Posts Tagged ‘grandkids’

Grandparents Stepping Up to Assist Grandchildren with Virtual Education

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

 

Dr. Charisse Smith

As a young child growing up in New Jersey, I recall spending countless summers in the sandy woods of Wall Township with my maternal grandmother, Carolyn Holland.

On her screened-in porch, we spent hours playing such card games as Pitty Pat, War and Casino. This card shark, with less than an eighth-grade education, showed me no mercy, winning game after game! Through these card games, she fortuitously taught me how to quickly identify numbered groups (subitizing*) and strategy (critical thinking).

My paternal grandfather, Robert E. West of Neptune, instructed me in the art of applying the correct tip for great service at the local Perkins Pancake House. Maternal aunt Doris Sergeant of Asbury Park cultivated my love of reading and storytelling through her reading aloud. Her fluctuating animated voice magically fit each and every character of the stories she read.

As I reminisce about these special moments as a wide-eyed, inquisitive youngster, I now appreciate them as authentic learning experiences. I truly cannot recall specific reading or math lessons or feeling that these moments were “school,” but as an educator, I recognize that the benefits of simple card games and stories read to me set me on the path toward academic success.

Although I assist teachers in applying curriculum and best-teaching practices to classrooms, the simple games, conversations and nightly read-alouds with Carolyn, Robert and Doris were invaluable.

COVID-19 and virtual teaching/learning

According to the New Jersey Department of Education, there are approximately 2,734,950 students in New Jersey’s public and charter schools who are now participating in some form of virtual or remote learning due to the COVID-19 crisis. Many New Jersey schools pivoted from photocopied worksheets and packets to working exclusively online with students in virtual classrooms.

In a matter of a few weeks, New Jersey school districts found themselves quickly gathering their troops of learning experts, teachers and educational technology departments to provide quality learning opportunities for all of their students. Families also found themselves banding together to navigate through digital learning platforms like Zoom, Google Classroom, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, Class Dojo, Canvas and Blackboard.

Older Americans are teaching/learning, too

Older Americans also fearlessly accepted the call to join the ranks of the virtual homeschooling faculty. Because many parents continue to work as essential workers, older adult family members have been designated as the at-home schoolteacher. These older family members are ensuring that children are logging on, participating and completing school assignments.

One example is a 68-year-old grandmother in Mercer County’s Hamilton Township, Mrs. Jones. She joined the ranks of homeschoolers this March. Mrs. Jones is not only caring for her ill husband, but by working in online learning platforms to assist her kindergarten-aged grandson, has expanded her technological skill set.

Through perseverance and a little bit of coaching, Mrs. Jones is now more comfortable helping her grandson with the daily requirements of cyber-learning such as logging on to online class meetings; monitoring reading, writing, and math assignments in Google Classroom; accessing books online; following up with emails, and communicating with teachers via the Class Dojo app.

Familiarizing oneself with multiple learning platforms can be overwhelming even for the most tech-savvy person. But older Americans, like Mrs. Jones, are courageously balancing the duties of being a caregiver for an ailing spouse, running a household and homeschooling an active kindergartener.

I admire Mrs. Jones for her tenacity and grit during this challenging time. She admits that working with technology is frustrating, and she felt like giving up, but I encouraged her to take care of herself and to do her best. Her best is amazing!

Other ways older adults can share knowledge/expertise

I encourage all older adults who are caring for and/or homeschooling young family members to share their knowledge and expertise by:

  • Having conversations
  • Counting and grouping the number of tiles on the floor
  • Finding a pattern in the carpet
    • *I mentioned subitizing before. Subitizing is a hot topic in math education circles. It means “instantly seeing how many.” Math educators have discovered that the ability to see numbers in patterns is the foundation of strong number sense. Visit https://mylearningspringboard.com/subitizing/
  • Following a recipe using measuring spoons and cups
  • Writing a song together and recording Tik-Tok videos of you singing
  • Coloring in coloring books
  • Listening to books on tape or online together
    • This website features videos of actors reading children’s books, alongside creatively produced illustrations. Activity guides are available for each book. https://www.storylineonline.net/
  • Teaching them how to play a card game

Other resources to use

Older adults have much to give and young people, much to receive! I would dare to guess that there are many Mrs. Joneses here in New Jersey. Are you one? You deserve our gratitude, respect and support.

As a New Jersey educator, I would like to thank all of the caring and brave older Americans in our state who are committed to sharing their knowledge, wisdom, love and expertise to help our students continue to grow and learn!

Dr. Smith is the featured guest on Episode 106 of Aging Insights, with host Melissa Chalker — watch “Learning Together” now!

Dr. Charisse Smith of Trenton earned a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Professional Studies. She serves on the boards of New Jersey Foundation for Aging and Notre Dame High School, is an Instructional Coach with the Hamilton Township Public Schools, President of ETE-Excellence Through Education of Hamilton Township and is the owner of Sankofa Educational Consulting, LLC.  Dr. Smith proudly notes that she has been married for 23 years and has two beautiful children!

 

Communication

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Communication

¬†I recently read an article from the LA Times, that was run in the Living section of the Trenton Times on July 3rd. It was titled ‚ÄúGrandma, you’ve got mail‚Äù and told the story of seniors taking computer classes. The article was very interesting and there were some great quotes from both the student volunteers teaching the courses and the seniors taking advantage of them.

We’ve known for awhile that there is a “digital divide” among the generations. Certainly there are some more mature users of such technology was email, cell phones and even Facebook, gasp! But there are also those older adults that either fear the computer, or just have no interest. One quote from the LA Times piece that really caught my attention was this, “It scares me”, Edythe Eisenberg said of her iPad. “But when I call my kids and grand kids they don’t call me back, so I have to use e-mail.” This really touched me as a sad aspect of our growing reliance on computer technology and non-verbal communication.

I think technology is great and offering seniors a chance to learn how to use and not fear some of these new technologies is also great, if they want them. However, those of us that are caught up in the fast paced world of communicating with our friends and colleagues through mostly email, text or online chats should not forget the seniors in our lives that want to hear from us. Your mother, father, grandmother or grandfather shouldn’t feel forced to use a technology they don‚Äôt like just because it is the only way to hear from you. Pick up the phone and say, ‚Äúhey, how are you today?‚Äù Don‚Äôt miss that chance to learn something, help out with something or just connect, with an actual voice. It will be good for them and for you.

Technology is good for those who like it, but let’s remember to communicate to each other in the best way possible, which sometimes may be using the old fashioned telephone or dropping by for a face to face. But by all means if you grandma wants to be on Facebook, teach her how to get online! Who knows, maybe she’ll log on to match.com!

To Smart Phone or not to Smart Phone?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Some of you may have even struggled with the idea of a cell phone at all. You may have laughed at how many young people relied on them. You probably hated it when you finally caved and got a cell phone. Now, you see all your kids, grandkids and maybe even some friends with an i phone, droid or other smart phone.

What can a smart phone really do for you? What’s the purpose? Isn’t a phone just for making phone calls? First it was texting, then email and now apps?? What the heck is an app?

An app, short for application, is a program you order through your smart phone, they can be games, sports or news information and even recipes.

Being the first one to have something new, or being “in the know” can be a badge of honor. So don’t be surprised if friends and relatives want to show you what great apps they’ve downloaded.

 Here are some stats from AgeWave about Boomers and products

• On average, most baby boomers are asked for product or service recommendations about 90 times per year.

• Nearly 90 percent of boomers who were asked to give advice gave it to their fellow boomers.

• Practically all boomers consider their family and friends to be their most trusted sources of information

So, you can see that once a few boomers get their hands on a smart phone and start accessing apps, you’ll be hearing about it and may soon find yourself with one too. Apps are sometimes free or sometimes come with a one-time small fee of anywhere from $1.99 to $5.99 and up. Apps can also be used on i pads or other tablet devices.

Here are 8 free apps that we heard just had to be downloaded unless you want to be considered uncool:

• Dropbox—Dropbox lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. You load it on your computer and your smartphone then you never email yourself a file again. It’s easy to use and easy to set up.

• Flixster– Read reviews, get customer ratings, see screenshots, and learn more about movies. You can find the theaters, get show times, and watch trailers. It’s fast, visual and easy to use.

• Words with Friends—this app is a takeoff of Scrabble. Play with friends or strangers via your smart phone or tablet. Build words for points, see who scores the highest. Very good to keep your mind engaged.

• Whitepages— Use this free, easy to use app from your smartphone. Find, people, businesses and reverse phone lookups from those unknown numbers that show up on your phone.

• Zite—Users select categories of magazines that interest them. Then as you read articles on certain subjects. Zite sends you more articles on those subjects. You have options to email the articles to others or save them later to read on your iPad.

• The Weather Channel—More than 200 meteorologists provide interactive and hour by hour weather imagery. Great for planning outdoor activities, car washes or snow shoveling.

• WebMD—first aid information, symptom checkers, drugs and treatments, information on various conditions and local health listings. There are also many videos on treatments and common conditions like bad backs, fevers, diabetes signs. An excellent app for Boomers and Seniors.

 • Flashlight—So easy and so helpful. With a single touch your phone turns into a valuable flashlight that can be used to find your keys or read a menu.