A couple of weeks ago, as I began to work on plans for our Back to School Bootcamp Blog I reached out to one of my dear friends, who is a teacher and a mama and asked her, "What questions would you have for back to school content experts?" Her questions were awesome, insightful, important, and HARD! Fortunately, my wonderful friend also knew how to answer them! Read on for some brilliant questions and answers from this super smart teacher mama, Lacy Cunningham, M.A.Ed.
For Virtual Students: What are some resources for parents looking to provide online students with safe enrichment opportunities?
Transitioning to online learning for the foreseeable future can certainly seem daunting for parents and students alike. If we learned anything in the Spring, it is that there is a strong need for enrichment for students of all ages and abilities. I like to look at enrichment as a philosophy of challenging learners to examine concepts that they already understand on a deeper level; that's where critical thinking and creativity can really take the wheel.
There are so many enrichment options available online, it can be overwhelming to navigate what is right for your student (not to mention your device's storage space). Below are my recommendations for a few top-rated apps for learners of multiple strengths and abilities.
- IXL: This app focuses on enrichment for the core subject areas (Math, English, Science and Social Studies). It's full of fun games and activities that teach PreK-12th graders to use the skills that they have in other capacities. IXL also features adaptive learning for students with disabilities. Younger students will love the rewards for each lesson mastered (virtual balloon animals and stickers, yes!) This one does come with a monthly or annual membership fee.
BrainPop: This one has it all; interactive and immersive activities for the four core subjects to Health & SEL and everywhere in between. The site/app also features a daily BrainPOP Topic that enrichment activities are centered around (ie: make a movie about sharks). How cool is that? Bonus: BrainPop Jr is available for lower elementary students. Double bonus: there's a free trial period.
Adventure Academy: Targeting early to mid-Elementary, this interactive app puts the player in the school of Adventure Academy! Students can unlock special accessories and access to areas of the Academy by mastering lessons from the four core subjects. Perfect for the young gamer who must reach the next level! This one also comes with a free trial period.
Looking for enrichment off of the screen? Studies have shown that playing Chess has big-time benefits for developing student's 21st Century skills. If enrichment for your student means (safely) engaging with other virtual learners in person, Homeschool Co-ops are having a moment right now! For more information on Co-ops in your area, check out thehomeschoolmom.com.
For In-Person Learners: How can parents operate as partners for educators in this new classroom?
Entering into the 2020-2021 school year is uncharted territory for all involved. Fortunately, education is an institution that is used to adapting to constant change. As we march forward through the "new normal", partnering with your student's classroom teacher is more important than ever. Ensuring that your family is in each teacher's corner starts with following the Three P's:
Practice: Make sure that your student is spending a few moments throughout the day properly wearing their face covering. The first day of school should not be their first experience with a mask. If possible, let your student "pick out" their mask or face covering...check for fit and comfortability.
The weeks leading up to school are a great time to practice social distancing within the home. Young students, in particular, can struggle with proximity and understanding how to keep a safe distance. Practice eating and independent play from a safe distance between siblings throughout the day. No siblings? A beloved stuffed animal can act as a great stand-in. The key is to introduce the new safety procedures that students will experience throughout the day prior to the first stroll down the hallway.
Patience: My daughter's first-grade teacher was a parent-communication all-star. Nothing brought more joy to my workday than to see an update on the SeeSaw app! I had the assurance that if a question or concern arose, I could send Ms. Teacher an email and receive a response before the end of the school day. These communications were among the pre-COVID luxuries that I do not anticipate or expect during the 2020-2021 school year.
Practicing patience in communication is going to be crucial this year. The amount of time that teachers will need to spend monitoring student interactions is going to be unprecedented; that means the time spent on emails and interactive apps will be at an all-time low. Our teachers' priority will be to keep the learning environment safe. Our role as partners should be to respect the amount of time and energy required to be a teacher in the "new" classroom, which means allowing additional time and understanding on receiving the answers to our burning questions.
Preparedness: School districts across the country that are forging ahead with in-person learning are sitting on a Plan B. As parents, we must also have a Plan B. If your student must return to virtual learning, start having those conversations sooner rather than later. If we learned anything from Spring, it is the importance of flexibility!
Wishing everyone a safe and healthy 2020-2021 school year!
Written by: Lacy Cunningham, M.A.Ed
Lacy Cunningham, M.A.Ed., is an educator and professional Teaching Artist. Lacy spent six years in the classroom, teaching English Language Arts and Theatre to middle and high school students. Lacy now works with various arts organizations around the Kansas City metro to develop and implement arts-integration curriculum for students K-12; her greatest passion is to help to develop a creative spark in youth of all ages.
When we feel overwhelmed or stressed, it can be tempting to tell ourselves (or each other!) Just relax, calm down! When we are stressed or freaking out, that is easier said than done. That’s why preparing a “coping tool kit,” a set of strategies for dealing with stress can be really powerful.
Do you freak out when you break out? I know I have! It is natural when we have a break-out to look in the mirror and think things like “These pimples are gross!” “I hate my skin!” “Things are never going to get any better!” Even though it is natural we think this way, it is harmful too.
Stop picking, popping, poking your pimples!
I know, it’s sort of like eating the whole bag of potato chips…we all know we aren’t supposed to do it, and yet, the temptation is SO STRONG! So…how do you stop?
Start with choosing an alternative activity!
We had so much fun at our first annual Heart + Sole Walk and Back To School Family festival! We want to thank all of our sponsors and everyone who came out to support our mission to make the world a more kind and understanding place for those with skin conditions.
As a Child Life Specialist working with teens and kids who have special skin, there is one question I get A LOT. “How do I talk to my teenager, when they tell me they don’t like how they look?” Parents are so worried that they will say the “wrong thing.” And truthfully, I have spent …
We had an amazing time celebrating the launch of our brand new SKIN DISCOVERY BOXES, a very special collaboration with our friends at CeraVe! CeraVe’s tireless pursuit of therapeutic skincare for all is truly more than skin deep and we couldn’t be more thankful. We celebrated in style thanks to our friends at Star Cinema …
A Children’s House for the Soul believes that it takes a village to support a child and family impacted by skin disease and birthmarks and that we are all better together.
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Our Family Trivia night was oh so much fun, and a huge success! We had so much fun getting to reconnect with all our friends and enjoy some laughs while snacking out on pizza and snowcones!
In honor of Vascular Birthmark Awareness Month, our childlife specialist Lindsay O’Sullivan had a great conversation with Jose about growing up with his special masterpiece skin!
In this interview, Ally shares about her experiences growing up with Ichthyosis. Ally shares how: Meeting other kids with special skin can help kids to feel less isolated and give them a very special sense of comradery and understanding. Parents don’t have to do everything perfectly to be the perfect parent for their child and …
What a wonderful time to relax, enjoy friendly company, and share their hearts on being a mama to a kiddo or teen with special skin. It was truly so special! These mamas were made a masterpiece!
Vascular birthmarks are very common in children. These birthmarks are made of blood vessels in the skin and can occur anywhere on the body. They may be pink or red in color, blue or purplish, flat or raised. Since they are vascular, sometimes they will feel warm to touch and may change in color with …
We have some exciting updates about our Capital Campaign! Learn about our short and long term plans for our own space.
You Can’t Teach What Has No History “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of …
In honor of Ectodermal Dysplasia Awareness month in February, we sat down with two of our dearest friends Zach and his mama Susan! Zach is an avid golfer, an Aggie, and is affected by Ectodermal Dysplasia. Susan and Zach teach us about ED and the importance of finding community. They also had helpful tips and …
Join us for a fun and inspiring interview with this incredible lady Ana Maria! Ana Maria Triana is 15 years old and the author of How to Conquer Alopecia Universalis. Ana Maria gives heartfelt advice, shares wisdom beyond her years, and will leave you feeling full of compassion and confidence. A Children’s House for the …
In honor of the upcoming National Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) Awareness week, we wanted to share this great piece from our friend, Rachael Wrobel about how her mama mothered her well, even despite the challenges of EB.
I am fortunate enough to be Mama to three little girls. Shortly after my eldest daughter’s first birthday (about 4 years ago) I noticed her hair was thinning. I was told by many it was just typical baby hair loss until it just couldn’t be described at “typical” any longer.
After the last several months of this pandemic, I think we are all well-versed in how important it is to wash our hands so that we don’t spread germs. But with all this hand washing and sanitizing, dry skin, eczema breakouts, and contact dermatitis have become even more troublesome. What can we do about it?