Three young boys learning from home during a pandemic equal a stressful household, especially for single moms like Ashleigh. But regardless of the amount of help you have, transitioning from in-person schooling to homeschooling is difficult.
Aside from the struggles that teachers are enduring from transitioning to remote learning, families are also experiencing quickly-moving changes to try to adapt their children to a remote lifestyle without sacrificing their education.
Family stress theory is a term and idea coined by Reuben Hill when studying wartime familial experience with separation. The theory uses an ABCX model, encompassing four (A, B, C, and X) different contributors to family stress:
A: the event. In Ashleigh’s case, COVID-19, and her boys being kept at home due to lockdown.
This could include any time of external issues, related or separate to COVID, like losing a job, going through a family transition, or moving.
B: the parent’s resources. This could include family members helping during the homeschooling process, school districts funding more accessible ways of learning, or support from the community. Of course, the more resources there are, the easier it is to cope with A.
In Ashleigh’s case, Elephant Learning served as just one resource to help her cope, but she also turns to friends and other parents in times of need for additional emotional support.
C: the parent’s perception. How are parents dealing with this idea of the pandemic closing down their schools and having their child be home? It’s proven that seeing “A” as a positive as opposed to a negative helps in coping with “A.”
For example, seeing that the pandemic has brought about more means of spending time with pets and kids, instead of seeing that it caused a change in careers or job could help with coping.
X: the outcome. This is either a crisis or a solution, depending on how the parent deals with the situation. If they’re seeing the outside stressor as a negative, or not getting enough of “B,” they’re more likely to have a crisis on their hands.
Now, since the world isn’t black or white, you may not feel like you’re placed in either of these scenarios. Maybe it changes from day to day, or maybe you definitely feel like you’re veering into the direction of sheer and utter chaos. The model’s important in understanding how your family dynamic is working, so you can catch problems at the right time and before they expand into bigger issues.
Some families struggle with a faulty or blurred perception, and others struggle with a lack of resources to help them get through tough times.
In Ashleigh’s case, she avoided both a family crisis and a math crisis.
Meet Ashleigh’s three kids: Alexander, Brayden, and Tucker: all different in personalities, but all with similar struggles when it comes to learning math.
Alexander could run around and play all day, but when his mom needs help, he’s immediately there. Problem is, his ADHD holds him back from gliding through math like some of his other friends. When the clock runs out, he’s still scrambling for an answer, which causes frustration and a disdain for math.
Ashleigh explains that this is a common occurrence and often leads to much larger, long-term issues.
“He gets very nervous during timed quizzes and tests, and rarely meets the time limit allowed,” Ashleigh explains. “This has led to a cycle of him trying hard, failing to completely master concepts, and then not doing well on tests, which means he likes math less and less.”
That cycle is definitely not alien to a lot of struggling parents and students.
Brayden’s a big helper when it comes to fixing things. He loves to get his hands dirty and help when others need him. His issue is that when the white sheets filled with graded classwork and multiplication tables come around, he’s out for the count.
Tucker wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s there when nobody else is and is always a shoulder to cry on — even if it’s a friend he just met five minutes ago. Yet, trying to learn math is like trying to understand a language he’s never spoken before.
Ashleigh does everything she can to make ends meet and allow her boys to be themselves and live in the moment. But sometimes, she feels like she can’t breathe. The endless spiral of math problems isn’t foreign to her. In fact, she’s tried almost everything to help her kids with math.
Other parents provide a great support system for her with small ticket items and making her feel a sense of community amidst the madness, but they rarely solve the long-term problems.
And they’re not the only ones struggling.
The Northwest Evaluation Associate, or NWEA, an Oregon-based non-profit centered around providing educators with information and resources especially amidst the pandemic, projects that schools have less than 50% of math learning gains after the unsuccessful remote learning situations forced upon thousands of schools around the country.
When Elephant Learning came around, Ashleigh’s world felt like it was flipped upside down. It offered her a chance to breathe while the gamified app did the teaching.
Each kid now has a personalized game system that helps them in their unique learning style and makes learning math fun.
Gamification has been a proven method of learning, showing a positive impact on learning according to a study published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.
The difference between gamification and class-to-screen learning is that gamification is strategically crafted with remote capabilities in mind. This is why the success rate is much higher as compared to other distance-learning solutions.
For Alexander, he can see how he’s performing against his peers while not feeling the intense pressure of being behind if he’s taking a little more time to get to his answers. See, Elephant Learning’s platform is self-correcting in that it’s constantly gathering information every time your child’s answering a question.
When they’re right, they’ll quickly advance them onto the next level to uncover their next challenge advancing their Elephant Age more and more as they continue with the game.
When they’re wrong, they’ll uncover the gap in learning and fill it by including more and more applications of that specific piece of knowledge so they can learn at their own pace while also advancing with flying colors.
Additionally, though Elephant Learning doesn’t collect data, they’ve had handfuls of parents coming to them saying that their children who have ADHD, ADD, dyslexia, autism, and other differences in learning abilities have advanced far beyond what other programs have provided for them.
No matter where your child is at, it’s never too early — or too late — to help them advance their math skills even further.
For Brayden, he doesn’t have to get that dreaded feeling when his teachers are passing out boring worksheets, because all of his work is on the system, which looks a lot like his favorite games anyway.
Elephant Learning likes to say they’re like Angry Birds but for math, and most kids will agree. Each student gets a score called an Elephant Age, so they can see exactly where they rank according to others and visualize where they want to be.
Far from the dreaded white pieces of paper with little black letters that Brayden endures, his (and all new students’) experience on Elephant Learning begins with a fast-moving placement exam that meets each kid where they’re at. Then, as Brayden advances, the game will take him step-by-step through lessons so he not only can understand them but can master them.
For Tucker, distractions are few, because the gamified system engages him on a more relatable level. He gets so involved in the game that he doesn’t even feel like he’s doing math.
The Elephant Learning team requires kids to take breaks and believes they should be only doing up to 60 minutes of work per week. They know the importance of recovery, especially in burnout and in situations where students may need to process newly learned materials.
Before, we said that Tucker sees math as a different language. Well, Elephant Learning actually does see mathematics as a language, and like a new language with a young student, any student can master it under the right instruction and practice.
Keeping the family dynamic balanced worked for Ashleigh by giving her kids a platform they can actually understand. Through Elephant Learning, each of her sons advanced (and continue to do so) through the platform, saving stressors for another day.
Homeschooling got easier for her. How will it get easier for you?
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We are not common core. We created our system independently of any other curriculum or standard as a way of "starting over" and "doing it right." Having said that, we cover the essential topics and treat mathematics as a language, so we are compatible with ALL curriculums and standards including common core.
Many parents find common core frustrating and confusing. Our system is straightforward, and our reports allow parents to understand how we intend to teach each subject. We also provide activities that parents can do with their students to take learning outside of the system.
We cover from counting through Algebra. We have seen students as young as 2 years of age achieve success. If you have an older student who is struggling with upper level mathematics, it tends to be due to a misconception that occurs in Algebra or earlier. Our system will detect gaps in understanding and fill them with activities that were proven by third-party research to teach the concepts effectively.