The switch from brick and mortar classrooms to online instruction has proved a challenge for teachers, students and parents as well. On one hand, the teachers faced a situation they have never prepared for: having to adjust almost overnight to a system that has a totally different set of rules than face-to-face teaching, an overwhelming amount of new technologies each with its own requirements and a huge responsibility to provide quality instruction in a totally new environment. On the other hand, the students were left without one of their greatest joys: socializing with their peers and found themselves alone in front of a screen, with little adult supervision and plenty of distractions. However, not a lot of thought was put into the struggles parents have to face during this challenging time.
Today’s blog entry aims to provide some tips for parents on how to survive (and succeed at) virtual learning.
- Make sure your child has everything they need, in terms of technology. This does not mean a top-of-the range laptop or sophisticated gadgets. However, it is worth investing in a good quality head set, which would help your child hear well and be well heard during online classes. This will provide both your child and their teacher with a good communication channel, thus avoiding frustration from any part. You might as well consider upgrading your internet package, even if for a limited period of time.
- Get rid of distractors, unless you want to supervise your child throughout the whole online school day. Even though we love and trust our children, we should be aware that at no time online school is more appealing than video games or their favourite book or toy. So get rid of all the things that could grab their attentions and ruin their focus.
- Make sure they have all the materials they need readily available. This mostly means pen and paper, but also other things required by their teachers.
- Foster technological independence. Spend a few minutes showing your child how to access the technology needed to attend the online classes and to solve minor issues that might occur. This is more effective than having to intervene every time they are unable to unmute their microphone or access a file. However, be close by in case of emergencies.
- Maintain a schedule. Probably one of the hardest part of switching to distance learning is going to be the schedule. Kids no longer have to get up early for a commute to school. They’re at home which means they can get up and leave the room at any time. A lunch break may drag on for over an hour. At school, children are stuck with a very strict schedule. It’s up to you, as their parent, to make sure their virtual learning schedule is just as strict. While they don’t need to wake up super early for a commute, they still need to get up on time and ready for their first class. Any and all breaks should be timed for between classes, not during.
- Encourage social interaction. Without a physical classroom, your child is having less social interaction with their peers. One way to do this is through “playdates” online. Speak with the parents of your child’s friends and work out a time for them to all meet on a video chat, or give your teen an extra hour to chat with their friends. While they may not be able to actually meet up, they can still communicate with one another and stay connected.
- Stay involved. Keep constant contact with your children’s teachers and don’t hesitate to ask questions about your child’s progress or behavior. Remember that this is a challenging time for educators as well, so try to help by making sure your child has the best learning conditions, is punctual and does their assignments.
Article by Lavinia Marcu