechanism for families that Prepared Parents swear by it. Speaking from personal experience, it has helped us bookmark each day, which is helpful when days begin to blur together.

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Zoom for kids: 5 practical tips you never knew

We’re guessing your kid is hitting the fall wall…right about now. Which means they’re probably hitting the mute or “no video” button often, and having a harder time focusing in class. Below, we share 5 actionable tips to help your kids combat the fall wall while learning remotely.

  1. Ask authentic questions when you’re helping them, and listen. “You haven’t taught until they’ve listened” reminds Angela Duckworth, author of best-selling book Grit. This is a useful tip for educators, group facilitators and parents (who are now teaching at home).
  2. Angela further expands on why authentic questioning, for which there are no simple yes/no answers, is good—because it encourages student engagement. She says “Don’t talk too much. The young people in your life are spending hours and hours on Zoom calls where, by logistical necessity, they’re on mute. The more we can let them unmute themselves, express themselves, and actively engage rather than passively receive, the better.”
  3. Hide non-video participants. Gallery View allows kids to see all Zoom classroom meeting participants. Some kids can find the blank spaces on the screen overwhelming. A helpful trick is to remove those blank spaces. Just go to Video settings, then click “hide non-video participants.”
  4. See the teacher’s face as they teach. For some, not being able to see the teacher’s face as they’re speaking can impact comprehension. In Zoom, your kid can click on Options to engage Side-by-Side Mode, allowing them to toggle between the slide and the teacher as needed.
  5. Sync to smartphone calendar app. Older kids may use their cell phones to log into Zoom classes. A zoom trick we recently picked up is syncing our kid’s classroom schedule and assignment due dates to their smartphone calendar application. This was a game changer!
  6. Keep it simple. Some of us may be tempted to cast the Zoom class to a fancy big screen TV. But kids can find that overwhelming, and may actually prefer the small screen. Talk to your kid about their preference.
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Reflect to know thyself

In the movie industry it’s called watching the dailies. In sports, athletes and their coaches go to the tape. By taking a moment to pause and look back, actors and athletes not only acknowledge their achievements, but also, more importantly, they analyze the areas they want to improve so they can do things differently the next time.

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Oh yes, the past can hurt. But you can either run from it, or learn from it.

— Rafiki, The Lion King

Reflection helps a kid understand themselves: who they are, what they care about, and how they learn from both successes and mistakes. It helps identify their interests, passions, strengths, and opportunities for growth.

It’s during moments of reflection that learning and growth can take place. It is most impactful when a kid chooses to reflect not because they’re told to, but because it’s an authentic choice for them. One surefire way to do that is by helping them turn it into a habit.

Some sample prompts to get the conversation going:

  • What worked to get you into learning mode?
  • How did you keep going when it felt too hard?
  • How did you shift your strategy when your approach didn’t work?
  • How did you stretch yourself?
  • How can you use this to push through to complete this project?

Intrigued and ready to dig in deeper? You can read up on reflection and how to apply it for your kids, and yourself, through our UNBOXED Resource Center.