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MARICOPA — Cooper and Taylor Park start each morning with a flag-raising ceremony before settling in at the dining room table for another day of schoolwork.

With schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Maricopa seventh grader and fifth grader, respectively, are finishing out the school year with a learn-from-home curriculum.

“They rolled right into this work-from-home mode,” said their mom, Kim Park. “They’re doing great but they do miss their friends and their teachers.”

While area students adjust to at-home school routines, parents and guardians are juggling new challenges in ensuring that school work is completed at home and that schedules are maintained.

Park, an event planner for UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, is also working from home during the pandemic and said she’s grateful that she has the opportunity to be there to ensure her children are doing their school work.

“The first few days, they felt that summer vacation had started early, but now, after a few weeks, they realize they still have to do their school work but can’t see their friends and teachers,” she said.

Cooper and Taylor attend Legacy Traditional School, which normally starts its school day with an on-campus flag-raising ceremony followed by announcements. Since students are now working from home, the flag ceremony and announcements are online. Watching the ceremony every morning has helped Taylor and Cooper stay on task and feel as though they are maintaining a routine, even if they are sometimes in their pajamas for the morning event.

“The routine is the same as it was when they went to school every day,” Park said.

Maintaining a regular routine is key to the success of any learn-from-home scenario, educators say.

“Students depend on a routine, so parents should work with them to create a schedule that mimics a typical school day as much as possible,” said Diane Kalkowski, a teacher at Legacy Traditional School in Maricopa. “Students should wake up, get dressed and have breakfast at the normal time and establish a set schedule for classroom activities, recess, meals and snacks and even specials like music or PE.”

In the Casa Grande Elementary School District, where students come from various backgrounds and home environments, the learn-from-home curriculum was designed with the special needs of students in mind, said Mike Cruz, CGESD spokesman.

“The curriculum has been crafted to engage students and promote further learning while also providing an extension of learned content prior to school closures,” he said.

But while parents like Park are able to be at home with her children to ensure school work is being done, some students are on their own during the school day.

“This is why traditional classroom instruction is best as teachers can scaffold and meet the unique learning needs of their students. You lose a majority of this interaction in an online environment, and all of it for students with no access to internet and a computer,” Cruz said.

Teachers often reach out to students to keep them from falling behind.

“Some students will naturally be engaged and be an active participant in their at-home learning experience, while others may need more motivation, support and accountability,” he said. “This is why parental involvement is critical during the absence of their teacher. Parents can provide structure and accountability in the absence of teachers.”

He said the district is being proactive in maintaining communication with families to identify problems.

“Overall, our district has done a phenomenal job to transition to at-home learning to ensure our students obtain the best level of service and quality of education during school closures,” he said. “At the end of the day, teachers truly do amazing work to educate and provide for their students through their care, compassion and love for their students. Our teachers miss their students and are here for them should they need us while at home.”

Kalkowski offers the following learn-from-home tips for families struggling to keep students on task:

  • Set a detailed daily schedule and establish expectations for when assignments must be completed.
  • Make time for fun and break up traditional lesson plans with interactive online platforms such as

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and

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  • Create a designated workspace that is quiet, comfortable and free of distractions.
  • Don’t stress and remember that remote learning is temporary.
  • Ask teachers for help when necessary.

“Most parents are stepping into the role of co-teacher for the first time, and the transition can feel overwhelming,” Kalkowski said. “They should remember that they are not expected to know everything and certainly don’t have to go it alone. Teachers are there to help.”

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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