Learning Supplements and Alternatives for Fall of 2020

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No longer on the horizon, the school year is all but here for Naperville residents.

While traditional in-person learning has been delayed in favor of e-learning to start the year for both Districts 203 and 204, there are still supplemental and even replacement means of learning.

Learning Pods

Christina Farrell – “I was just thinking of all of these kids that are going to be in this difficult predicament when they have to decide between their health and their learning. And I just really wanted to have a safe space for them to learn.”

Christina Farrell is a teacher’s assistant at Neuqua Valley. She is hoping to put together a learning pod, an idea growing in popularity. The concept is to group a small number of families around a teacher or available parent to provide a safe learning environment.

Christina Farrell – “It’s for anyone that struggles with learning virtually. And like I said, I identify with that as well even though I’m a teacher and I love to learn.”

Farrell aims to sit down with the student’s parents to set the expectations, while looking to meet with the students 2-3 times a week for a couple of hours.

Christina Farrell – “With technology, a lot of these kids lack social skills. So, working in those collaborative environments with live human beings really adds to that dynamic.”

Personal In-Person or Online Professional

Meanwhile, Sarah Weber has her own pediatric speech-language services business and is encountering families with varying levels of concern with in-person and remote learning.

“I have families that can’t wait to have their kids back in just for that sense of routine that they were struggling to keep that normalcy while they were doing remote learning.”

And for those families, Weber will continue in-person learning. However, there’s also a large online clientele.

“I’ve got families that are choosing to go full homeschool, they didn’t even wait for their district to give them options for remote learning. They just decided they were going to pull their children and homeschool for that year.

Seeing firsthand the difficulties this past spring presented, the fall poses a uniquely difficult set of decisions for families.

“It’s been such a challenge going from being such a forced choice in the spring to now trying to present more options but still waiting out for what really is the best for the students when they’re going to be stuck in their classroom, unable to transition out.”

Online Tutoring

With remote learning being utilized to begin the school year, there are concerns that curriculum may still not be fully outfitted to be taught effectively in an online forum. That’s where Team Tutors fits in, started by Lauren Lee.

Lauren Lee: “We have a good relationship with the Naperville Public Library staff so they helped us advertise and that brought the students in.”

Lee started Team Tutors three years ago. Though they began as an in-person supplement to classroom work, the Waubonsie Valley based group is shifting online.

Elaine Carroll: “I think that we’re going to have an open zoom link posted to our website at the same time every Sunday. So a bunch of people could join the zoom and then we can assign students to breakout rooms with specific tutors.”

Elaine Carroll, along with Ally Smith and Alex Shen, will be running Team Tutors with Lee moving on to Northwestern. They see a critical need for tutors moving forward.

Ally Smith: “I know from personal experience, the curriculum isn’t ready to be online quite yet. It’s not as good as if you were in person. So I think offering online tutoring will be a great help to these students.”

While the options to choose from may all have pros and cons, there is a wide array of solutions to ensure parents are equipped with the necessary tools to provide a robust learning experience this upcoming school year.

Reporting for Naperville News 17, I’m Kevin Jackman