With the Parent Guide, St. Agnes aimed to ease the challenges of the distance learning transition.


A suggested schedule, a daily to-do list, and ideas on how to set family goals. A list of virtues to practice, strategies to keep children focused, and a reminder to play. And his first instruction: “Stay calm!

Before many parents realized they could benefit from a guide to help them navigate the transition to distance learning, St. Agnes School in St. Paul did. As COVID-19 forced Minnesota schools to switch to distance education, principals emailed it: a 17-page PDF, simply titled “K-6 Parent Resource Guide.”

On Facebook, a Catholic school parent commented, “This will prove to be a lifeline. “

Last March, as schools in Minnesota prepared to close their campuses, St. Agnes faculty met on a Friday to discuss the unprecedented situation and develop a plan for their students. Among the ideas was a guide to help families take on a new role in raising their children.

Third-grade teacher Rose Coleman volunteered to lead the project. By Sunday afternoon, the “Resource Guide for Kindergarten to Grade 6 Parents” was completed. Some were gleaned from resources already used by Saint Agnes, such as a list of 50 acts of kindness a child could do. Much, however, Coleman wrote for the unique circumstances.

The “K-6 Parent Resource Guide” has been designed to address the whole child, with sections on spiritual, emotional, physical and academic needs, in the context of the pandemic and the transition to life. home learning. But, with his practical orientation, he easily applied himself to the order of home life well beyond COVID-19. He suggested families work together to create a weekday schedule, follow a daily checklist, and incorporate the intentional practice of virtue. It featured a section on teaching strategies, a common prayer page, and a list of online learning resources.

It has spread far beyond the community of St. Agnes, and some schools have adapted it to share with their own communities, said Michael Adkins, principal of St. Agnes Lower School. He said it was important to get the guide back to parents as soon as possible.

For Coleman, the creation of the guide was an outgrowth of his teaching. “My role as a teacher is to support parents as the primary educators of their students,” she said.

This was clearly shown by mother Emily VanHeel, 43, a mother of five with St. Agnes students in the sixth, fourth and first grades. “I felt all of this reinforced what St. Agnes often says, that parents are the primary educators,” she said. “So even when the children are in school, we are their primary teachers and we work with the school. “

VanHeel said the guide “set us up for success for all of our family life around this time. It wasn’t just about focusing on “Here’s what to do for school”. He talks about how school was going to be part of our day, that it was important that we had prayer time and free time, that we were physically active and that we had meals together. … I felt like it was so useful because it was a strange time. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, we are homeschooling.’ Everything changed.”

Although St. Agnes has offered in-person learning since the start of the current school year, some students continue to learn at home exclusively, and others have periods of home learning due to quarantines, noted Coleman.

With the distance learning experience of last year, “I noticed a real change in parents, as they are more attentive to our school’s program and to their child’s academic abilities,” he said. she declared. “I think there was just a great new collaboration that I saw happen with parents to help them put a plan in place… to be more successful.”

Coleman, who received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2005 and has two master’s degrees, jokes that her university does not offer “pandemic education” courses, so she trusts the Holy Spirit to guide her. decisions in class. This sometimes means abandoning one’s plans to make room for further consideration of the concepts. Or recognize the underlying comedy in the situation when a student talks or hums during a quiet time, but, because of the masks, she can’t tell who.

She finds solace in St. John Henry Newman’s poem “Lead, Kindly Light,” especially the lines “I don’t ask to see the distant scene; not enough for me.

“When we come back to this period, I think we will be able to see the fruits of this pandemic more clearly,” she said. “Jesus desires to lead us with his light through this darkness, and he stays with us to show us the next step. After this pandemic, I hope we will bear witness with joy to the truth that his cross always leads to new life. “

Keywords: Aggie, COVID-19, Resource Guide for Kindergarten to Grade 6 Parents, St. Agnes

Category: Local news


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