Learning at home. Wide variety of materials have been designed for parents to support their children

To begin, the P.E.I. Home and School Federation would like to extend our deepest condolences to our friends in Nova Scotia. We are thinking of the school community in Nova Scotia who lost an educator in this tragedy, Lisa McCully was a teacher at Debert Elementary School in Debert, N.S.

I hope everyone is doing well under these unprecedented times. Please continue to follow Dr. Morrison’s advice and look after each other.

The Federation would like to extend our deepest condolences to our board secretary, Haley Zavo, on the passing of her father, Paul Edward Batchilder.

P.E.I. is in week seven of school closures because of the COVID-19 health emergency. Our learning expectations for students have been adjusted and once your child returns to school, the Public Schools Branch has a plan to address learning gaps that have occurred because of COVID-19.  In the interim, home learning materials have been designed for parents to support our children.

Your child’s health and well-being are more important than completing a learning task. If you see signs of sadness or frustration, or your child is spending too much time on home learning, feel free to make adjustments. Encourage frequent opportunities to play and be creative. Provide regular physical activity and time away from screens/devices. Set routines and expectations for learning in your home. These depend on your family situation.

My family has a daily schedule for our children and operate on this routine, Monday to Friday. Every morning, my children work on reading, writing, math, art and science. After lunch, we have physical education outdoors. Sometimes this involves basketball or ball hockey in the driveway. If it’s rainy weather, there are children’s exercise classes on YouTube we follow along with. Our 12-year-old daughter has been teaching our 8-year-old son art (drawing, painting). Our daughter has been doing a lot of baking which covers math, science and the sense of taste. A routine seems to work in our household.

Taking something that is good for overall social, physical, emotional and mental well-being and turning it into something engaging and fun is an essential activity.  Visit  Kidsactivitiesblog.com for a collection of educational YouTube channels for kids, dozens of online field trips they can take to different parts of the world, and an exhaustive list of educational organizations offering free subscriptions as a result of school closures. 

How much time should students spend on home learning? The Department of Education and Lifelong Learning has identified the following minutes per grade level:

• Kindergarten – 30 minutes of learning activities
• Grades 1-3 – 45 minutes of literacy and numeracy
• Grades 4-6 – 60 minutes of literacy and numeracy
• Grades 7-9 – 90 minutes of literacy, numeracy, social studies and science
• Grades 10-12 – two hours of material for each course per week (cooperative education, practical math, and resource courses will be suspended until your child returns to school.)

Grade 12 students who were on track to graduate before the school closures will graduate, and students will be able to progress to the next grade level.  

School counsellors and psychologists are available for any student needing support. Students and their families feeling vulnerable and needing supports during school closures are asked to contact 902-369-5155 or supportforfamilies@edu.pe.ca.  Provide your name and contact information so someone can get back to you about the supports that are available. Kids Help Phone is also available 24/7. Call a counsellor: 1-800-668-6868.

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Cory Thomas, president of the P.E.I. Home and School Federation, lives in Summerside with his wife and two children, who both attend Elm Street Elementary School. His column appears in The Guardian during the school year on the first Friday of the month. He welcomes comments from readers and information for the column. He can be reached at peihsf.ca or 902-620-3186.