First, 8-year-old Emma changed her name to “Kitty” in the midst of a Zoom session. Another time, she tried to make her classmates laugh by showing them her bare foot. Fiddling with a glue bottle while her teacher was talking was apparently the last straw.
“We just want it to be a successful year for everyone,” the teacher said in a phone call home. The words she spoke were soothing, but her tone said otherwise. “You could hear she was upset,” recalls Emma’s mom, who herself was assigned homework. The teacher told her to clear off Emma’s desk so there’d be no further distractions.
All that in the first week of school for a kid who used her small summer allowance to pay for a math game subscription.
Last spring’s rush to online learning was understandably rife with problems. “For most, remote teaching did not work well,” contends David McKinnon, Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior at Stony Brook University in a presentation by Children and Screens. “Kids gained little or nothing, or regressed.” This time, schools have had more time to prepare. Still, he says, “creating a good remote learning program is a very challenging task.”
Teachers will try their hardest to give students opportunities for higher-level reasoning and independent thought along with the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. What may be lost for kids are the intangibles, like being able to express their feelings, move around, and build life skills. Supplementing those at home will go a long way toward keeping kids’ spirits up and their love of learning alive.
“Ahhh!”, the boy exclaimed as he plopped onto the worn wooden bench. “I’m so relaxed!” The other kids on our short walk felt the same way. We had followed a trail away from school to a small park that usually sits unnoticed and unused. But there, just steps from the school building, the kids smiled more easily and really listened as we stopped to notice the sounds of nature all around us.
Helping kids feel better in mind and body is not the only reason a Green Schoolyards movement is sweeping the U.S. The main idea—especially during the time of COVID-19—is to create more usable space at school rather than to cut back on the time students spend there.
With the start of school, you want your kids to have plenty of time for homework. But what about everything else they need, like to play and sit down for meals? Two easy-to-use online tools help kids of any age to be more balanced, active, and durable–in school and out.