More School Awesomeness

Foreign Service LifeIndiaTechnology/Innovation
September 18, 2018

Hello – Me again. Good news. Alice, our housekeeper/cook/nanny finally started on Monday and I’m feeling much more capable of managing the household now (mostly because I’m not anymore – ha ha).  :) It’s so great having a person who knows where to buy the right things and what the negotiated price should be and especially how to navigate bureaucratic processes in India. So I’m feeling optimistic on the home front. I’m also applying for a job and exploring a new volunteering opportunity this week, so that’s fun too. Fingers crossed that one or both of those pan out!

One thing that continues to wow my socks off here is Nia’s school. They recently launched an online journaling tool for the kids called Seesaw. So instead of getting a big portfolio at the end of the year that we haul from post to post, the child’s work from the year is housed online in a secure app that family members can access.

During our training on the app the school emphasized that the amount of content shared is driven by the student. There will be a base level of journal entries that all children do as part of classroom activities but the child is also encouraged to make additional entries whenever they feel inspired. For Nia, this might be a video of her doing something, a picture of something she created or an audio message. As she gets older, it might be uploading a paper or a written statement, quote or thought. Here’s a quick video that summarizes the tool:

My favorite part about this app is that parents (and grandparents!!) get notified when the student makes a new entry. We are then able to like or comment on the entry, prompting conversation and further reflection. Given how hard it can be to get info out of Nia about what she did at school, I appreciate that I can now use these journal entries as starting points for discussions. It’s also a great way to engage family members in her learning that live far away and would otherwise have trouble doing so.

We’ve received about 5 entries thus far. One was of her showing us a picture of a world map. She told us about why she liked living in India and circled where she lived on her map. Another entry was of her showing us the cover of a book and explaining why she selected that book to read. In the following video she read the book to us. There were also a series of photos from gym class as well as a 1 minute video of her doing yoga moves with a partner. I’m enjoying the variety of the entries and keep encouraging her to do more!

Nia’s school places a big emphasis on teaching kids how to be self-reflective. This tool is meant to encourage that skill by placing the onus on the child to decide what to share and then explain what was important to them about that project. The journal readers (the family members) can then ask follow-up questions that prompt the child to do further reflection.

The school also encouraged us to look for additional ways that we can engage our child in self-reflection at home on a daily basis. We recently implemented a new idea that we stole from our friends (thanks Monsters!). Each day Nia can earn from 0-10 pirate coins based on how she did that day. At the end of the day we all sit in bed and she tells us what she thinks she earned that day and why. She might say, for example, that she deserves an 8 because she was a super sharer during her after-school playdate but got really whiny during bath time. Nick and I then tell her where we thought she excelled that day and what lost her coins (not listening, whining, being sassy, etc). At this point we determine the final coin allotment but I could see us getting to a point where it’s more jointly decided.

I’m sure you’re curious what she gets to redeem her coins for. Well, it’s for none other than Tablet Time, her current obsession. This also eliminates the problem of her asking us to watch it all the time because when the coins have all been spent, there’s no more screen time that day. We’re only a few days in but so far it’s working beautifully. I highly recommend it for other parents who are struggling with behavior issues at home.

That’s all for today. More to come soon!

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