Note: This article is part of the full 37 page guide Remote Learning Guidebook for Schools and School Districts available on our site.
The recent coronavirus outbreak has caused schools all over the US to adapt to remote learning. This is a fantastic way to reduce the spread of the virus but it does require parents to step into a homeschooling role. As parents balance working from home themselves, they are also challenged with ensuring their children receive the proper education while school doors are closed.
Parents, know that during this time, you are not alone! Parents, teachers, and students across the country are facing the same challenges as one unified team.
During this time of uncertainty, your outlook towards online learning is the most important thing. Keep an open mind and a positive attitude and your student will do the same! We talked to parents and educators to put together this parent’s guide to help students learn both remotely and effectively.
What is a Home-Learning Balance?
As students across the country adapt to online learning, parents are creating an environment for their children to learn from home. Students typically go to school so they can put everything aside and focus on learning. As those lines blur, it is important to create guidelines for students to learn from home. A home-learning balance is simply drawing the line between what is learning time and home time.
Without after school activities, playdates, and daycare, children will be looking for other ways to entertain themselves. You have made it your life goal to ensure your children are happy and busy! Without their normal activities, it is important they find other ways to stay happy, healthy, and engaged while at home.
By creating a home-learning environment with the right tools and resources, you will see your child will thrive at home! The best part is that you get to watch it happen.
How to Create a Home-Learning Environment
1. Create a Designated Learning Space
Wherever you decide to let your child set up shop, create a designated workspace at home. Associate that area with learning only for the time being. Try talking with your child about how this is their “work from home” desk! Just like their desk at school but at home. You can try to set this area up like their school desk by removing any home clutter. Consider adding items to the area that the student might need like a pencil case, calculator, and extra paper. Students should feel comfortable and have a sense of ownership to their home learning space.
2. Choose the Right Learning Space
It is easy to want to let your child learn from their bedroom, playroom, or the couch while you also work from home. Choose a designated learning space that allows your child to feel a sense of ownership and empowerment when they sit down to learn! You can try having them work alongside you at the kitchen table so they can see how you work from home! It is important to find a neutral space with limited distractions where you can check in periodically. When children go to school, we as parents are able to feel secure that they are being supervised. Same goes for your home. Now that our parent role has turned into a combination of parent and teacher, the responsibility lies on us to make sure they are engaged and learning. Once you choose your designated learning space, make sure your student feels comfortable learning there!
What You Will Need
1. In-Home WiFi
Remote learning has one major requirement: in-home wifi. Not everyone has access to in-home wifi which creates a major barrier between your student and their teacher. If you find yourself in this position, make sure you communicate with your school district administrators to come up with a solution. School districts have been working with wireless companies to provide students with hotspots and in-home wifi. If your district is still figuring out the kinks, you can share these “Top 5 Tools for Working Remotely” with them.
2. Web-Accessible Device
If teachers are using online platforms to connect with their students, it is important that students have access to a computer, laptop, tablet, or even smartphone. Ask friends and family if they have any extra devices around the house that your student could borrow. Alternatively, reach out to the school district to see if they are providing any assistance.
How You Can Help
1. Minimize Distractions
It is inevitable that your student will get distracted while at home. What we can do as parents is prepare for distractions before they happen. If you have a dog, consider putting a sign on the door to let solicitors or delivery drivers know not to knock. Other ways you can minimize distractions is to make sure that all toys, games, and activities are tucked away during learning hours. Practice the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. If your student is having trouble focusing due to other distractions in the house, try noise cancelling headphones or moving their learning space to a quieter area. Take it day by day, if something isn’t working, try something new!
2. Set a Schedule
Our students are used to being on school schedules so try to keep their schedule the same at home! There are pillars in the school day that you can mimic at home. Things like start-time, lunch, recess, and end times are good starting points for setting a schedule. Talk with your teacher about learning times and how they typically set the student’s day. Having consistency in the schedule will instill your student with a sense of comfort. Let them know that this is how it is going to be for a little while but learning at home can be just as fun as learning in school!
You may need to make adjustments in your day to compliment your childs at home schedule. This is a time of empathy and employers understand that without school, children will be at home. Try to block times off your calendar that align with your child’s new home-learning schedule. Now you have an excuse to have recess!
Communication is key when it comes to remote learning. Make sure to keep open lines of communication with both your child and their teacher. During this time, teachers are quickly adapting to online learning that frankly, most teachers have never had to do before. This is an unexpected learning experience for students, parents, teachers, and school administrators. Try keeping open lines of communication with your students’ teachers and give them feedback. Help them understand what they can do better to deliver the best educational experience and let them know when they are doing a good job!
Actively check-in with your child on their progress both educationally and mentally. This can be a difficult scenario for students who are used to being in social settings. Make sure that your student feels empowered and comfortable at all times. See how their day is going and help them keep on track with their assignments! Most teachers will give you a due date schedule to manage at home assignments. If your student is falling behind or struggling, make sure to keep open lines of communication with your teacher and administrator – you are all on the same team!
You are a Rock Star!
Unforeseen circumstances have shifted a lot of responsibilities onto parents’ shoulders. You are a rockstar and we will all get through this. Your encouragement, accountability, and dedication to your students’ learning will help them thrive when they get back to the classroom. Have a positive attitude towards online learning and your student will have the same!
If you are working from home alongside your student, check out “Remote Working – How to Create a Work-Home Balance”.