- by Cindy
By Hannah Kaiser
The pandemic has changed many aspects of day-to-day life. One major affect families are feeling the most is the transition to online learning and schooling from home. Parents and guardians have been thrust into the role of teacher, one that most have no previous experience doing. I work with first and second grade students, and have been helping support parents remotely during this whole process. And I’m here to tell you, that we are all figuring it out. This is a huge change for parents, teachers, and students alike.
Keeping kids on task and learning is a challenge most teachers have perfected in the classroom, yet, kids have a different association when it comes to being at home. Home has previously been known for playing and relaxing, and holds a whole different set of rules and expectations then a school classroom. Now, students are required to alter this definition into one that combines both school and home life. And many will fight kicking and screaming the whole way.
It makes sense. Why should you have to learn multiplication at the kitchen table? Why must you watch a history lesson on the computer instead of playing Minecraft? How can you as a parent (or a teacher supporting from home) keep kids on task in their learning? Here are a few tips I’ve discovered in my three weeks on remote learning.
Keep a schedule
Students are used to a schedule while in the classroom. The older ones can list off their periods every day like they’re reciting their favorite song. The younger ones, while they may not be as aware of it, thrive off of the structure their teachers build. So, to the best of your ability, maintain that school schedule at home. At the very least, try to keep the regular start time. It may be tempting to allow your kids to sleep in, but I’ve found that it’ll be even more challenging to convince them it’s a school day if they wake up hours after school usually starts. This is easier said then done, but if you keep strict guidelines to timeliness, your kid will feel more like they are in still in school and will be more likely to stay focused on their daily tasks.
Collaborate with your teachers
With that said, this isn’t regular school. This is a trying time, and younger kids may feel and express their stress differently, but still as strongly, as adults. All these changes may be confusing and scary for them, and this can affect the way they complete their work. I tell my parents that it’s important, now more than ever, to monitor your kid’s mental wellbeing. If a task seems to be triggering too much anxiety, or is just something your kid can’t appear to complete at home, tell their teacher. We care about your child’s mental and physical health, and have been trying to cater the workload into manageable and enjoyable tasks. But if your kid is struggling, reach out.
In the classroom, your kid is not constantly at their desk working. There are many short breaks taken throughout the day. Older students usually have a five-minute transition between their periods where they’re moving around the hallway, talking with their friends, and getting any snack or water they need. Younger classes often have breaks throughout the day. I sometimes have my kids take a short five-minute break in the hallway bouncing a tennis ball or doing some other sort of physical activity if they are getting too antsy in the classroom. There is also lunch and recess. So sitting your kid down in front of a computer and having them do school work non-stop will only get you so far. Give them breaks. Have them play outside after completing a class for five or ten minutes. Let them have snack breaks away from their work. A good thing you can do is set a goal with breaks. This can be different with each kid depending on their average attention span and how much you think you can challenge it. Set a timed goal, if you work for twenty minutes you get a five-minute break. Or a task related one, once you complete your work for math, you can take ten minutes to check your social media. Make sure to keep these guidelines strict and clear and to get your kid back on task once the break is over.
Use the resources available to you
There are an endless amount of online resources available right now for students at all levels. Your teacher may be offering you and your kid some, but feel free to use all and any that your kid finds helpful. Below are some I find useful.
Steve Spangler Science gives you close to 400 science experiments you can do with items you have at home. You can also purchase kits to come to your door.
Storytime From Space has videos of astronauts reading STEM-themed books.
Colorations provides you with educational craft ideas you can do at home.
Really Good Stuff has about 40 free printable student activities under different subjects.
You can get a free account at Go Noodle to access all of their fun music and dancing videos your kid can do at home during a break.
A big thing to remember while teaching your kids at home is that we are all in this together. Your teachers and school staff are also figuring out this new system alongside you. Some tasks and resources may work with your kid, while others may not. The important thing is to stay in communication with your teachers and work with them. They have had your kids in their class for at least half of a school year and want them to continue their learning process even while at home. Together, we can help this generation of students stay on track in their education, and even provide them with unique learning opportunities and skills they can only have during this time of remote learning.