Danbury Schools Shut Their Doors and Switch to Online Learning. Tips for Helping Your Children.

Distance learning began on March 30 and families wonder how to support it.

By Anne E. Mead, Ed. D. | Translated by Jamal Fox & Helayne Lillo

On Thursday, March 12, Danbury Public Schools closed all of the schools due to the COVID-19 virus. Students were notified that they wouldn’t be coming back on Friday and parents were notified through a ROBO call. Realizing that schools may be closed for a long period of time, Dr. Pascarella, the Superintendent of Schools, and his leadership began the hard work of designing online or distance learning, matching curricula to student needs, dispatching computers for students, training teachers and support staff, providing meals and providing resources for families.

Families shortly found themselves practicing social distancing and many households were full of entire families. Parents realized that online learning was a reality and coming their way. Many questioned how to support their student while trying to work from home with younger children underfoot. Distance learning is new to all of us. For students, it is a big learning curve, especially at the elementary level, and for the adults, it is an unfamiliar situation that takes time to master. Moreover, the school atmosphere is a social place for children. Minimized interactions with those outsides of their families have put extra stress on families: explaining to children to keep distance while parents are now becoming their teachers.

Distance learning began on March 30 and families wonder how to support it. First, have a family meeting to set a schedule. Children crave routines, so having it written is helpful to organize the day. A clock nearby can help a child self-monitor. For an example of a schedule, go to https://www.danbury.k12.ct.us/UserFiles/Servers/Server_539114/File/Sample%20Elementary%20Schedule%20(1).pdf.

Second, create a learning environment by securing a quiet space to set up the computer, put learning tools such as pencils, writing paper, calculators, erasers and scissors in a shoebox or plastic container and create activities for younger children.

Sitting in one place is often difficult for young children. Plan frequent breaks from the screen, in which your child can stand up, do a few jumping jacks, take a quick run outside, have a snack and make decisions about what to do next. Distance learning begins by 9:00 am and children must respond to the teacher’s question: “Are you present?” Each child is enrolled into their Google Classroom for instruction. For more information, go to https://sites.google.com/danbury.k12.ct.us/helpsitefordistancelearning/home.

To help your child manage the day, build in a lengthier playtime. Perhaps it can take place during a time when you, the working parent, must be on a conference call. Students are not expected to sit at the computer the entire day.

Read with your child daily and check your parent portal for messages from your child’s teacher: https://sites.google.com/danbury.k12.ct.us/helpsitefordistancelearning/home/powerschool.

Take advantage of free meals, for any child age 18 and under, distributed on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10-11:30 at Park Ave, Ellsworth Ave, Stadley Rough, Rogers Park Middle, Shelter Rock, Mill Ridge or Park Ave Schools. Take care of yourself and your family. We are in this all together and will get through it. Stay healthy and safe!!

Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or meadan@danbury.k12.ct.us.