School Support March: Enriching Our Children’s Minds Amidst Social Distancing

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By Emily Milgrim

Schools and universities are shutting down all over the globe due to the Coronavirus pandemic. There is no question that there will be plenty of down time for children and families during this time. As of now, many schools, including the PWUFSD, do not have remote schooling in place for their children. With all of this downtime and little “traditional” learning available for students, it is important that kids partake in educational enrichment during this indefinite epidemic. Here are some suggestions for students ages K-12 to boost their brains and continue their education paths.

1. Plain old reading is the best way to engage and enrich kids of all ages. Sure, it may be harder to get an elementary aged kid to voluntarily read a historical nonfiction book instead of a flashy comic book, but reading something is better than nothing. In fact, when addressing the significance of reading comic books, Jennifer Marshall of the International Literacy Association stated, “For my students who struggle with vocabulary, these images offer visual clues to help decode new words. To fully understand the storyline, you need both the words and the pictures. If you are only reading the words or only looking at the pictures, you are missing half of the story. Enforcing “DEAR” (Drop Everything And Read) time in your household, even if it’s just 20 minutes, each day stuck at home will have great value. Reading everyday “exercises” the brain and activates it in an academic sense, so with a lack of school, this activity can be extremely beneficial to brain development and learning at home. For younger kids, parents or older siblings should read to them as well. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Parents who spend time reading to their children create nurturing relationships, which is important for a child’s cognitive, language and social-emotional development.”

2. Online enrichment games are a great way to mix learning and fun as well. Websites, such as Brainpop, National Geographic, Cool Math Games and more offer free plans to play educational games or watch enrichment videos. Mixing technology with learning is a great way to entice younger audiences of students to learn while they are stuck at home. Many other websites and apps offer more straightforward “lesson” type videos, such as Khan Academy, but this can be harder to grasp a younger kid’s full attention. Not only do educational games grasp student’s of all ages attention, but it also improves other skills such as hand eye coordination and computer fluency.

3. For high school students, it may be harder to implement “enrichment activities” at home because they will most likely have learning materials at home or papers and assignments due in the future. However, many older students can find it difficult to motivate themselves to continue assignments at home. A suggestion for overcoming this roadblock is to read the research book or review book for short periods each day. Also, setting up a designated time or set schedule to do these lengthy projects or homeworks can help keep older students on track and learning.

—Emily Milgrim is a student at Schreiber High School

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