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A Dad’s Guide to an unexpected break

Like everyone, my daughters’ school is closed indefinitely.

I work at home and my kids are at mostly autonomous ages now, so I have it easier than most. At the same time, the realities of avoiding sibling fighting, constant interruptions, and the fact I’d like to facilitate fun and authentic learning led me to think about some organization and structure for the next few weeks. Seeing this made me laugh…

Now, I’m not a fan of traditional sit and get learning (especially for a 6, 9 and 12 year old) AND I’m a big proponent of self-agency in learning, so I hate the idea of my kids having to be spoon-fed every little thing. Beyond the fact it makes my life easier, I think spoon-feeding older kids is counter to the life they will experience after school. And I believe when adults do the learning TO kids, it insidiously creates forever dependency and less than resourceful creatures. #endrant

So, what’s a dad to do? Each of my daughters has an iPad mini and 2 of them have Chrome books home from their school (I appreciate the privileged-ness of that sentence).

… I like some of the ideas of the calendar meme above — both the ideal version and the Day 4+ version…

… I like to find collaborative games we can play as a family, even if on a screen.

… I like the opportunity to double down on chores and allowance through RoosterMoney 
 (Sorry Alfie! FWIW- I use it more for the budgeting aspect as it teaches more than the reward part 😅)

… I also have access to Headrush — an agile learning management platform.

But first, channeling my Simon Sinek, I’m starting with the why and essence…

I setup my 3 kids with their own Headrush account and made me the advisor. I decided to start with essentially two modules/projects — one of them I would set-up and the other I’d have each of them set-up, propose, and manage. I hemmed and hawed over if I should have more “projects,” but ended up deciding on this since it seemed easiest to manage AND could easily evolve as we went.

First, I set-up my project. I used the overview/plan more as a grounding spot for me than anything else. I titled it “SpaceTeam Dashboard” (a playful nod to a fun game my kids and I have played). I reiterated some of the whys and was playful with some of the expectations:

I then created a task board with some themes of activity I’d like to manage:

My thought is I can have them attach images/videos, log time or reflect on these as they do them. Some will be one and done, whereas other tasks may be multiples — practice multiplication tables. I don’t want attaching things to get in the way of the doing, but I like the idea of being able to see from a high-level who has done what and quickly look at it. Likewise, it will be something they can see/celebrate as they go.

Beyond what I’m attempting to curate, I told my girls they needed to have a project of their own interest… learn a new skill, do some research, create a craft, do some design/art.

My 12 year-old likes time-lapse videos and so she wanted to make more of a longer-form of that… learning existing tools she knows in new ways and creating something interesting to share with her friends.

My 9 year-old loves history and wants to go to New York City for her 10th birthday, so she’s creating a find and search game with a laminated map of NYC I bought her.

My 6 year old… well, I’m working on that ;-)

Admittingly, these are the early days of our new learning-at-home normal and my goal is less to create some amazing new thing as it is to keep them interested, having fun, and using it as an excuse to coach some project management.

Would love to hear how you are managing things in this unique place and time?! Any of your schools thinking about working with parents in this kind of way vs blasting out links?

Wed Mar 18, 2020
by Shane Krukowski
school closures online learning ideas examples COVID-19
696 Words

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