Dear Springboard Families,

Yesterday was tough. It was Day 1 of our new normal. For me, that means I was at home trying to juggle my job and my children. As I write this to you, my 13-year old, Josiah, is texting me to get his brother to quiet down so he can do his virtual math.

I was trying really hard to get work done. But mostly, I was aware of my kids. I want to care for them, emotionally. And I worry about their learning. They are missing school and I can’t teach them (I’m working – not home-schooling), and that worries me.

I turned to my siblings, friends, and neighbors. We shared our stories about not knowing what to do with our kids, about losing patience and regretting things we said to our kids, about uncertainty as to what to do next.

In the middle of that uncertainty, I wanted to write to you all. You’ve always given me hope over the years. You’ve shown love and joy and at-home coaching; we need to lean on that now more than ever! We’re working here at Springboard to pull together resources that all of us parents can share during this time. Stay tuned for that.

 In the meantime, let’s remember what we’ve already learned from each other as Springboard families. 

Check-in with each other.

Every Springboard workshop starts with a check-in. This morning on a Springboard staff call, we started by asking everyone how they were doing. I was humbled by everyone’s response. I thought I was the only one not doing well, but one of my colleagues shared how hard it was to work at home with her daughters there, and another shared how isolated he felt working at home with no one around. Springboard workshops start with community and with sharing. When we set aside time to read with our children, let’s start with that. Let’s pause and check-in.

Make promises to each other.

I’ve witnessed hundreds of Springboard families and children make promises to each other. You’ve planned for your reading time together every day. You’ve picked times for “together reading” and for “alone reading,” and you’ve kept those times. I’m going to do this at home, too, by committing to 30 minutes of “together reading” every day. I’m going to put it on my work calendar and keep that time set aside for my child, even though it’s the middle of the day. I’m going to ask my child to commit to “alone reading” for 30 minutes later in the day as well. Like so many of you, we’re keeping our promises to each other.

Ask questions when reading.

This has always been the heart of Springboard. Our genuine interest in our child’s thoughts is a powerful thing and developing children’s vocabulary through rich conversations is one of the most important ways we can help our children. The reason we lean on books to help us is because our normal daily speech is actually pretty boring. In my case, I was talking yesterday with my child about taking out the trash (chores must go on in the midst of COVID-19) and making dinner. Those conversations didn’t help grow his vocabulary. However, when we sat down with a book, we started talking about circuses, and that opened up a whole new world of language and vocabulary that would never have happened without a book.

Have your child read aloud and pay attention to what they do.

In school, your child’s teacher has been helping your child learn new words and how to sound those out. We can help this continue at home. When my child reads aloud to me and doesn’t know the sound a letter or group of letters makes, I pause. I write the letter or letters on a piece of paper. I try to make a list with him of other words that use that sound. After he sounds out a word, I have him re-read it. I have him re-read the whole sentence. If the book is short enough to re-read the page together, we do that, too. Letter-sound connections matter deeply. While your child is reading, pay attention to those. If your child is missing knowledge about the sounds that letters make, help them.

There’s more, I’m sure, but as I sit here at home (with my kids making noise in the background) remembering the lessons I’ve learned from Springboard family workshops is a comfort and a help to me. 

Even as we are isolated in our homes, we are a community. Please do reach out to your child’s teacher or to us here at Springboard (my email is a.white@springboardcollaborative.org) if you have any questions about how best to support your child’s learning at home during this time. And as we learn about how best to support each other, we’ll keep sharing those resources with you.

With gratitude and respect,

Aubrey White's Signature

Aubrey White

President, Springboard Collaborative