PDS understands that a shift to distance learning will require our boys and families to make adjustments. At the Hancock Home, we have been doing distance learning for the past three years. Some of you may know that my son, Clay, is an accomplished violinist and a traditional “bricks and mortar” school was not the best plan for him. He started online learning after his Freshman year of high school to allow for travel and practice. Now, he is heading towards graduation from online high school. We have experienced and adjusted a lot through these past years and you can click here to see some of the things we have learned that might help you during this time.
Establish a Regular Schedule and Routine
Maintaining a routine and structure for the day is very important for every boy’s success. This routine should begin with a regular bedtime and wake-up each day. Post the schedule in a public place in the home so everyone knows when there is work time and when there is break time. Depending on the age of your son, you will need to engage in check-in time during the school day. If your son has difficulty maintaining focus, please reach out to the teacher for tips and tricks.
Create a Study Space for Your Son
We recommend that you create a separate, quiet space in your home for your son to study. The family room sofa with close proximity to a television or your son’s bedroom may not be the optimal place for your son to learn. We recommend that you choose an open area in the family living space (kitchen table, dining room, etc.) to avoid isolating your son and to allow parents/guardians to monitor your son’s learning and screen activity. A room with strong wireless connection will also be important.
Stay in Communication with your Son’s Teachers
Your son’s teachers and the division directors will maintain regular communication with parents. The frequency of the communications will depend on your son’s age, developmental stage, and level of independence. While teachers are available as resources for your son and for you, please keep in mind that our teachers will need to be in regular email communication with all of their families, so we ask that you be mindful when communicating with teachers, strive to be succinct, and focus on the essential. Many of our teachers are also balancing the needs of young family members. We thank you for your patience.
Encourage Independence and Allow for Productive Struggle
Stay engaged in your sons learning by asking him questions and having him share his thoughts while encouraging his independence so he can take ownership of his own learning. Some productive struggle is essential to learning, so we ask that parents allow their children to grapple with problems and come up with ideas for tackling them. Stepping in too quickly to help solve problems will deprive your son of the opportunity to learn, try new approaches, and gain greater independence and confidence. If your son becomes discouraged and/or overwhelmed by schoolwork, please reach out to your son’s teachers, mentors, or counselor.
We understand with our youngest learners the parents will need to be more actively involved. Our youngest boys will learn best when play turns into learning. Your teachers will continue to provide information and input on how to do this best. Remember, they are experts in harnessing the energy of young boys. If you have a question, please ask.
Wellness: Encourage Physical Activity and Movement and Monitor Student Stress
One of the hallmarks of PDS is PE Everyday. We very much encourage the continuation of physical movement and exercise. The Coaches will continue to provide encouragement and activities for the boys to take part in during this time of distance learning. The amount of people taking walks in my community has skyrocketed. When the days are nice, encourage getting outside and being active with those in your home. Our counselor, Tom Edwards, is available to speak with boys and parents. You can reach him at
You will need to help your son with time management. We had to step in to help Clay with this area of online learning. Boys often have difficulty predicting how long something will take to accomplish. You might utilize a timer to help on task behavior. If school is taking too long to accomplish, please communicate with the teachers. We do not want students to feel tethered to the computer/iPad all day long.
As much as possible, we encourage digital free weekends. The boys will have enough time on technology during the week. I encourage you to play family games (we have loved playing Exploding Kittens lately) and take on family projects where everyone can contribute. We all need a break from technology.
If you would like to speak with me, I am available for phone or video conferences. Cheryl Burkart (firstname.lastname@example.org) continues to maintain my calendar. I look forward to being a resource for you during this time of remote learning, and I look forward to being together in person soon.
Head of School