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How to Help Your Children Learn During the Pandemic

While children get ready to go back to school, as a parent it’s natural to worry about what this year’s education will look like in the face of the global pandemic. Some schools are returning to in-person classes that are modified to fit within set guidelines, while some offer a hybrid of in-person and online courses, and others are continuing to teach their students completely remotely. No matter what your children’s school is doing for the upcoming year, there are ways you can help keep their education on trackespecially if they’re remaining remote for this upcoming year. Here are a few of those ways.

 

Establish a routine.

 

Having a routine to follow is important for children and young people, so doing your best to establish one that works within your schedule will be helpful to their education. Try to factor in educational programs that can be followed online, on the television, or on the radio, and set aside some time for reading and, if your children are younger, playtime. When you go about everyday errands and activities, use those moments and turn them into learning opportunities. Important as a routine is, don’t be afraid to switch up the sorts of activities you and your children do together. This will lend them some flexibility in their lives and keep them from becoming restless and agitated. If possible, plan as much as you can with the input from your children being kept in mind.

 

Have an open dialogue.

 

Even if your children are going back to in-person classes, how they receive their education will be much different than how the school year started last fall. Encourage them to ask questions and express their feelings to you, and whatever you do, don’t minimize their concerns. Being in the middle of a pandemic is stressful and scary, and it’s perfectly natural for children to feel these while the world changes around them. Assure them that their feelings about what’s going on are valid and natural, and show them that you’re listening by giving them your full, undivided attention. 

 

Take your time.

 

If your children’s school is fully remote this year, chances are you’ll be playing the role of parent and teacher in some cases. After all, a teacher can only do so much over a Zoom call. If you decide to take some of their learning into your own hands, start out with short, ten minute lessons and work your way up to longer lesson times. Get in contact with your children’s teachers or school if you need any guidance; you can also reach out to parent groups for support if need be.

 

Enrollment Management – A New Normal or Not?

A number of schools are saying they have enrollment concerns for 2020-2021 and others are closing prematurely before seeing what the Fall enrollment will be.  Steve Virgadamo believes that massive school closings may not all be related to pandemic issues. He believes there are steps you can take, even in the “Normal Next Covid” economy, to ensure that your school not only survives but flourishes. The trend of moving students back into government-sponsored schools predates the Covid19 pandemic, with affluent families leading the migration to public schools.

 Bursari Executive Vice President Steve Virgadamo shares with us some thoughts on leadership and Enrollment Marketing.  

Steve says it is not just the pandemic…..

 

  1.     “Own your Brand”
  • Your brand is the essence of who you are. It is a promise to your families and the delivery of that promise is essential to increasing market share. Your brand is unique to you. Your attributes, offerings and whom you serve need to be expressed but they need to be defined and used constantly in all school communication whether printed, digital, or verbal.

 

  1.     “Cater to the Millennial Market”
    • Start by defining the millennial parent – your customer – and identify what millennials are seeking in an education for their child(ren);
    • Identify what unique experiences, resources, and tools you have available that can be used to meet the millennial parents’ expectations;
    • Remember today’s parents are not comparing the customer experience with other schools. They are comparing the speed and comprehensiveness of your customer service to the customer care they experience in every other aspect of their life. Think Amazon and Disney experiences.

       
  1.     “On-Line Marketing Rules the Day”
    • Digital marketing is vital. TV, radio, direct mail, lawn signs etc. are past their “sell by date.” The digital marketing space is expanding every hour. Social media ads should be a primary component of your marketing strategy. They are force multipliers that allow you to broaden your reach while engaging your existing audience in meaningful ways.
    • Digital storytelling is a creative way to familiarize people with your brand. You can show one digital advertisement after another in a specific sequence to tell your story.
    • Hypertargeting is the ability to deliver a tailored message to a specific niche audience. Hypertargeting is the most efficient way to both use and stretch your marketing budget.

 

  1.     “Measure and Assess”

Most schools fail to track and assess the effectiveness of their marketing plan. It is important to remember that you cannot improve what you do not measure.

      • Keep a simple log of all aspects of the enrollment process. Record data such as website visits, information requests, campus tours, applications, deposits, etc.
      • Monitor and track student attrition

         
  1.     “Keep Your Finger on the Market’s Pulse”
    • A benefit of telling your school’s story across digital platforms is that you can watch in real time as your constituents and prospective parents/students interact with your story. Their behavior will let you know what is speaking to them and what is not.
    • Test, adapt and refine your marketing story. Your story shapes your brand. Your brand increases student inquiries and customer service converts inquiries to enrolled students.

 

We would love to hear more about your enrollment management best practices. Email them to Steve Virgadamo – svirgadamo@msn.com.  We are all in this together.

Hope Springs Eternal

In a huge win for Catholic schools, the Supreme Court sided with 3 Montana families who asked the court to declare that excluding religious schools from student aid programs is unconstitutional. The Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue looked at whether the Montana Supreme Court violated the U.S. Constitution when it struck down a tax credit scholarship program that allowed students to attend private schools, including religious schools. The decision in this case could have major implications for the use of public dollars to help parents choose a school for their child to attend.

 

In a joint statement, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference committee on Religious Liberty and Bishop Michael Barber, Chair of the Bishops’ Education committee said:

 

“The Supreme Court has dealt a blow to the odious legacy of anti- Catholicism in America. Blaine Amendments which are in 37 states’ constitutions were the product of nativism and bigotry. They were never meant to ensure government neutrality towards religion but were expressions of hostility towards the Catholic Church. We are grateful that the Supreme Court has taken an important step that will end this shameful legacy.”

 

Secretary of Education Betsy Devos said: “This decision represents a potential “turning point” in the sad and static history of American education and called on state legislators to “seize” the extraordinary opportunity to expand education choice options. The bigoted Blaine amendments and other restrictions like them are unconstitutional and have blatantly discriminated against students and families based on faith and have forced parents to enroll children in schools which do not match their values.”

 

Proponents of school choice said it was a major triumph in the courts,” Steve Virgadamo, formerly a Director with the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education and currently Executive Vice President of Bursari.com said: “School Choice is a civil rights issue and the weight that this decision carries is immense. It is a victory for student achievement, parental control, and educational opportunities for the poor and marginalized.”

 

Attorney General William Barr said: “That because of the SCOTUS ruling in the Espinoza Case, a state may no longer disqualify religious schools from scholarships or other programs solely because they are religious.”

 

The loss of Catholic schools would be an American tragedy. It would set back opportunities for generations of low income and inner-city neighborhoods. We cannot accept this for America’s children.  The presence of diverse educational options in our country – a thriving government-sponsored school system and a strong network of independent schools, including religious schools – has always been a source of American vitality.  The Supreme Court decision is indeed monumental, and in the 2020-2021 Covid world, there is still much more to be done to protect the educational opportunities for parents, but Hope Springs Eternal.

Why Parents Choose a Catholic Education for Their Children

Choosing a school for your children to go to is an incredibly important decision for a parent to make. You want to select the best possible education for them, but where should you look? Although you could look to your area’s public schools or one of the many private schools that exist, one thing you shouldn’t discount is sending your children to Catholic school. 

 

Why choose Catholic school over the other options? Here are a few reasons to consider

 

Role Models

 

The teachers at Catholic schools often serve as moral role models for their students. These are the people who will be spending hours at a time with your children, so it’s understandable to want teachers who share the same values that your family does. These values often start being taught while the kids are still at home, so choosing a Catholic school for education will mirror the beliefs taught at home and act as an extension of those previous lessons and ideals.

 

Exposure

 

Obviously, sending your children to a Catholic school will create daily exposure of the Catholic faith to them. This will build a strong religious foundation for your kids as lessons on the Catholic faith are taught every day. By the time they graduate, your children will be more likely to continue being involved in the Church than not. Likewise, they’ll be more likely to pray, donate to the Church, and have an identity solidly in Catholicism. 

 

Community

 

Being involved in the Church creates a sense of community, and this extends to Catholic schools. Being involved in a Catholic school creates an easier time for children to develop that sense of community with their peers and fellow parishioners. The Church offers fellowship, friendship, and service opportunities for those who are interested. For kids far from their families to attend school, the Church and their school can become a central hub for their community and involvement.

 

Education

 

A Catholic school is a high-quality and relatively affordable educational opportunity for kids. Private school is notoriously expensive, but many Catholic schools and dioceses have tuition assistance programs for those who need financial aid. These schools are well worth the cost, as graduates from Catholic schools are more likely to go to college and consistently outperform public and other private schools on national and standardized tests.

Summertime, Children and Reading

By Steven Virgadamo, Bursari.com Executive Vice President

 

The current school year is winding down quickly. I get most excited about summertime as it is a good time to establish an amazing connection….summertime, children and reading should be like peas and carrots….things that go well together. Reading for young scholars can always open up galaxies of possibilities, but, reading in those lazy days of summer invites play, the unexpected and encourages an unbridled imagination. Every book is a possibility.

 

Ensuring free time to read and imagine is perhaps the best of summertime opportunities: a wonderful companion to any program, camp or class.

 

But not all great summertime reading should be done by a child in isolation. Sometimes there is nothing better than reading together. Sharing a story with your child means sharing language, life, and perspective. Characters’ decisions, good ones and bad, morph into complex conversations outside the pages. Funny moments become inside jokes, and travels to exotic lands an inexpensive possibility.

 

I wish you all parents and young scholars a summer filled with opportunities to make family memories as well as lots and lots of books.

Top Catholic Podcasts 2020

Podcasts are an excellent way not only to be entertained, but keep informed about various subjects. With topics ranging from broad to niche, it’s no surprise that some Catholics have taken to this medium to spread the word of God to people everywhere. Though there are plenty of podcasts out there that deserve a light shining on them, these particular podcasts have something special about them that makes them the top Catholic podcasts of 2020.

 

The Catholic Feminist

 

This podcast is a call to women everywhere who wish to be “informed, inspired, and intentional” in their faith and community. The host of the show, Claire Swinarski, releases a new episode once a week covering significant topics in today’s world, such as racism, postpartum depression, human trafficking, immigration, and much more. Swinarski remains authentic in her episodes and has genuine discussions about the role of women in both the Church and in society, creating a space for those who wish to feel empowered.

 

Jen Said What?!

 

Jen Fulwiler, host of the SiriusXM radio show The Jennifer Fulwiler Show, takes points of interest from her radio job and highlights them during her podcast. A former atheist and nerd mother to six children, Fulwiler examines pop culture engagingly and thoughtfully that’s sure to be entertaining. Her podcast is perfect for those who want to listen to her radio show, but are never quite able to catch it.

 

Word on Fire

 

The Word on Fire podcast, hosted by Bishop Barron, skillfully takes the richness of Catholicism and interweaves it with modern culture. His podcast is both vivid and accessible to Catholics at all stages of their journey with Christ, educating and uplifting his audience to the truth and knowledge found within the Church. From insights on great Catholic thinkers to everyday, practical advice, Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire is a must-listen.

 

Fr. Mike Schmitz

 

Fans of Fr. Mike Schmitz’s YouTube channel will be thrilled to learn that he also has a podcast available to listen to while on the go. Though short, Fr. Mike Schmitz often reflects on a variety of topics, such as practical living advice and Catholic teachings. His podcast is down-to-earth and aims to “help listeners live out the Christian life more effectively.” 

Look Up, Not Down – Planning for the Opening of Schools is not a Dark Hole, It’s a Mountain

Bursari Executive Vice President, Steven Virgadamo has spent 30 years as a national leader in the American K-12 educational system. It is not unusual for school leaders to seek his guidance and counsel on a regular and frequent basis. We asked Steve to share with you some of the counsel he provides to school leaders with regards to the reopening of K-12 schools in a Covid19 world. He shared the following:

  • Students and staff should wear masks and pass through temperature reading cameras as they come on campus.
  •  Hallways should be designated one way to allow for social distancing and safe passage. 
  • Stickers should be placed 6 feet apart on stairwells, hallways, and other public areas to promote, remind and encourage social distancing.
  • Signs asking scholars to safe distance should be displayed throughout the building.
  • Students and staff should be given safe distancing “scores.”
  • Campuses should be closed to visitors. 
  • Student and staff temperatures should be monitored frequently.
  • Hand sanitizers should be available throughout the building especially at the entrance and exits of classrooms.
  • Dining hall usage should be canceled, and students should eat in classrooms.
  • Transportation routes should be adjusted to reduce overcrowding on buses.
  • Assembly plans should follow the guidelines utilized in each state for public gatherings.
  •  Sport seasons should be changed to delay any implementation of contact sports which do not allow for appropriate social distancing until later in the school year.
  •  Students should have an e-device dedicated to them for their exclusive use.  
  • Student workstations should be sanitized with wipes between classes and the buildings should be disinfected regularly.
  • Electronic thermometers should be utilized to read student temperatures frequently throughout the day.
  • Plexiglass study hall like corrals may be placed on each student workstation.
  • Parents should be asked to electronically sign each of their children into school and document that the child is not ill.
  • A safe place and comfortable should be dedicated to quarantine any ill student.
  • The handling of papers, forms, currency, checks etc. should be minimized as these items are just as likely to spread the virus as physical contact.

 

Protecting the health and wellbeing of school staff and students must be of paramount importance for every school leader. Bursari.com can help you provide a safer environment for the reopening of school and signing a school up for Bursari is simple and easy. There are no contracts, sign up fees or maintenance costs. Don’t leave the remote world of schooling and return to campus without it.

The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling Your Children

School is a fundamental foundation for children as they grow and develop. It’s how they discover the world, learn new things, find their passions, and become their own person. Some parents choose to send their children to the local public school, while others decide to enroll their kids in a private school. Homeschooling is another option for your children’s education, but it’s not for everyone. Playing the role of parent and teacher is a large responsibility that will affect both your child and your family. Before deciding to homeschool, it’s best to know the pros and cons to determine whether this mode of education is right for you.

 

Family Time

 

One of the more obvious results of homeschooling is the increased amount of family time. As both parent and teacher, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your children, which can ultimately lay a foundation for a stronger relationship between you. As your child’s teacher, you’ll have a direct role in what they learn, how they learn it, and making sure it aligns with your own moral values. However, taking on both roles in your child’s life will carve a good chunk out of your personal free-time, as you’ll need to plan lessons and handle administrative work in addition to parental responsibilities. This can lead to stress and fatigue in the long run.

 

Socialization

 

Being homeschooled can limit the number of people your children know that are their own age. This can seem preferable to some—by being homeschooled, there’s a smaller chance of your children being bullied or ridiculed by others, which in turn can help prevent low self-esteem and encourage learning. Homeschooled children also have more interactions with adults and other homeschooled children of varying ages and skill levels. However, since this method of learning limits the number of people your kids will know that are their own age, it can result in a smaller friend group overall. 

 

Education

 

Unlike with public schools, homeschooling will provide the chance for your kids to move quickly through topics that come easy to them and focus on more challenging lessons or on topics that catch their attention as opposed to ones outside of their interest. You’ll also be able to personalize your teaching style to benefit the way your children learn the best rather than enforcing a standard way of teaching that many kids will need to adapt to. Perhaps the best part for kids is the lack of homework necessary. Since they’re learning at home already, there’s no need for extra work to be done outside of school hours unless they’re struggling with something in particular. 

 

On the flip side, you likely won’t have as many readily available resources at your disposal as public and private schools do, and you’ll have to be the sole teacher of a broad range of topics as opposed to being specialized in one field. That, in addition to less time to dedicate toward parenting and the possibility of less structure than a public or private school, can affect your child’s overall education and learning.

Maintaining Tradition While Innovating Catholic Education

Catholic education is something that many parents want for their children. However, there is some conflict between the new age way of thinking with technology and the internet, and the old way of doing things. Therefore, we need to approach education with innovation while maintaining tradition. Here is how to do just that without losing the important aspects of faith:

Devices

More and more devices are entering classrooms every day. Long gone are the days when a classroom was comprised of simply a whiteboard. Today, teachers need to understand that students are going to be tempted to use their phones. Instead of reacting in the strict manner of the past, using measures that enforce policies while allowing a little freedom is paramount.

After all, devices can also be a great way to learn. Using smartphones and tablets in the classroom for things like quizzes, interactive games, and reading can be highly beneficial for cognitive development while also teaching students modern skills needed for today’s increasingly technological world.

Online Education

Not every class requires a physical classroom. Today, online education has grown significantly, which makes sense when taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Instead of paying for the building, students can simply log on and contribute with others to pay for their teachers’ time. This also allows for students all over the world to come together and learn about similar subjects, leading us into our next point.

Inclusion

Catholic education must be inclusive to spread the true word of the Lord. Promoting unity is the way forward. Teaching this at a young age is a surefire way to foster positivity and faith among younger generations, and to not discriminate against others purely due to differences in beliefs, appearance, or personality.

Science and Religion

Tradition states that science and the church remain two separate entities. However, with leaders such as the Pope himself coming out and advocating scientific research, it is necessary to innovate teachings so that science may become part of the learning process. That way, it can aid Catholic values rather than distract from them.

Looking at Other Beliefs

Many religions outside of Christianity and Catholicism have valuable lessons as well. Teachers can introduce them without having to praise everything they promote in full, highlighting the importance of acceptance and understanding.

The Surprising Affordability of Private Education

Many parents choose to send their children to local government schools, and the reasons for this decision are varied. In some cases, parents would prefer to send their kids to private school, but feel as though they cannot afford the cost of tuition. Fortunately, some methods exist for making the cost of a private education lower and getting kids a superior instructional experience.

Check the Tuition

One of the first steps in the process is to actually find out what the tuition is. Some parents automatically assume that they cannot afford a private education without actually investigating what the cost would be. Checking the website and meeting with a representative from the school can provide a more accurate financial picture. Upon learning the actual price, families may realize that they actually can afford the private education that they want for their children.

Join the Parish

When schools are affiliated with religious organizations, families can often get discounts if they join the respective religious community. For example, a Catholic school that is part of the parish will likely offer discounts to members of that parish. Therefore, parents can join both the parish and the school, becoming part of a wider community that will help to enrich their children’s experience.

Explore Multi-Child Discounts

Another way to receive a discounted rate on a private education is to send multiple children to the school. Some parents may want to wait until their kids are in first grade to send them to the private school. However, they may save more money in the long run by putting younger siblings into the school now. When they have more than one child enrolled in the private school, they can save on the cost of education.

Procure Financial Assistance

Parents can also look into financial assistance that is provided by the private school in which they are interested. Schools generally offer a limited number of financial awards, so parents who want to apply should do so as soon as possible. Researching the qualifications for the financial awards is an important step of the process.

A private education might seem as though it has a huge price tag attached to it. However, this thought isn’t always true. Parents have some steps that they can take to achieve the right education for their children while keeping their financial situations in mind.