Education at home, in school or online?
With the days narrowing till the lock down ends, states are interested in planning a reopening. In California, they are talking about reopening schools in July or early August. They are also stating things like social distancing may still be in effect as will learning online. We may need to go back into lock-down in Fall or Winter if there is a significant increase of COVID patients. The unknown is still so great. They may have smaller classes so less kids will be taught in one closed space at a time. Something anyone who understands education or has taught knows this is a preferable way to give more supportive attention to individual needs anyway. However, if by doing so the other half of the class will sit 6 feet apart in the auditorium on their chrome books I may think twice about sending my children back to school. I know a few people are considering homeschooling as an option at least for this coming year.
Smaller classrooms- who would've thought that this should be a priority (hear sarcasm) and with the amount of people without jobs it could also cause economic strength- creating more jobs!
Economic Growth- meaning we will need more people supervising our children to provide smaller classroom style learning possibilities.
Recess or Play- there is a corpus of research showing that kids who have the opportunity to self direct their own play will practice life skills, be more competent at problems solving, develop critical thinking skills, enhanced executive functioning, ability to cope with difficult situations and much more. What if we were to give them an opportunity to self direct their learning through free play time? And then switch to a classroom setting?
How could we do that while social distancing? Well, trust the kids to make up games that work under these guidelines. We could support their process but essentially that's their job and they have the potential to accomplish this- let's give them credit where credit is due, after all, they are the best at playing!
Electives- We always talk about intrinsic motivation and the need for kids to be in control of their interests. Bring electives to elementary school.
One school I worked at taught curriculum till lunch and then the kids had two hours where they would choose a new elective every 6 weeks. Teachers were still running these classes but based on their own interests as well. They had everything from comic book writing, to drumming, to outdoor ropes, to learning carpentry and building, to cooking, chess and arts. Off the top of my head additional lessons could be podcasting, robotics, coding and all kids rotated constantly keeping the distancing in effect.
Adding electives about climate change and responding to our environment and the constant changes we are seeing, like: fires, gun violence, now even pandemics. Or simply starting school initiatives to become “greener”, grow a garden!
We could add multicultural studies where they learn about different cultures or histories of people near and far with the intent of causing wider acceptance of others.
These ideas are just off the top of my head.
Project Based- Some kids could choose a topic that really interested them and learn all of their core curriculum through that topic, including writing, mathematics, social studies, science. All of it.
In elementary school a huge part of learning is socializing and emotional coping. They might choose an elective because a friend is going to be in that same group. And, why not?
I've seen it work and it would also mean smaller classes promoting social distancing.
Additionally, because of the size of schools and the amount of classrooms available per school we may need to think outside of the box about classrooms and where and how they can accommodate the need. Rec centers only open at 2pm- they city and the schools could work together!?!
Parks near the school is one I've been thinking of as well as any outdoor learning space. California has the perfect weather for this.
There is much more research that we could implement now in this changing system. Lets take advantage and put it into action. We can do this!
I'd like to set up a small forum of individuals to begin discussions on proposing something like this to the Merced City School District. Email me if you'd like to be involved.
Comments are welcome!
At home today the kids were self entertained because I began thinking of all of these possible school initiatives. I was a bit overwhelmed with thoughts and ideas- slightly motivated as I saw the possibility of innovation and improvement!
The only thing I did with them that is somewhat interesting was drawings using geometrical shapes!