No one knows how long students will be attending school in virtual classrooms instead of physical ones. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed approaches to education. It’s a learning experience for all: Students, parents, teachers, and tutors.
Many experts and educators are sharing tips on how parents can make the remote school experience more effective. The most important steps, all advise, are structure and patience.
The online magazine TeachThought offers 22 Remote Learning Tips for Parents Helping at Home. You can read all 22, but here are some of the basics:
- Set (and keep) a schedule. The closer this is to a “school schedule,” the easier it will be on everyone.
- Make sure students have materials necessary to complete all assignments. This includes pencils, pens, paper, a stable WiFi connection, and log-in information for all accounts.
- Make sure all work is completed. Encourage students to email the teacher asking for clarification if needed.
- Use school resources. Contact your child’s school as well as the local school district and state education resources for support.
While high school and middle school students usually can work independently from home on remote lessons, that’s a lot harder for many elementary students, especially younger ones, advises a story in the Chicago Tribune. Here are some tips for parents of younger students, although the advice works for students of all ages.
- Have a quiet, consistent place for learning. Make sure the space is free of distractions.
- Keep children’s usernames/passwords handy.
- Keep supplies for their classes in one spot. Bins or file folders can help.
- Have a specific place to charge children’s devices. Let them be responsible for charging their devices so that they are ready for the morning.
- Get into a basic routine. Have them change out of their pajamas and finish breakfast so that they’re ready for the day.
- Take screen breaks throughout the day. Have kids get up, stretch, and give their eyes a break. Don’t neglect physical activity, since there isn’t any gym class or recess.
Don’t neglect social opportunities, advises a story in Parents magazine. Think about ways children can get support from fellow students or friends — or tutors! Encourage students to do their homework with friends over FaceTime or Zoom.
Take advantage of outside learning resources, suggests a story in Bored Teachers. Free online resources can be found all over the Internet. Here are just a few: PBS Learning Media, which has a wide range of subjects; Khan Academy, which has a special section for parents; Storyline Online, which turns books into videos for children; and Wonderopolis, which takes commonly asked questions and bases lessons around them.
Perhaps the best piece of advice came from a story in National Geographic. Remote learning won’t be permanent.
Joanie Wiltbank, a first-grade teacher at Canyon View Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, takes a tempered view: Disruptions won’t last forever. “This is just a portion of their total academic career,” she says.
When students do return to school, they will face a different environment than they were used to before the pandemic hit. Absent a vaccine, everyone will need to get used to more social distancing, especially at lunch tables and during recess; more hand-washing and cleaning of all spaces; and (most important) wearing a mask. Students, teachers, parents, and tutors alike need to get used to wearing masks regularly.