Building a Home

February 3, 2021

The start of a new semester is a perfect time to reflect on and review strategies for student success in hybrid learning. Whether your family has chosen to attend school online or on campus, one of the most important steps you can take is establishing consistent expectations and routines around school life.

At EARJ, we incorporate a daily asynchronous learning block into our hybrid model for Lower School students. This means that students complete learning activities outside of school, at their own pace, and with flexibility and choice.

This is a really important component of the full picture of planned learning. It helps students to develop key skills that complement classroom learning, whether in preparation, practice, or extension of their learning in the classroom.

Last week, our teachers reflected on feedback from parent and student surveys on asynchronous learning. We thought about how to balance screen time and technology-based learning with hands-on, interactive experiences that fit students’ interests and learning needs.  We considered solutions to support parents with asynchronous learning that take into account family needs.


Here are some simple but important principles that we hope will help families with asynchronous learning at home:

1. Establish an agreed upon regular home routine

It may seem obvious but it is so important. Agree on expectations with your child and create a routine at home for completing each day’s learning that works for both of you. Setting up a special workspace and organizing a schedule with breaks (and snacks!) each day will support your child to be successful.

2. Motivate through opportunities for problem-solving & creativity

Even our youngest students can develop problem-solving skills and independence, but they need help. The younger the child, the more you need to support them. If you show enthusiasm for the activity your child will love it!

3. Time together is priceless!

Asynchronous learning can be challenging, but it is also a real opportunity. It is a chance for parents to gain insights about how your child learns and what content is being covered.  This parent-child connection not only supports academics but also social-emotional well-being and overall success. We know that this is not always easy for working parents, but the benefits are amazing if you can find a time to do it.

4. Celebrate and praise

Children love feedback and praise – we all do! Try to showcase what your child does at home. When parents put their child’s drawings on the refrigerator door, or share photos of them doing school work at home on your family’s Facebook page, the message you are sending to your child is “We love that you’re learning!”.

5. Connect the dots

Kids can be incredibly perceptive. Ask them how what they are doing at home connects to what they are doing during synchronous lessons, be they online or on campus. When we connect the dots it helps us to reinforce our learning – and kids are awesome at this.

It has become increasingly clear that hybrid learning is here to stay… at least for a while.  We understand that for busy families this means continuing to navigate to the various demands of students learning part-time at home: parental commitment, English language support, managing multiple children, and keeping student motivation high (just to name a few!). We are committed to continuing to work together to support students by creating solid partnerships with families. We thank every EARJ parent for their participation and feedback and encourage families to continue to reach out to teachers to ensure a successful semester of hybrid learning.

Resources for Parents:

Blended Learning in the Mix: The Informed Parent

8 Tips to Help Children Enjoy Hybrid or Virtual Learning

8 Tips to Help Your Child Focus and Stay Engaged During Distance Learning

Kirstin White
Barra Lower School Principal

Big Little Things

September 15, 2020

I recently heard a story about a young man who was taking an internship in the commercial area of a company. He really liked working there and learning about the business. The deals were very technical and would take weeks (sometimes months) to be closed. But every time someone in the team closed a deal, he/she would go to an old bell placed in the office to proudly ring it, under the “Bravo” words from the rest of the team.

Sadly, he was not able to manage both internship and academic responsibilities, and after a while he had to leave to focus on his studies. When he was saying goodbye to the team, he asked if he could ring the bell one last time, which he did, leaving the office in tears right after.

This story made me think about small motivations, little gestures, life expressions that help us build our character, that push us forward or at least help us go through difficult situations. Not rocket science, just popular sayings, traditions, either things that pass through generations, are part of a team celebration or just lines we randomly hear in a movie that stick to our heads throughout our journey, sending gentle reminders about values or even about goals we want to reach.

And how can we as parents influence these sayings or traditions in our kids, no matter if they are a “give me five”, lines of a poem or a bell ringing? 

I still remember when I was 11 and my grandfather asked me to read him the poem “If”, by Rudyard Kipling, explaining to me every line as I read; it has certainly guided me in many moments of my life and made me proud of myself everytime I followed Kipling’s/my grandfather’s advice. But what about Cinderella’s mom saying “Have courage and be kind”, or Thumper’s line on Bambi ” if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”?

What about the memories of our parents or our teachers recognizing our accomplishments, making us feel so proud inside we could explode of happiness? What was the weight that these simple words and celebrations had on the person I became, and values that pushed me to follow my dreams in life?

So, here’s a thing: in case you have never done this exercise, I invite you to sit together with your kids to write down post-its with things you cherish or just things you like to share in your own family, stick them all on the fridge and end with a special celebration of your own… Promise it will feel great!

Last, but not least… We have a bell of our own at EARJ that used to toll for our Panthers at the Leblon campus, and we now ring it every time there’s a new family joining us!

Cristina Conforto
Director of Advancement

Raising risk-taking children

September 9, 2020

In both the United States and Canada, the first Monday in September is Labor Day and represents the unofficial end of Summer. Ordinarily, the weekend would offer one last opportunity to enjoy time in the great outdoors in the company of family and friends and to reminisce about the Summer that was.

Circumstances this year did not allow me to return to my home country of Canada, but that didn’t stop me from reflecting on previous summers this past weekend. In doing so, one particular story came to mind…

Since the time my daughter, Haylee was very young, I’ve shared my love of sailing with her. She would often accompany me pleasure sailing in our Sunfish or in races on her grandfather’s Mirage 25.  She had always enjoyed the experiences and for many years she had essentially been along for the ride, but watching and learning all along.

That all changed when she was ten years old. One day, I returned to shore after an hour of windsurfing and was greeted by Haylee. She announced it was time. She wanted to windsurf.

Without giving it much thought, I immediately came up with a number of reasons why I felt she wasn’t ready, including the fact that she’d never sailed before on her own, couldn’t read the wind, and wasn’t physically strong enough to hold the sail. I did so as an overprotective father that didn’t want to see her fail.

To her credit, Haylee wouldn’t take no for an answer. So, after demonstrating a few elementary techniques, I put her on the water, not fully sure of what to expect. Initially, she struggled with her balance and had trouble lifting the sail. I encouraged her. She fell in the water. I encouraged her again. Through it all, she remained determined and before you know it, she had lifted the sail from the water and was windsurfing!  Haylee couldn’t have been prouder, nor could I.

I learned an important lesson that day. I realized that Haylee didn’t want what I thought she did. She actually wanted the struggle and she wanted the fight because she wanted the best feeling of all. She wanted the feeling you get when you overcome a challenge that does everything it can to beat you and you beat it!

There may be a lesson for all of us here. As much as we want to protect our children, we should also encourage them to challenge themselves so that they may realize their full potential.

Rather than always being comfortable, they need to be provided with opportunities, academic, athletic or otherwise, in which they are comfortably uncomfortable and that allow them to push themselves to even greater heights.

In doing so, we are encouraging them to be risk-takers who are resourceful and resilient, who at times may fail, so that ultimately, they will succeed. It is through this process that self-discovery occurs and the magic happens.

Scott Little
Barra Upper School Principal