With the chaos of the pandemic and its effect on schools, the complete education of Texas students is at risk. Parents are expected to become co-teachers with minimal guidance, leaving them frustrated and lost when it comes to helping their students. Stellar Students is here to change that.
January 2021 comes after the closing of a hard and unpredictable year, but it also offers a fresh start to make this year better. This past year has given us a lot of time to not only slow down and reflect on the way we live our lives, but also begin to make those changes to live better. My name is Ms. Raya and I am a public elementary school teacher in Austin, and previously a charter elementary school teacher in San Antonio. Staying involved in your student’s education is crucial to their success. Students pick up cues on how seriously to take school from their parents, so when you care about and value education, your student does too. Another factor in educational success is enjoying the process of learning. If a student is being adequately challenged and the teacher is incorporating outside aspects of the student’s life into their learning, the student will achieve at rates you wouldn’t believe! I created Stellar Students to be that academic push students need.
Stellar Tips to Enhance Your Students’ Learning
As a teacher, I am floored by this year’s standard of education. We are in survival mode. Teachers are building the plane as they are flying it. And at no fault of their own, teachers have to miss parts of the curriculum to keep up because the “how” of teaching is constantly changing. On top of that, almost every teacher is doing the work of multiple staff members to limit the number of people exposed to their classroom and stay as safe as possible. One day, as I was reflecting on my teaching practices, I wondered: In a normal year, students are already missing mastery of all Texan standards. So I can only imagine students this year. What can I do to help? And that’s when I created Stellar Students—so I can expand my reach and help any Texas family that wants it! To give you a sense of what we do at Stellar Students, here are some examples of learning activities that you can do with your children at home.
Stellar Tips for Sight Words
Is your student struggling with sight words? Sight words are frequent words students will need to read without sounding out. Students are expected to see the word and know it by heart. To help with memorization, write (or have your student write) their sight words on notecards and hang them in places they visit daily.
You could put three words on the bathroom mirror for students to read while brushing their teeth. You could put 1–3 words on each side of a door frame for students to read whenever they enter or exit a room. You could put three words around the TV, on the fridge, in the car, etc. Just pick places your student frequents and ask your student to either read the word to themselves (if no one is around to hear) or aloud (if someone is around to hear). This tip was a game-changer in my classroom.
Stellar Tips for Time Management
Is your student struggling with time management? With the emergence of asynchronous work, students need time management skills more than ever. But, most students don’t have the right tools in their toolbelt to properly set themselves up for success.
To help with time management, first find a time to talk with your child. Pick a 10–20 minute time period where you can give them your undivided attention, and a time where you are feeling calm. You want to make sure that when you discuss time management you are not coming from a place of nagging and belittling, but a place of understanding and teamwork.
Start your conversation by asking your student how they honestly feel about their time management skills. Ask questions like, “What about time management are you really good at?” and “What about time management could you improve on?” Don’t be afraid to let your student lead the discussion and come up with their own solutions! Positive changes are more likely to occur when students feel a sense of ownership.
For inspiration, you or your student can search Pinterest for “time management tips for students ideas” to find specific suggestions to complement your student’s learning style and effectively help them.
Stellar Tips for Mental Health
Could your student improve their mental health? Mental health is VERY important. It is more than just feeling happy—mental health is properly balancing the good and bad that life throws at us.
To support students that could be mentally healthier, encourage your student to take 10–20 minutes each day to relax, reflect, and restore. Depending on your student, that could mean drawing, crafting, writing, meditating, exercising, etc. Whatever it is, discuss with your student how they could incorporate “me time” every day and use that time to better themselves.
If possible, provide resources and specific tips to encourage them. As I mentioned before, don’t be afraid to let your student lead the discussion and come up with their own solutions! Positive changes are more likely to occur when students feel a sense of ownership.
Getting to Know Stellar Students
Since I can remember, I have always known that I would grow up and be an elementary school teacher. Throughout my childhood I always found myself doing teacher-like jobs such as tutoring, babysitting, or homework help. That’s where I began to develop my teaching philosophy that I still use to this day. Through years of work experience and earning my teaching certification from The University of Texas—Austin, I have developed a teaching philosophy that always puts kids first and foremost.
I am a teacher who believes in individualizing learning to keep each student in their own personal zone of proximal development. The student is learning something that is just the right amount of a challenge when they are in their ZPD. This keeps students from getting bored and losing interest, or getting frustrated and putting up a wall.
To offer that insight to families across Texas, I created Stellar Students, a premium enrichment service. Designed to identify and teach skills your student could strengthen, Stellar Students creates an individual enrichment path that is designed specifically for your student.
For example, let’s say you have a student in 3rd grade. Your student would start with a 3rd Grade Unit 1 Assessment to identify skills within the unit they have already mastered and skills they could work on to strengthen their understanding. Then your student will begin their learning journey and receive lessons on just the skills they need more practice with. Once your student shows mastery, they move on to the next unit. Allowing your student to move as quickly or slowly through skills as needed.
Have a 2–3 year old who is ready to start learning the basics? Stellar Students also offers Early Childhood and Pre-K programs. Recognizing the struggle of getting students that young to sit on a computer, the Brilliant Babies and Pre-K Power programs partner with parents to provide young students with a strong foundation to build upon during their educational careers.
Parents enrolling in these programs will start by answering a questionnaire about their student’s abilities. Afterwards, parents will receive personalized and fully explanatory guided lessons to complete with their young student to strengthen the identified skills. Give your student the STELLAR start they deserve!
Connect with Ms. Raya
If this program seems like something that would be beneficial to you or someone you know, go on over to stellarstudents.org to get enrolled. Sharing is caring, so even if you don’t choose to enroll, I’d appreciate you reaching out to someone that would benefit from this service. If you have any questions or would like to chat more, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charter Moms Chats
Raya Belton is the teacher behind Stellar Students. She is a public elementary school teacher in Austin, and previously a charter elementary school teacher in San Antonio. She has a degree in Elementary Education at the University of Texas at Austin.
Read More About Enrichment
- “Fight COVID Slide with Expert Resources,” Inga Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms, December 9, 2020
- “How to Teach Your Child to Read,” San Antonio Charter Moms, August 20, 2020
- “Early Learning Activities with Mrs. Gupta,” Anindita Gupta, San Antonio Charter Moms, August 7, 2020
- “Mindfulness Moments with Yoga for Classrooms,” Paula Turner, San Antonio Charter Moms, July 20, 2020
- “Oh Snap! Math Games,” Vicki Leach, San Antonio Charter Moms, June 5, 2020