Here at Reaching Higher NH, we’re learning how to cope with our “new normal”: working from home, while also learning how to step in to support our kids’ remote learning. 

It’s a learning curve for all of us. With so many families in a similar situation, we thought it would be a good idea to share what’s happening in our own homes. How have our lives changed? What does life look like for us now? How have our children’s schools supported us in supporting our child? 

Today, we hear from Nicole Heimarck, the Director of the NH Alliance for College and Career Readiness. Here is her story:

The Heimarck household consists of 6 family members – Mom, Dad, two daughters, a beloved dog named Oliver along with a guinea pig affectionately called “Winnie” after Winnie the Pooh.  The girls are 9 and 13, enrolled in public schools as a 4th and 7th grader. Both girls enjoy school and are active participants in both organized and free play activities. Similar to so many families this shift to 3-weeks at home and remote learning is impacting our typical family dynamic.  All 4 family members are learning and working remotely under the roof of our home as our places of employment have shifted to virtual work as well. This is a unique adventure, learning and working side by side within the walls of our home. Once this experience is over we will likely know more about one another than ever before.

As a former educator and curriculum developer supporting the girl’s learning is an area of comfort.  One of the biggest challenges we all face is the transition of the care-taker to the role of the constant educator.  Honestly, I do not know how receptive my children will be to my increased involvement in their learning paths. As a mom, and educator this causes me pause as I contemplate my role and how I will exercise my professional and personal voice in their learning over the next three weeks.  

As an educator, I do understand the critical impact student voice and choice plays in student engagement.  As I work to develop tasks that supplement what school provides I will be certain to offer my children ample opportunity to select topics they are deeply passionate about. In fact, I see this as a great opportunity for all families in encouraging children to pursue the exploration of a topic they have always wanted to learn about.  With a little structure and guidance students can soar.  

A few resources have been linked in this post that are easily adaptable to home learning environments and family conversations that will elevate student ownership of their learning during these unconventional times.  

In addition to motivating the girls to identify topics of deep interest I have also asked them to journal each day.  Simple daily writing exercises are a great way to keep skills sharp and in a routine. Families can make this as structured or unstructured as they desire.  In our home, we have decided to pursue a route that is less structured asking the girls to write personal reflections of each day, what are they hearing in the news and their own feelings about what they hear, the challenges to learning at home along with the opportunities and joys.  This gives them a moment to express feelings, process unpredictable times in a kid-centric manner, as well as practice written communication skills and the art of expression. Like all families, we will modify and adapt these ideas as needed.  

Patience, the willingness to change course, expressions of gratitude, and thinking of others before ourselves will be practices that guide our new normal. Most importantly, our family wishes health and happiness to all of you as we adjust and raise resilient children in an ever-changing world.

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