“Daily Digest” offers at home learning options for families
When the pandemic hit our area in March and school closed, the Statewide Family Engagement Center went into action to support families and their children’s education.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — When schools closed in March, like many South Dakota educators, the Statewide Family Engagement Center which is under the umbrella of Black Hills Special Serves Cooperative, completely overhauled their focus and shifted to providing support for families with students learning at home.
They began the “Daily Digest,” an online newsletter of learning activities to make things easier for families feeling overwhelmed. They put out new content each day from March 17 through May 21 and summertime editions as well.
Statewide Family Engagement Center, Project Director, Morgan VonHaden, says, “It was geared towards families, to help alleviate that, just that bit of stress when it came to figure out what to do in those first days. But then we did hear that educators were also trying to figure out- what do we send our families to keep them engaged – how do we build those relationships, so then the Daily Digest became a tool for educators also.”
Positive response to the digest was immediate and sizable. Users are able to click through a plethora of materials and resources, like a virtual South Dakota road trip or venture though the National Parks.
There’s ideas for all ages from birth though 12th grade and beyond – even a place for college and career-aged people.
With the future of in-person learning still uncertain and with many families opting for online learning only, the need for this kind of support continues.
Project leadership sought alternate sources of funding to hire a staff person whose role will be to adapt the Daily Digest so that best-practice education resources can continue to reach families who need them.
VonHaden says, “With our Daily Digest, we were truly trying to make it easier, not so overwhelming and fun because we have to keep laughing and we need to keep having fun, because we are all gonna get through this.”
The organization also began a podcast, with a focus on school related topics, like attendance and the mental wellness of students.
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SDSFEC will continue to offer the most up to date information for families and educators in the state.
“The Digest” will continue in the beginning of October, focusing on important themes such as Parent Teacher Conferences, Mental Wellness, and Building Relationships.