Avoiding learning overload for kids during COVID-19 school closures


York University experts available to discuss how parents can survive March Break  

TORONTO, March 19, 2020 – Parents should avoid intense teaching sessions with their children who are at home on an extended March Break due to the COVID-19 global pandemic that shut down schools.

That's the advice of two York University educators who are urging parents of elementary school children to find a balance between allowing their kids to enjoy quality time with their families and incorporating some learning into their daily lives.

It's normal for kids to cherish their March Break, as they should, so it’s important for parents to resist the temptation to start boot-camp-style lessons at the dinner table and add more stress to an already stressful situation.

York’s experts are available to explain the best ways for parents to infuse light learning into their kids’ routine and survive March Break together.

John Ippolito is an associate professor in the Faculty of Education who develops programs in public elementary schools, based in the Greater Toronto Area, that foster dialogue between families and schools and within families themselves. Ippolito has led research on how to keep the lines of communication open between children and their parents.

He can share tips to incorporate some learning and survive the break, including:

  • Encourage kids to be inquisitive, share their questions and observations, and meet them where they are in their learning, instead of where you think they should be
  • Remind them that they have time to catch up on their school assignments or homework
  • Encourage children to explore non-school projects
  • Allow kids to keep in touch with their friends online

Tina Rapke is an associate professor in the Faculty of Education who teaches mathematics education courses to current and prospective teachers. Rapke has conducted extensive research on strategies to enhance the learning and teaching of mathematics, and also leads a program in a GTA-based school to address parental concerns about math education and develop practical strategies to help students learn basic arithmetic.

She can share tips to incorporate some learning and survive the break, including:

  • Slow down and enjoy time with their children, and connect with them by listening
  • Play board games and write stories together
  • Play short math games and do mental math together. Talk about time (e.g. how long kids are off from school compared to summer break), and ask kids to do additions in their head (e.g. find all the ways to solve 12+13), practice division (e.g. share candies equally) and group objects in 5s and 10s.

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York U's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

Media Contact: Vanessa Thompson, York University Media Relations, 647-654-9452, vthomps@yorku.ca