With Children Living Through History, Have Them Write About It

At the Jackson house, schooling during social distancing comes with an extra writing/ history assignment: keeping a journal.

“We are experiencing history, and this time will be talked about for generations,” Martha Jackson said. “It will be nice to keep a record that can be passed down to family members to share their perspective on what it was like. I encourage them to include photos, articles, and their own thoughts and experiences.”

Jackson and Nellie Sciutto, co-hosts of the Bubble Lounge podcast for other Park Cities moms, shared their tips for distance learning during the spread of COVID-19.

Both favor designated spaces for school work.

“This time will be talked about for generations. It will be nice to keep a record that can be passed down to family members to share their perspective on what it was like.” -Martha Jackson

Alexis Jackson, freshman, and Blake Jackson, fifth grade.

“I think it’s important to separate school from your personal time, so I prefer they work in the kitchen,” said Jackson, mom to two, ages 15 and 11. “Setting up structure is key to a successful day.”

At the Sciutto house, the dining room has become the classroom.

“That way, when school is over, or it is lunch break, going to their usual desk to do homework, or going outside for lunch means that you are leaving class, even if you’re only going a few feet away,” she said.

Taking breaks and getting exercise are also important, they said.

“We start the day with a run, which we call PE,” Jackson said. “Sometimes they jump on the trampoline or walk the dog, but we always work in some type of exercise for at least 30 minutes. Then we come home and log in to see what the day’s lessons are.

“The kids work independently on their assignments, and my husband and I go to our respective computers located at different ends of the house and work,” Jackson said. “If they are struggling with an assignment, it is important to let them take a break… That seems to help clear their mind, and then we get back to what they were working on.”

Sciutto also has found breaks necessary for both children and adults.

“I do have some work online as well, so I can get exhausted at the end of the day prior to homework. And my son can get exhausted, too. We cannot discount the emotional toll that this takes on our kids,” she said.

Setting realistic expectations also is vital. “At first, I felt the pressure to recreate a seven-hour school day, but quickly realized that was not realistic,” Jackson said. “There is a reason I’m not a teacher.”

Sciutto said she’s learning to teach to her son’s needs.

“We had to switch to online tutoring, but really, we had to scale it back for two reasons: 1) Online tutoring is not the same as one-on-one tutoring. 2) For learning-difference children, the tactile is important. That is why they have smaller classrooms and more one-on-one teaching/tutoring available,” she said. “What I am learning now is how to teach to my son’s learning difference. Naturally, I am no teacher, and I am certainly no learning difference teacher, but now I can see how he learns.”

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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