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Norwalk parents’ frustrations boil over, but positive suggestions abound

Maddie from Brien McMahon High School, Kenneth from Roton Middle School and Sebastian from Brookside Elementary work at distance learning recently. (Norwalk Public Schools)

NORWALK, Conn. — Several weeks into the grand experiment of “distance learning” necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Norwalk parents’ attitudes run the gamut from optimistic problem solving to utter desperation.  A sampling of recent quotes from Facebook’s Norwalk Parents for Education page reflects the scattered array of opinions and emotions:

 

Many parents are challenged by the curriculum

  • I asked my daughter’s teacher for an answer key for the math. I know how to get the answer, but I don’t know how they would teach it. We did Monday’s assignment, and I sent it to see if I was on the right track and I did it completely wrong. I didn’t make her redo it.”
  • I have to stop and read so that I can understand what’s required and then I have to give a 15 minute lecture complete with YouTube videos etc, it JUST. TAKES. FOREVER. And some things – I don’t understand myself, like I understand it but I don’t know how to explain it, or how to teach it the way they’re teaching it in class? Today was an easier day. I need anti-anxiety meds now.”
  • The new packets that were sent home for phase 2 definitely have more work. We spend so much time completing the work daily! We all need a break.”
  • The new packets of BOE are tough. My daughter is in 3rd. Teacher said if it goes beyond 3.5 hours to stop. We had a couple really bad days where both of us ended up crying.”
  • I can’t do it. I do 3 worksheets a day and that’s it.”
  • I have concerns about kids’ now unfettered access to YouTube (it is a learning tool, but we lock YouTube down at home on our devices and it was locked down when kids were on school devices) but I’m not sure how to solve for that.”
  • This isn’t home schooling! Home schooling is an educational choice parents make. This is distant learning. It’s not meant to be sustainable for long periods of time. NPS is in ‘phase two’ of making it up as they go and everyone’s already overwhelmed.”

 

 

 

 

Some parents are challenged by their kids

  • I can’t deal with the whining. My son is out riding his scooter now. Maybe we will try later.”
  • I am seriously losing my damn mind!!”
  • I’m gonna strangle both of them.”
  • He says it’s boring and just doesn’t want to do it…they are so confused. This is not good at all! They think it’s a vacation! They want to be on their own agenda.”
  • Horrible. I’m trying to work and hand hold my 8 year old.”
  • “I can tell you I barely do any of the activities they send for my preschooler. He entertains himself and basically asks for snacks every half an hour.”
  • …is it too early to start drinking?!”

 

 

Teachers offer their wisdom

  • I told the parents in my 3rd grade class that the children need to be responsible for their learning. They have the outline of the day and the materials. If there are any questions email me or post on google classroom. We don’t want the parents to have to hand hold them. I know it’s more difficult with younger children.”
  • My two cents as a teacher: No parent should be sitting with their child to do work. We wouldn’t do that as teachers so you shouldn’t. Yes go over the directions, check for understanding, but then leave them alone. Foster independence. The more you help the more they will want your help. Have them jot questions down and then email the teacher.”

 

 

And many parents offer techniques and solutions

  • Neighbors, try to make it fun, and put snack and exercise breaks into the day. We definitely don’t want to create any anxiety or trauma around school work that could develop into school avoidance in the future. There is a reason the school day is broken up with snack, lunch, recess, specials etc. It is because that is needed and developmentally appropriate. Maybe have a family meeting and brainstorm together ways that you can create more space for fun and movement in the day for your children.”
  • Every time my kid has a question regarding their work, I tell them to email and ask their teacher. I also wrote in time slots for my fourth grader so she can know that she is on schedule and making sure she is doing the right amount of allotted time.”
  • I have been working hard to empower my 2nd grader and 5th grader to read their schedule and work as independently as possible, and come to me with questions. What is done online I am leaving teachers to grade. Working full time I pick my battles and am putting trust to the teachers and kids. Also taught my 5th grader to engage directly with his teacher who is doing a GREAT job in being available and responsive to his questions.”
  • He wants me to sit with him and give him answers. I refuse to do that. I will help, but I make him do it. It’s 5:40 and he is still doing it.”.
  • I start as early as possible bccause  I know my son focuses better in the morning…I try to remind him this is different and tough for everyone: him, his teacher, myself but we have to work together to get it done.”
  • We have a hard end time – if by 4 he isn’t done we leave it be. It just gets added to the following day. He did not like doing leftover work Saturday so it motivated him to do his work before 4pm.”
  • My 1st grader doesn’t start any school work until around 11AM. He has breakfast and does his own thing in the AM. This allows me a few hours of work time without having to spell anything or help with anything else. And he has gotten more relaxed about school work and doesn’t want to do it because he would rather play or watch TV – so my husband and I have his ninetendo on lockdown – if he wants to play on weekends he needs to do his work. If he wants extra Kindle time he needs to do his work. No work = 0 screen time.  I mix in videos too – the other day science was about Saguaro  so I pulled up YouTube videos to make it more appealing. Same with a Mona Lisa art thing. If he seems stressed I let him play with his brother or have a snack. Hang in there – we are all doing the best we can.”
  • My twins are 5 so we do our worksheets but take a run around after each subject they have, then do tablets after lunch, 15-20 math and then the other.”
  • If she focuses, it takes a very short period of time. However, she’s always wandering away so it spreads out throughout the day. I have found that if i remind her that she can do what she wants once the work is done (playing in the backyard, doing a craft, watching a movie), she tends to be more motivated! Hang in there!!”
  • We work 2hrs, lunch, loooong break (outside mostly) and then easier half (reading/math) works well with my K and 3rd grade kids.”
  • Yesterday took 7 hours! Today I said that’s it, no breaks until we’re done. That went much quicker. They have a hard time coming back from breaks.”
  • I’ve got a kindergartner and a 4th grader. I give them lots of breaks and they get to earn a prize every Friday for working hard. It’s anything from slime and dollar store stuff to $5 for Robox or extra screen time.”
  • I check in with my kids every half hour or so but I do leave them ALONE to complete a task. My husband and I are both home and still working (I’m a teacher myself of music and still doing lessons). The kids (9&7) are pretty focused for about 2 hours and then we break it up and circle back as best we can. Some days are harder than others!”
  • Their world had been turned upside down. Being close to us makes them fell more secure. I’m doing whatever it takes to get them through this as stress free for them as possible.”

2 comments

Bob Sanders April 3, 2020 at 7:03 am

Curious what parent think of Common Core now? I’m sure they’re all coming to the same conclusion, that’s it’s an awful method to educate our kids. The kids deserve better, and our educators are failing them.

David Bayne April 4, 2020 at 7:33 am

I think common core is excellent. It shows the kids several different ways to solve the same problem. This generation of kids will be much better at math than their parents. My elementary schoolers are tackling work that I didn’t see until highschool.

I’ve found it almost universally true that those parents who don’t like common core are not good at math themselves. I have nothing but good things to say about the education my kids are getting.

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