Olga Dolgopolova and Lauren Tanner are 7th grade teachers at Wheeler Middle school where they promote inquiry-based approach learning styles in order to ignite curiosity to transform students into active explorers. We had the opportunity to hear from them and get advice about managing distance learning while working from home. 


They focused on 3 main objectives which included:

  1. How to create structure for your daily routine

  2. How to be efficient and effective with your days 

  3. How to create a positive environment at home


Structure

Olga and Lauren expressed the importance of keeping a structure in your daily routine and at your home in order to provide the most effective environment for success. Regarding workspaces, they recommend creating a spot in the house that can be used for only school activities. They understand space is limited, especially in Hawaii, so they recommend finding ways to make it feel unique. This can even be a sign with a kids name on it, or a folder that separates one part of the table from everything else. They advocate parents have their own separate space so the kids understand that they are working and shouldnt be interrupted. With this, they recommend making sure to keep the area clean and clutter free in order to keep your kids as focused as possible. 


Keeping a daily routine


Within structure Olga and Lauren recommend keeping a daily routine that most people in your house can adhere to. This includes waking up and eating meals at specific times to keep your child's circadian rhythm similar to that of school allowing them to be the most productive when mimicking this schedule. Along with daily routines should come daily planning. They recommend setting daily goals for everyone in the family in order to encourage and motivate getting tasks done. This can include not only educational or work goals but group fitness goals.


Their key takeaways and tips include:

  1. Stick to normal routine bedtime and mealtime.

  2. Don’t keep the news playing as younger kids may get overwhelmed and stressed seeing things they do not fully understand. If you want to keep them informed, Olga and Lauren recommend CNN10, a website that has daily news in under 10 minutes. 

  3. Keep screen time as positive and helpful as possible. While computers are needed to do school work make sure to have breaks and instead focus on engaging outdoor or non screen related activities. 


Flow


Once the structures are in place the next step is to focus on flow. This should come naturally after enough exposure to routine. Lauren and Olga explained how children's attention span has decreased dramatically in the last decade as technology becomes a more prevalent tool in our life and recommend the pomodoro technique to keep your kids as focused as possible. This technique has been proven effective and should be followed in order to get the best possible results when doing school work. A quick breakdown of the technique includes identifying tasks that need to be done and then setting a timer for 25 minutes and focusing purley on that individual task. Once that 25 minutes is up, a 5 minute break must be taken completely unrelated to the task at hand. Once the 5 minutes is up another 25 minutes should be spent focusing on the task. This should go on for 4 rounds and on the 4th break a longer break should be taken. It is recommended the last break be 25-30 minutes and should include movement of some sort and eating something. Another recommendation Olga and Lauren have is to maintain routine productivity checks for everyone in the household to make sure everyone is motivated.


Results


Once the structure and flow are mastered you should start seeing results. Humans are motivated by results which is why often goals are measured in terms of results. Olga and Lauren recommend creating objectives with end results in order to keep everyone motivated. This can include little things like answering an email or doing dishes to bigger results like paying bills or submitting final projects. With this, motivation and productivity should increase.


Rewards


With results should come rewards. Many studies have shown that humans react more positively to tasks when they know they will be rewarded and with this comes the spike in productivity. Once rewards are expected these tasks become routine and become natural. Olga and Lauren recommend having rewards for both you and your kids in order to positively reinforce them. For some people it could be sweets for others it could be an extra hour of screen time but have it be something that needs to be worked for and not as easily obtained. This will encourage your kids to complete the tasks at hand and be more successful.


Q&A


When asked about feedback from parents, Olga and Lauren said that the parents that were the most successful were the ones who followed the structure the closest. Having a schedule and goals have helped families be more productive as a whole. Some struggles parents are having are distance learning with kids of multiple ages and Olga and Lauren recommend again to create a set schedule where you can focus on each task individually. They also emphasize viewing your kids as more of an asset rather than a burden in the house and creating a positive environment at home will spread to having a positive school and work environment as well. 


Spark and Inspire


Olga and Lauren are working with their school to create initiatives to connect students from local and military populations to improve areas of their community. Students will learn from each other and deepen their connection to the HĀ framework. To learn more visit their facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/events/182874336387629/ or listen to their podcast: https://podcasts.google.com/feed=aHR0cDovL2ZlZWRzLnNvdW5kY2xvdWQuY29tL3VzZXJzL3NvdW5kY2xvdWQ6dXNlcnM6NTE4NDM5NDA4L3NvdW5kcy5yc3M&episode=dGFnOnNvdW5kY2xvdWQsMjAxMDp0cmFja3MvNzk1NzkxMDY1&hl=en&ved=2ahUKEwiCsPq1gOnoAhUGup4KHbFBB48QjrkEegQICxAE&ep=6




Some Helpful Links:


Best Practices for Planning :

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/Pages/Working-and-Learning-from-Home-During-the-COVID-19-Outbreak.aspx


Printable Daily Planner page:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lx-UuBaB2JkfpIDaMNyLbNVLv-kNfen3rENgS4GgqQo/edit?usp=sharing 


Student schedule:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iLAO296ledYoDiUjG4czLFWS1Pymai4JkD62SsfbYzA/edit?usp=sharing 

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