Covid 19 has really changed the landscapes of schools in 2020. One of the effects for schools is a move to virtual learning. This has been one the biggest and hardest challenges for students, teachers, and parents. It’s a type of learning environment where you are thrown in the deep end and are expected to swim. Some students, classrooms, and schools have been consistently doing virtual learning this school year and have finally hit their stride. Some have been bouncing back and forth between in person and virtual learning and are still trying to get their feet under them.
Regardless of your feelings on virtual learning it is most likely here to stay for this school year. It is time to wrap our heads around this idea and work to best prepare ourselves and our children. I am hoping this article will do just that.
You see, I am a fourth grade teacher at a brand new digital academy in Arizona. I have been teaching live online each day since the end of July. I have 12 years of teaching experience under my belt but nothing really prepared me to teach live on a computer. The growing pains were very hard for me, my students, and parents. However, I am happy to report that is no longer the case and I am really hoping to give some good advice to help you and your child find success with digital learning.
- Buy in– Whether you choose virtual learning or not, it is important to buy into it, or at least fake it for your children. It may not be what you want, but you need to show your child the importance to stay focused and present during online learning. Your thoughts and feelings on the matter will impact their attitude and motivation. Stay as positive as you can and let them know you are by their side.
- Learning Environment– Have a consistent, safe, organized, learning environment. Think, where might your child be the most successful? Do they need to be monitored constantly? Do they need a totally quiet and distraction free space? Can they focus near their siblings or other household members, or do they need to be alone? Having a consistent spot in the house with their material close by will help them be prepared and stay focused. This can look different for each child in your household and may take some trial and error.
- Adult support– Obviously younger students are going to need more adult support, but don’t expect your older child to be totally independent until they have proven that to you. I know that parents are being pulled in a million directions and may not be able to monitor their child’s learning. Reach out for help to friends and family and see if they would be willing to support you and your child as they do school each day.
- Communication– You may feel your child’s teacher is under communicating or over communicating during virtual learning. The most important thing for you to do is reach out and communicate with the teacher when you feel confused or in the dark. Teachers are trying to strike a communication balance and if you want or need more don’t be afraid to reach out. Parents are the most important allies during this time.
- Behavioral Reinforcement– Teachers are really relying on parents to be a partner during this time and that comes with both positive and negative reinforcement. The usual bags of tricks for teachers are very limited in this environment, especially when it comes to negative reinforcement. Teachers are reworking their ways but need your help to reinforce work habits and behavior at home during the school day. If you need ideas or suggestions, reach out to your child’s teacher and see what they say.
- Create a schedule– The day can be tricky with logging on and off or independent work versus whole group work. Type up a schedule to display or ask your teacher for one. This will help you and your child keep track of their day and expectations.
- Check in on your child’s progress- If your child has an online gradebook login at least once a week to see work completion and scores. You don’t want to fall into a game of constantly playing catch up with assignments and grades.
This is new and hard for all of us. But with a little change of attitude, some organization, and communication we can all work in harmony to keep school a success.