After the School Day Ends, Teacher Supports Families’ Online Learning Challenges

As a public school teacher, Isis Spann noticed a few years ago that some of her students weren’t finishing their homework assignments. She realized that the students’ parents didn’t know how to help them. 

“These parents hadn’t been in elementary school for 20 or 30 years, and they were kind of lost,” Spann explained. 

So in addition to her full-time teaching job, Spann regularly took time after school and on weekends to compile online resources for families in her community and across the country. Then the pandemic hit, and the need for virtual and homeschool resources exploded. 

To meet the growing need for tools to support children’s learning from home, Spann launched a virtual program for kindergartners and their parents, called Kindergarten Kounts. VELA awarded the program a Meet the Moment microgrant in partnership with the National Parent Union. 

“I teach 5th grade at a rural elementary school in South Carolina that serves about 100 students, and I saw how difficult it can be for kids to learn in a virtual environment,” Spann said. Seeing 5th graders struggle with foundational mathematics made her want to build a program that focused on early mathematics. “Kindergarteners especially need to be engaged since learning at that age is so tactile. For students who may already be behind their peers, the coaching and resources we offer have helped families ensure that the gap for these kids hasn’t widened further during the pandemic.”

Kindergarten Kounts, which Spann started through her FUNdamentals of Learning organization, aims to build a strong mathematical foundation for pre-k and kindergarten students and their families. Spann’s aim is to narrow the opportunity gap by offering free online content, workshops, and virtual coaching to engage families in learning in fun and meaningful ways. 

Resources include a parent’s guide, a YouTube channel, a Facebook Page, and learning kits that are sent to families every six weeks. Of the 25 families who are part of Kindergarten Kounts, most have students who attend public schools, and several are homeschooled or attend private schools. 

Spann says parents who are part of the FUNdamentals of Learning homeschool pod tell her they feel more confident in teaching lesson material to their students. 

“I’m passionate about the learning process, and I want to share that with my students and their families,” Spann said. “The work I do in the classroom and with my families through Kindergarten Kounts is interconnected — one informs the other.”


Learn more about FUNdamentals of Learning here.
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