Distance Learning for Parents, Not Just For The Kids

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(Markus Winkler/Unsplash, Photographer)
Orinda parents are taking online Zoom sessions offered through the Orinda Union School District, courses to help them navigate the new-normal of distance education for their kids and themselves as well.

    Orinda students of all ages are back to school using distance learning; however, this academic school year has found adults heading back to school as well – through educational sessions called Online Parents University.
    Offered free by the Orinda Union School District (OUSD), parents and guardians now have a learning curve before them when it comes to distance learning for their students and for themselves.
    The hour-long educational Zoom sessions included classes on how parents could navigate OUSD’s distance learning platforms with their student, strategies for helping their children have successful distance learning experiences and ways of keeping their kids engaged.
    “The Orinda USD Online Parent University is working incredibly well to date,” said Dr. Carolyn Seaton, Superintendent of Schools, OUSD. “We have had between 35-50 participants in each session.”
    She said the parents and guardians of Orinda students have shown appreciation with these learning opportunities available to them.
    Since the sessions were asynchronous through Zoom on various dates throughout September (with more sessions in following months as needed), Seaton’s staff kept in mind those who couldn’t make specific session dates. “I have received specific praise that the sessions have been recorded so they can be accessed later in the event of calendar conflicts or wanting to repeat a session,” said Seaton.
    Parent Kendall Glynn of Orinda, who has a nine-year-old son in the fourth grade at Glorietta Elementary, took two of the sessions: how to navigate distance-learning platforms, and how to keep her son engaged, using positive reinforcement and other strategies. “They were both really insightful,” said Glynn. “The OUSD IT team did an excellent job providing an overview of the platforms being used by the teachers.”
    “They spent a considerable amount of time going over how the teachers would be using Google Classroom, which was really helpful,” she added. “There are several ways to use Google Classroom and understanding the way in which the teachers are posting and tracking assignments has helped me more effectively manage my fourth grader.”
    Glynn works both in and out of the home as a certified genetic counselor, and as co-founder and COO of Square Baby, a subscription-based organic baby food delivery service.
    She said it’s important parents model what is expected of their kids, whether it’s time management or positive attitudes: “I think we also need to remember that if our kids come through this extremely challenging time having learned flexibility, patience and resilience, then we can consider our efforts a success.”
    She also feels using the resources offered by the school district is key: “It is easy to tune out a little bit because we all are overloaded right now, but I am so thankful that OUSD is offering this parent education series.” She added, “The topics covered so far have been extremely valuable and have helped our family so much.”
    Local cable and Wifi service providers are helping during COVID-19 to help students as well. Xfinity sent out email and print notifications about its Internet Essentials program, known as the nation’s largest low-income Internet adoption program which helps connect millions of families to the Internet.
    It’s offering 60 days of free Internet service to new Internet Essentials customers and recently launched the Internet Essentials Partnership Program to provide the opportunity for school districts and other organizations to connect quickly large numbers of students and families to broadband access at home. Visit internetessentials.com for more information.
    AT&T is doing the same – providing affordable Internet for distance learning through a program called Access from AT&T. The program provides home Internet access to qualifying California households with at least one resident who receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for $10 a month. More information can be found by visiting att.com/access or by calling 855-220-5211.
    Seaton is thankful to the many Orinda USD teachers, specialists, administrators and parents who have worked hard to create and deliver these sessions for the parents and guardians of Orinda’s students. “It is commendable that our presenters have shared their expertise to help our students’ parents and guardians navigate distance online learning,” she said, “in order to better support their children.”
    Other sessions offered by the school district addressed habits to bring peace to your home; finding balance and calm in our COVID world and discovering self-care and compassion for you, your child and your family.
    Glynn said she’s “extremely grateful to everyone at OUSD for all their efforts and hard work under extremely difficult and trying times.”
    For more information, visit orindaschools.org.

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