As a country and world, we are living through unprecedented times. We know families everywhere have been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis. Even in the midst of so much sorrow, there are programs and families across the country finding innovative and exciting ways to learn. The purpose of this page is to inspire others with ideas to serve families where they are by highlighting our partners' best practices. The opportunity to educate continues. We are all in this together.
The South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center created a weekly series of Educator and Family “Conversation Cafes” every Thursday and Friday to foster connections and virtual share sessions during school closures in April and May. These conversations allow educators and families to discuss how they are dealing with different aspects of COVID-19, and are creating a safe space for educators and families to have frank conversations while being supported by their peers. The Statewide Family Engagement Center began hosting a virtual chat for Spanish-speaking families as well.
Rachel Riggs, an ESL instructor at FCC, has been leading lots of virtual PACT Time® activities with her family literacy class during quarantine. While she has led some of the classes in a storytime format, others have been led by mothers or guests, who have volunteered to lead activities such as music lessons. Classes have taken place on Zoom or streamed live on Instagram or Facebook. In the picture to the left, Rachel’s class joined together on Zoom and watched a storytime that was uploaded to YouTube by her program’s Bookmobile librarian. She said it was wonderful for the kids to see a familiar face and sing some of their favorite songs from storytime.
The South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center also created a “COVID-19 Home Learning Daily Digest” of fun home learning activities and easy-to-use resources to support students’ learning. This short guide highlights quick and easy activities and free resources that families can use to engage their children in learning while they are home. The Daily Digests include virtual tours, ways to celebrate the day, physical activity ideas, online learning opportunities for students, and links to resources for parents and caregivers.
During the summer, families can look forward to the Weekly Digest, a full week’s worth of activities and resources to support home learning. Each week has a theme with fun activities, including math, reading, science, writing, and more! There is also the “Amazing World Tour” featuring different countries for students and families to learn together about the culture, geography and food. Click here to sign up for the Weekly Digest and find archived Digests.
At the Aberg Center for Literacy in Dallas, parents are using daily tasks to enhance their children's learning. It's never too early to work on life skills! Families are also demonstrating that physical distancing does not stop socializing. Celebrations continue via WhatsApp, as the youngest learners send birthday greetings to one another and mothers share gender reveals.
Speaking of digital connection, parents at Arizona State University PBS participated in a video conference via Zoom (left), while parents at Peralta Elementary, an Arizona Statewide Family Engagement Center (SFEC) site, also participated in a Parent Time Zoom call with their site coordinator and school principal last month.
NCFL’s Family and Child Education (FACE) team has been creating collaborative spaces using Zoom as well, where teachers from FACE program sites can connect, share ideas, and ask questions. Called “FACE to Face Collaboration Time,” the first virtual meeting brought preschool teachers together with adult education teachers before allowing the groups to split into separate calls moving forward. NCFL’s team follows the lead of teachers, who determine the topics for conversation, such as active learning ideas for parents of preschoolers.
The Dunseith Elementary FACE program in North Dakota is using Facebook to share daily instructional videos and maintain interpersonal contact. Staff are also hosting Zoom meetings with parents who have the appropriate technology and sharing online links to commonly used learning videos from YouTube. Click the adjacent photo to learn more.
We are encouraged and inspired by these programs and families who are striving to make the best out of a very difficult situation. We wish all of our partners and sites good health and the perseverance and strength to continue on.