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What to Do When Teachers Strike

A Guide for Parents of School-Aged Children

Job action, work-to-rule, or strike: whether it is across a single school board or across an entire province, when school days are interrupted, it impacts both home and school life.

Strikes also inevitably lead to the question—how many days of missed classes does it take before students’ learning progress is affected? 

The answer will depend on the age and grade of the student. For the lower grades, learning expectations are not necessarily tied to the time that students spend in class, so it’s unlikely that learning will be greatly impacted by missing a few days of school spread out over several months.

However, for upper-grade students on track to post-secondary education, strike days could lead to missing out on valuable instruction on important concepts that might be needed later on. It’s also a disruption to habits and routines that students rely on to keep learning momentum flowing.

While it’s unlikely that school boards or the provincial government would let any strike get to the point that the academic year would be in serious jeopardy, parents concerned about their child’s progress should take the following steps to help keep their kids’ learning on track during strike days.

Keep Learning on Track During Strike Days. Here’s How:

  • Talk to Students About Days Off. Most students will likely view strike days as a fun opportunity to take a consequence-free day off school! Parents can help their kids understand that one or two days off can be okay for taking a break from school, but that after a few days off, learning can be affected. 
  • Create Learning Adventures. Whether it’s unstructured learning opportunities such as a trip to a museum or visiting a local heritage site, shift any scheduled activities toward learning opportunities. Have children research the activity and discuss any learning outcomes together.
  • Work on Schoolwork. Teachers may not be assigning homework, but even younger students can at least review any notes in their binders, organize their backpacks, or get started on an upcoming project.
  • Seek Additional Learning Support. Learning centres such as Oxford Learning often have additional hours of operation available for students who may feel that they are falling behind. If there are concepts to review that would otherwise require a teacher’s support, tutors can help bridge that gap.

Find more helpful learning tips in our learning on school breaks checklist!

No Report Cards? No Worries.

One of the potential outcomes of work-to-rule is that term and final report cards may be suspended. While report cards are important benchmarks that show student learning progression over time, they are not the only way for parents to gauge how well their children are performing in school.

Five ways to determine how your child is performing in school when report cards are on hold.

  1. Review Homework—report cards are typically a gathering spot for your child’s schoolwork up to this point. Rather than waiting for a single report card to show an average mark of your child’s performance, look at any homework that has been returned to your child. Whether it’s big projects or small assignments, look at the marks and review any comments.
  2. Look at Test Marks—if your child has had any tests returned, look at the marks and comments.
  3. Look at the School Agenda—if your child has a school agenda, is it being filled in properly? Are homework, assignments and projects being recorded?
  4. Gauge School Attitude—How is your child feeling about school generally? Is he or she ambivalent? Engaged? Dispirited? Your child’s overall feelings about school can be a great compass pointing toward how well he or she is performing academically.
  5. Review the previous report card—Whether it was from last term or last year, if struggles had been identified and there hasn’t been any direction toward resolving them, then those issues are likely still present. The flip of that is that if your child had a great previous report card, and there have been no real changes, it’s likely that everything is still on track.

For additional help with keeping your child’s learning on track during teachers’ strike, contact the Oxford Learning Centre nearest you.

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