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Children, Parents Adapting to Online Learning

Kindergartener Gabriella Narrish studies using her virtual classroom so she can see her teachers and fellow classmates from Our Lady of Peace School in Marshall County.

WHEELING — Parents are having to adapt as their kitchen or dining room has become their child’s classroom.

Online learning packs went out Monday through Schoology to students in Ohio County Schools, and parents are needing to discover the best ways to keep their children focused as their learning continues at home.

There also are concerns about students who don’t have access to broadband internet. Hard copy versions of assignments will be available to students today where they also can pick up free meal items. Meal distribution sites will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ohio County Board of Education member Sarah Koegler is both an educator and a mother of two boys in middle school and a pre-school daughter.

She has learned it is best for her sons to limit their time on their Chromebooks to half the day, and for them to spend the remainder of the day being active and learning things in non-conventional ways.

“It is not realistic for them to be on the computer eight hours a day,” she said. “We have found the optimum time is about four hours.”

When they are not on their Chromebooks doing traditional work, the Koegler sons — Campbell, 14, and William, 12 — are crafting a PowerPoint presentation about the family’s recent trip to India.

And they are finding ways to learn at home, Koegler said. William prepared a pasta dinner for the family, and they would never would have had time for a 12-year-old to experiment with cooking under normal times, she said.

“They seem to be adapting well, and not losing their mind,” she said. “I would suggest to a parent to not put pressure on yourself. Students are not going to learn at the rate they are learning at school.

For some assignments, they are going to need help. Making it stressful just makes it worse. Don’t stress them out too much. Learning won’t be normal. Have them learn something different at this time.”

Koegler knows of at least one parent who is asking their children to look for things that are broken in the house, find a YouTube video on how to repair it and fix it.

“It’s about how can we be creative, and do something different,” she said.

Many teachers are utilizing video conferencing technology to contact students, according to Koegler.

“Every day, one or both of my sons is conferencing with a teacher,” she said. “As parents, sometimes we get a message from the teacher telling us, ‘Your son didn’t finish this. Did he know about it?'”

While the use of technology has proven to be beneficial for continuing education during the current coronavirus crisis, there are still some students who may not have access.

Ohio County Schools surveyed parents earlier this month, asking how many students had broadband internet. About 3,000 families responded, and about 4 percent indicated their children would not have access to a computer device or the internet.

Some internet providers are offering service for free over the next two months as students use their computers at home. Ohio County students without internet have the option of picking up a hard copy version of their assignments at school meal sites in the county.

“It is true, where there are households with internet and parents at home, there are some kids who will be more engaged than others,” Koegler said. “That is not unique to us in Ohio County, but is true across the nation.”

Recheal Fuscardo, principal at St. Joseph the Worker Grade School in Weirton, said her teachers are even providing opportunities to take learning outside through virtual field trips to zoos, historical locations and museums to continue to enrich learning.

“Not only are we continuing to connect academically with our students, but we are connecting spiritually as well,” she said.

School Masses and Stations of the Cross are live streamed weekly on their Facebook page, Fuscardo said.

“Our school and teachers have been wonderful through all of this,” said Jenny Narrish of Marshall County, whose daughter Gabriella is a kindergartener at Our Lady of Peace School.

“Gabby is still learning the same as if she was in the classroom,” she said. “I love how they are coming up with ways to still pull us all together. I am extremely happy and very thankful with everything they are doing to help us.”

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