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Jim's Corner

Addressing Learning Gaps and Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom

September 17, 2021

Written by our Founder and CEO, our Celebrations Pulse Sunday Letters aim to engage with our community. From sharing stories to welcoming your ideas, we want to help you to express, connect, and celebrate the important people in your life.

Many parents share the concern that their children have fallen behind academically due a lost a year of in-person learning. Indeed, many students performed below pre-pandemic expectations, but learning gaps from the 2020-2021 school year have already begun to shrink.

Now that the school year has kicked off, we wanted to share some thoughts from our trusted experts. Dr. Dan Willingham, a member of our Connectivity Council, advises that you be proactive and contact your child’s teacher or an academic coordinator to get a better sense of where your child stands and what support he/she will need as classes resume.

We should remember, however, that learning extends beyond the classroom. While this past year has been one of delayed social, athletic, or academic development for many, some of us used the time to sharpen skills and deepen our relationships. Perhaps there was a particular skill or hobby that our children wanted to try but didn’t have the time before the pandemic.

At home, we discovered that we could learn and enjoy many things online. We just needed to find our teachers and the right digital learning platform. Let’s continue to be creative in our approach to learning and consider all the opportunities there are to enhance our skills both in-person and online.

Navigating the Transition Back to School

We recently published a series of articles with tips on helping children return to the classroom, including an interview with a leading pediatrician on identifying and working through some of the anxiety children and teens may be feeling as they prepare to return. One key insight for kids and adults alike: Now is the time to reintroduce structure and routine into our lives!

Another article offers ideas for celebrating the start of school, ranging from a family movie night to a teacher appreciation party. Sibyl Volker and her husband offered another great idea: a back-to-school “Yes!” day for their two children. What’s a “Yes!” day? It’s an entire day where their answers to your kids will be “yes.”

A few years ago, we asked ourselves the question: What can we do to help our customers express themselves around the rites and rituals of death and dying? We had heard so many questions while speaking with our community and team members — how do you properly express yourself? How do you find the words?

We had numerous discussions about grief and condolence, and it became clear there is a need to talk about these issues. Our first step was to reach out to our friend John Tesh, a media personality and world-renowned musician who regularly discusses difficult personal topics on his “Intelligence for Your Life” radio show. John says death and loss have been among the most engaged topics he’s had with his audience. Several years later, we continue to work together to help our joint communities.

Jim values his many-year friendship with John and enjoys getting together with him and discussing a very broad range of topics. A few years ago John and Jim connected for a breakfast that quickly turned into lunch. John was sharing his health routine that contributed to his recovery from cancer. As lunch time approached Jim ordered a diet coke – ‘a big mistake’ . John gave Jim ‘that look’ and told Jim his opinion of soda products. Needless to say, that was Jim’s last diet coke.

Recently Jim had a conversation with John and they discussed finding purpose and putting it into action. Jim and John also gave tips on navigating the future of work. We think you will find something in this conversation that will lift you up and motivate you! Check out Jim’s recent conversation with John here.

Coping with Empty Nester Blues

The pandemic was undoubtedly a disruptor, including in family life.

We’ve heard from some parents in our community that they are conflicted, feeling both a sense of relief but also of loss. Parents may find themselves missing their children and longing for the time they got to spend together during the pandemic.

If you are struggling with empty nester syndrome, you may want to talk to other parents who also have children that have recently left home. Alternatively, you can use the time apart from your children to focus on professional development, improving your relationships, or taking up a new hobby.

Your students may also be struggling with being away from home. After a lengthy period of enjoying home-cooked meals and snacks on demand, college students may experience bouts of homesickness for those creature comforts. We have several ideas to make the switch to dorm life easy, homey, and delicious.

Carrying Our Lessons Forward

As we head back to work and school, let’s remember the lessons we learned during the pandemic and think about what steps we can take to make the most of this year. Certainly, there are challenges ahead, but these challenges also present tremendous opportunity for growth.

All the best,

Chris and Jim

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