SOMERSET, NJ - As Franklin Township Public Schools officially transition to its newly developed Remote Learning Plan this Thursday amid the global health crisis, Franklin families will need to look at education through an entirely different lens. To that end, TAPinto will tap different professionals for advice on how to navigate through these challenging.

The first person we spoke to was Stacey Reiber. 

Reiber has been an elementary school teacher for 20 years and is a mother of three. Outside of school, she helps families connect, simplify, and focus through her business, The Family Keystone. Her company guides families in writing custom mission statements. They also offer practical parenting tips and simple ideas to create a happier home. Learn more at www.thefamilykeystone.com

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Read below for a Q&A with Reiber. 

TAPinto: How can a parent best prepare their home to accommodate remote learning?

Reiber: One of the best ways you can prepare your children for learning at home is to set both a daily schedule and physical location where learning can happen. Children of any age thrive on structure and routine. Thinking ahead as a family to how you will approach each day is going to be very important. Many families are juggling parents working from home along with multiple children of varying ages and needs. In our home we thought about where each child and adult could work and the times that would accommodate everyone’s schedules. Some schools are giving specific timelines for learning and others are not. Either way, a schedule for your child is going to be very important. I would also consider scheduling the remainder of the day beyond the remote learning time. We live in a culture where children are used to being shuttled from activity to activity. Think about how they can keep on a schedule at home with activities and tasks/chores. It can be simple things such as, “prepare dinner, set the table, etc.” or “play outside.” But a routine helps children feel safe and keeps everyone at home a little saner. 

Within this routine, it is important to make sure you are building in time for conversation and connection. This is essential for language development. All those questions kids have and stories they want to tell are important to make time for. Take advantage of the slower pace and use the time to really connect. 

TAPinto: Is there a checklist parents could use to start each day of homeschooling?

Reiber: A checklist is helpful for any type of routine. Checklists promote independence and responsibility - two skills teachers are constantly working on. Children love to feel self-sufficient and checklists help with that. Involve your child or children in the process of making the checklist and they will value it even more. 

TAPinto: What are some of the questions one should ask teachers to help with homeschooling?

Reiber: I think that parents should make sure they know what their child’s school expects of them. Any questions surrounding the requirements would be important. This way you can work with your child to make sure you complete what is essential. 

TAPinto: What are some ways parents could ensure their children keep active at home? Any suggestions on games to play?

I am a huge fan of having my 4th graders solve jigsaw puzzles. The benefits associated with solving puzzles are numerous! Right now one of the main benefits would be the relaxation factor. Focusing on something else allows you to take your mind off stressful thoughts. Not to mention the problem-solving, critical thinking, and logical reasoning needed.  

Any board game or card game will help to improve concentration, memory, patience, and perseverance - all skills that help children be ready to learn.

But don’t overthink it. Authentic activities are the most valuable. Allow your children to play and research the topics they are most interested in. Then build activities around that. 

Make sure to allow for boredom and some unstructured time in the day. This is a “perk” of the unique situation we are in right now. Kids don’t get enough of learning how to figure things out for themselves, including what to do when they are bored. Don’t be afraid to let them be.

TAPinto: What type of television programs do you think would be good to help with learning at home?

Reiber: I think the best program is the one you watch with your kids because you can have conversations around it. However, I have three kids and I work full time so I know this is not always possible. You have to be realistic in what to expect from your days. If you need to use tv as a break for yourself then do it.

There are some excellent options for shows that would enhance learning. One idea is to have your child read a book that is also a movie. It can be motivating to finish a book in order to watch the movie. There are so many historical fiction series and movies that teach in an entertaining way. For example, Liberty’s Kids can be found on YouTube and follows the events of the Revolutionary War.

TAPinto: How was this new process even considered? 

Reiber: All school districts had to submit a health related emergency preparedness plan to the state. In their plan they had to consider what would best meet the needs of their students. Some districts are utilizing technology for daily contact and remote learning and others are provided the work and are asking it be brought in when the children return to school. Many teachers are available online for their students.