Dear Gateway families,
I’ll begin first by thanking you and then with a request. The appreciation; thank you for all you are doing to support distance learning at home. We could not do it without you, and we greatly appreciate the involvement you are having to support your child’s learning. Now for the request: if you haven’t had a moment to thank a Gateway teacher yet, please do so! Your notes mean a great deal and fill them up in a unique and sustaining way. Our quick pivot to distance learning last week simply could not have been accomplished without extraordinary effort on their part.
Our distance learning program is built on a few key principles.
First, we know that flexibility is essential. Whether dealing with new technology, managing around working parents and other children, or simply feeling all the feelings that come from experiencing this unusual time, we know that children need their adults to be especially flexible right now.
Second, we are prioritizing relationships and mental health over curriculum and content. Our school puts heart-centered connection at the core of our program, and that doesn’t change when we move to a distance learning model.
And third, we believe it is better to start slowly and ramp up the academic work over time than to start fast and have to dial back in the face of overwhelm. This is especially true when so many people are already feeling fragile and anxious due to the public health situation.
Similarly, we hope you can pay attention to three key areas as you support the implementation of the distance learning model at home.
First, be intentional about setting up your child’s work area; a discrete space for learning, with a comfortable seat at a table or desk, is best for students (not lying on the floor or across their bed). This includes setting up expectations around online and digital health and safety.
Second, especially if you are also working at home, have a clear area or way of indicating to your children when you are “at work”, and teach them how they can ask for your attention appropriately without interrupting your flow.
And third, be ready and open to new energy influencing your family dynamics, the role each person in the family plays in contributing to the life of the home, and the possibility of changing some of those patterns and ways of relating.
In this time of stress and anxiety, it’s important that we all practice good self-care. Whether it’s lowering the parenting bar or making sure you get enough exercise, engaging in self-care not only helps us stay calm and centered for our children, it models for them how to do the same for themselves.
Right now there are many unknowns about how life will change over the next several months. We don’t know if the spread of the virus will be slowed down, how the economy will respond to the shocks it is experiencing, or when we will be able to resume on-campus education. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and engage in continuous planning that enables us to be responsive to shifting conditions.
What we do know is that we’ve got this, and so do you. To paraphrase the 1963 hit by Gerry & The Pacemakers, you don’t have to walk this path alone. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions, need help, or just want to talk.
Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School