Ohio's Resource Guide to Support Families During School-Building Closure
As parents, family members or caregivers, supporting children during Ohio's ordered school-building closure brings new opportunities as well as unique challenges. Schools are adjusting to students learning at home — also known as remote learning. Now, more than ever, communication, supporting learning at home and connecting with the community are important for students and families.
The Ohio Department of Education recognizes the increased role parents, families and caregivers now play in students' education, and this can be a significant task as families balance multiple changes and challenges, along with their children's educational needs and progress. Between helping students with remote learning, working from home and taking care of other daily needs, parents, families and caregivers are juggling a lot. Parents and caregivers should continue to find ways to manage stress and make self-care part of their daily routines during this time.
Below are tips and resources to support learning, while making sure students stay safe and engaged.
COMMUNICATE WITH STUDENTS’ TEACHERS AND SCHOOLS.
- Local school districts are communicating in many ways to reach all families. Parents and caregivers can make lists of the ways to stay in touch with their students’ schools and teachers, whether by email, phone, app, newsletter or other means. They also should make sure their students’ schools have their current contact information.
- Understand how to best reach students’ teachers during Ohio’s ordered school-building closure. Parents and caregivers should create partnerships with their children’s teachers. Find out if teachers, including intervention specialists, are holding regular check-ins for students and their parents.
- Seek out important information. Parents and caregivers who have questions or need more information should reach out to their children’s teachers, principals, counselors or other school staff. They also should know and understand the district’s grading policy, as well as graduation, promotion and retention policies during Ohio’s ordered school-building closure. For more frequently asked questions, visit the Ohio Department of Education’s COVID-19 webpage.
- Know the options and ask about resources. If students are having difficulty completing assignments because they do not have access to the internet or computers, parents and caregivers should communicate with the students’ schools and teachers. A list of free or reduced-priced internet service providers is available here (pages 9-10).
- Connect with the school district on social media. Many school districts use Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter to get information out to families. Parents and caregivers should follow their local school districts’ accounts for up-to-date information.
- Ask for support. Some families and students may have specific needs during the ordered school-building closure. If a parent or caregiver is having difficulty understanding or communicating in English, he or she should request that the school provide interpretation or translation services. Parents and caregivers of students with individualized education programs (IEPs) or Section 504 plans should ensure there are open lines of communication with their students’ schools and intervention specialists about how to best assist with remote learning.
SUPPORT LEARNING AT HOME.
Create consistency for children while at home.
- Set at-home behavior expectations. Parents and caregivers who are familiar with the behavior expectations at their children’s schools should review these expectations with their children. What does each expectation mean? What do these expectations look like at home? Here is an example of a school district’s expectations.
- Create a positive behavior chart. Parents and caregivers can create behavior charts to show children the behavior expectations at home. Include “school time” as one of the columns in the behavior chart. Use Encouraging Positive Behaviors At Home – A Chart for Families as an example.
- Use positive praise. Praise children when they show appropriate behaviors. This includes efforts to work hard at following set directions.
- Create a routine. Parents and caregivers can make a daily schedule, and try to stick to it, so both parents and children know what to expect. Craft a calendar or checklist together to make it visual! Parents and caregivers should include time for themselves. When scheduling work time, have a plan for how to keep children occupied during that time.
- Stay energized! Establish regular breaks for movement and play. Get outside when possible. Have family talks that are not always focused on school. Engage in some fun conversations about topics of interest to both parents and children. Visit websites like GoNoodle for fun, active and engaging “brain breaks.”
- Take notice of students’ behavior. This time may be stressful for both children and families. If a child is showing signs of stress or anxiety, connect the child with supports to help him or her cope with fears. Visit this resource for more information on supporting children’s social, emotional and behavioral health. If a student is having trouble with schoolwork, feeling sad or scared about being away from friends and teachers, contact the student’s school and teacher for support.
- Anticipate challenges. To help anticipate challenges, look for triggers such as the time of day or a subject the student may find difficult and choose activities where he or she will experience success. Find more information on supporting children through challenges from Positive Behavior Supports: A Resource Collection.
Engage in students’ remote learning.
- Know the district’s approach to learning during ordered the school-building closure. Local schools across Ohio are being innovative as they support remote learning — every district is unique. Some schools are providing paper and pencil assignments to be picked up at common locations. Some teachers are using online methods to teach. Parents and caregivers of students with individualized education programs (IEP) or 504 plans should communicate with their children’s intervention specialists and discuss the teaching approaches and learning interventions their schools are using that can be done at home. Visit the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities website for family information regarding COVID –19.
- Ask students about their schedules. Many teachers are holding online classes. Parents and caregivers can help their students by knowing the times these are happening and the apps or websites being used. If the school is not providing online lessons, know where to pick up or access schoolwork.
- Help children stay on track. Parents should know how their children’s schoolwork is being turned in so their children can complete it and receive credit. Parents can create calendars of due dates to help their children plan ahead.
- Be creative. Learning can happen anywhere. During unstructured times of a family’s day, like meals, outdoor activity and play time, find opportunities to build in age-appropriate information and conversation. Visit the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center’s website for more ideas.
- Additional Resources. The Ohio Department of Education published a Remote Learning Resource Guide to connect families and educators with learning resources organized by subject area and grade level.
- Ask for help. If parents and caregivers are having trouble supporting their children’s learning, they should ask their students’ schools or teachers for help. Community organizations also are good sources of help. Connecting with other families over the phone or remotely also can be a positive way to get support. If possible, parents may need to talk with their employers about any flexibility they may allow while they are working from home and supporting their children with remote learning.
CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY.
To best support learning at home, the Ohio Department of Education wants to ensure each child and every family has access to the resources and services they need to be healthy and safe.
- Food Services. Free school meals still are being served across the state during the school-building closure. To find the nearest school meal site, visit this map.
- Local Health Departments. Local health departments protect and improve the health of communities by preventing and controlling the spread of disease and injury, as well as preparing for and responding to emergencies. Ohio has 113 public health departments that can assist families during COVID-19. To find a local health department, click here.
- Local Libraries. Ohio’s State Library System has many at-home learning resources on its webpage. To find the nearest library, click here and discover online access to books, videos, music and other supports.
- Housing Support. Parents and children experiencing housing instability during this time can visit the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio for more information and support.
- Community organizations, businesses and faith-based services. ;Ohio is in this together. To stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of& families and children, many local businesses and organizations are providing resources, services and necessary items. Connect with friends, neighbors and the local school to help identify these places in the community.