Aim Higher: The Achieve Blog

How Much Should You Be Involved?

School at home. We’re all doing it, to some degree or other, and I certainly know my kids and I have been through some ups and downs over the past few weeks. I thought I’d share a few of the challenges we’ve been through, and how we solved them…or not.

Today, I want to focus on my daughter and her class. She is a third grader and actually has more work assigned than she did in regular school. She struggles to get it all done. Her teacher, bless her, has been working hard to learn how to teach online, but assignments have been disjointed. It was hard to find assignments without clicking through multiple online resources that could only be accessed through one of two different LAUSD student accounts.

In an effort to help her build a bit more executive function, we tried going over her assignments every morning and explaining what she needed to do. Then we let her do it. Or not do it, as was the case. Within 30 minutes, she didn’t know what she should be working on. Assignments were incomplete or missing. It only took a day to realize that things weren’t going to work out with my daughter managing her own school schedule.

We weren’t alone, of course. In a Zoom parent meeting I hosted, several parents expressed the challenge of managing a third grader’s school work. But the single biggest complaint was how disjointed the assignments were, and how difficult it was for parents to find assignments efficiently so they could help their kids without clicking all over the internet or logging in using their kid’s computer. 

So I decided that I would try to solve the problem.

I made a one-page spreadsheet for weekly and daily assignments with concise assignment descriptions, made all of the assignments clickable links, added additional links to all online resources, and included directions for managing access to student accounts on parents’ computers. I then sent a copy to the teacher and walked her through updating it every week and sending it out as a pdf. She was thrilled, parents are much happier, and most importantly, my daughter and her classmates have a clear daily assignment list with clickable links to everything. It’s not perfect, but it certainly helps.

So what is the takeaway here? Twofold, I think. First, every kid needs to be dealt with at their own level. My daughter needs much more hand-holding than my son, and that’s okay (even though it takes a lot more of my time). We now spend a few minutes with her before and during every different assignment and are slowly and deliberately teaching her to manage her own time one step at a time. Second, organizing is crucial for everyone. If people know what to do and when to do it—when they have easy, central access to the resources they need—everything goes more smoothly.

Now if only I could get the kids to stop throwing wet towels on the floor.

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