As we continue to weather the storm of the novel COVID-19 virus weaving its way throughout the world, millions of children everywhere are hunkered down at home, at their computers, attending their “virtual school day” – as they navigate this new reality.
Parents, teachers, administrators and children are still scrambling to quickly adapt to this new way of learning amid the pandemic. Virtual learning is still new to many and adopting this type of education will be met with many road-blocks along the way.
However, try to keep an open mind amid the chaos as there are many helpful tips you can implement to ensure your child has the most success in this new way – and reality – of learning.
Keep regular school hours and a set routine
The fact that your child is now able to “go to school at home” is not a pass for sleeping late or going to bed late. Set appropriate bedtime hours based on your child’s ages and make them set their alarms, get up, shower, get dressed and eat breakfast. As children crave routines, parents should aim to stick to the same hours that your child is used to being in school. This will give them more security as they adopt this new way of learning.
Set up a designated learning space
Assuming your home has high-speed internet access, set up an area in which your child will be comfortable to learn. This should not be your living room couch! For most, this is a desk or table and a chair. Perhaps your child will be working on the families’ shared computer. Make sure he/she has an ample amount of available pencils and paper as well as their school notebooks or books they brought home from school. If you have a middle schooler or high schooler, chances are he/she will have their own Chromebooks or laptop. If they decide to retreat to their room, make sure that while they work, they’re not distracted on their phones or televisions. Also, if you have more than one child, try to keep their workspaces separated so they are better able to concentrate. The less distractions, the better!
Get to know your school's virtual learning platforms
There are many ways in which your child will be virtually learning. Read through your schools’ recent communication. By now, all schools should have outlined how your child will access their work. Many will be using their private school online portals as well as Google Classroom and docs. Schools should have a page up on their website with instructions that parents can access to help. Additional online platforms school may be using include SeeSaw, ScreenCastify, Skype, Zoom, RAZZ Kids, Office 365, Google docs/sheets/slides/Google Hangout, Zoom, Screen-o-matic, Flipgrid, Voice Thread, Kahoot, Padlet, EdPuzzle and NearPod. Try not to get overwhelmed! We know there are many different platforms. However, chances are that your school will stick to a few of them. All the digital programs mentioned are accessible for students on the internet and do not require special software
Once you’ve maintained your regular routine, designated your child’s own workspace and familiarized yourself with the online platforms, it’s time to take a brain break! You and your child will be inundated with materials. For every hour that you are working online, it’s a good idea to get up, exercise, take your dog for a quick walk, kick a soccer ball in the backyard or have your child get a snack. Whatever it may be, have your child change their view of the computer for 10 minutes each hour. Each time you have your child do this, the more focused they will be towards completing their daily schoolwork.
Having your child switch gears from in-classroom learning to online will not be without its challenges. However, by implementing these few tips – or any others that may personally work for your own family – your child will join millions of other students throughout the world who are “going to school” online and tackling obstacles along the way. Remember to stay calm so your child stays calm. You’ve got this!