How to Support Your Child During Remote Learning

The Covid-19 pandemic has a plethora of societal side-effects. As a middle school teacher, I’m dealing with the transition to online learning. It’s a weird shift. I’m used to having my students face-to-face. If they don’t understand something, I answer the question then and there, and we move on.

But times have changed. I cannot rely on verbal reassurance. I have to write down every single instruction – every twist and turn. But my thorough directions are not always received well. Some students don’t understand, others are visual or auditory learners, while others just don’t read the instructions at all.

Then I see the frustrations of the parents on social media. My friends with kids are exasperated with homework that they don’t understand. Some of their kids throw temper tantrums because their confusion is infuriating to them. What are the rules when you don’t get it? How does a parent guide their child when they don’t understand the material as well? As an educator who is going through these uncharted waters as well, I’m here to give a little bit of advice.

Step 1: BREATH. This is new to everyone – teachers as well. When we’re in a physical school, homework, projects, and deadlines are a big deal. I think you’ll find that teachers are trying to muddle through this as well right now. We have a learning curve too. 

Step 2: Communicate. I stay in communication with my students via email and other online sites. I am constantly reminding them that they have to communicate with me if they’re having issues. I have offered a number of extensions to the students who ask for it. I think you’ll find that most teachers are trying to adapt to this new way of life as well.

Step 3: Stay organized. If you don’t already have a big wall calendar, now may be the time to order one. When every day is the same, it is difficult to remember what is due when. The visual will help your student (and you) stay on track.

Step 4: Take advantage of office hours. Reality is setting in, and we’re beginning to realize that physical school may not be back in session this year. Teachers are starting to adapt. I know I have added online office hours, through Zoom, so my students can see me face-to-virtual-face. Encourage your child to seek out video conferencing with their teachers if possible.

Step 5: The internet is your friend. There has never been a more convenient time to be quarantined. The internet not only provides entertainment (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.), but it also houses a ton of educational material. Here are just a few:

Duolingo – Learn a language for free! – I love this site for vocabulary and grammar, but they also provide games for geography, math, science and more. Correct answers equal grains of rice that are donated to the World Food Programme.

Khan Academy – A non-profit that offers a ton of free educational videos and courses in pretty much everything. Go check it out.

Step 6: Enjoy the downtime. Don’t forget to appreciate the break from the 9-5. Talk to your child and find out how he/she would like to spend this time off. Maybe they want to take up an instrument, plant a garden, or rearrange the bedroom furniture. Now is the time to do all of those things you never have the time to do.

My biggest take away from all of this is that it will be OK. We’ll get into a groove, the world will keep spinning, and your kids will get an education. Although the quarantine seems like an eternity, in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a moment in a lifespan. We’ll get through this together, and until then, savor the still moments.

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