5 Questions to Help Parents Implementing Online Learning at Home

1. How do I talk to my child(ren) about coronavirus?

2. I’ve never been good at helping with homework, and now I’m expected to be a teacher. How do I succeed in implementing online learning at home?

  • Set up a dedicated space for learning. The kitchen table is a common choice, but if a child has a desk in their room or can share the home office, that works, too.
  • Turn off the TV and radio, and create a cell-phone parking lot during the times you expect your kids to be working.
  • Be present. An encouraging smile or a supportive nod will be reassuring.
  • Focus on their effort to promote a growth mindset. Phrases like, “you kept going even when you were frustrated,” and “you stuck with it when you were unsure,” go a long way.
  • Name progress. For example, “you’ve done three, and now you have two more to go.”
  • Ask questions to encourage creative thinking. While reading or discussing topics, ask questions like, “What do you think will happen next?” and, “What’s your idea?”

3. What can I do if I don’t feel like my child is learning enough?

  • Read, read, and then read some more. There have been numerous studies showing that helping your children develop a love of reading is one of the best things you can do for them. Choose fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, or even street signs and read to your children, or have them read to you, as much as possible. And when you’re tired of reading yourself, take advantage of the numerous celebrities reading stories on social media.
  • Take advantage of free resources. PBS Kids, Scholastic, and TED-Ed are some of the many organizations offering free educational content to keep kids entertained and engaged. Focus on a few resources at a time so you and your student don’t feel overwhelmed. In addition to the online options, incorporate as many hands-on activities as possible, and focus on applying lessons learned from digital sources to real-life things in your environment.
  • Celebrate informal learning! Activities, like playing board games, cooking, and taking a walk, can be educational for kids of all ages. Involve older children in budget planning and completing your taxes. Children of all ages can benefit from time in the kitchen. From math skills to life skills, cooking and baking provide hands-on lessons while also being a productive part of the day. Last but not least, nature offers an opportunity to learn and exercise, but if you’re unable to leave the house or are feeling unwell, options like National Geographic are also available.

4. My student(s) has a formal curriculum and lesson plans they must complete every day. How can I help them succeed?

  • Set up a routine. Similar to your student’s school day, a routine at home can be incredibly powerful to maintain some sort of normalcy. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, a pediatric medical expert and psychologist, says, “Children are used to structure and predictability, [and]… keeping that structure in place is critical to maintain their learning in this time.” Many parents found this schedule helpful as it incorporates academic time, creative time, outdoor time, and free time, but it also gives flexibility to the families to adjust as needed.
  • Be mindful of extracurricular activities as well. Many martial arts, dance, and music lessons have moved online. Incorporating loved activities into the daily routine can help provide a much-needed sense of normalcy during distressing times.
  • Change clothes. Studies show that adults working from home are more productive if they change their clothes. Presumably, the same goes for students to help them change gears from a relaxing weekend to a “school day.”
  • Monitor their progress. Review your child’s work, talk to them about what they’re learning, and be as engaged as possible in their progress. If you’re implementing online learning at home, there may be data you can access to review progress and grades. Regardless of the implementation, don’t be afraid to reach out to the teacher with questions from you or your child. Schools don’t expect parents to turn into a teacher overnight, but by facilitating conversations and encouraging communication, they can ensure their student is making progress.

5. My kids and I are stressed. I am panicking, and my kids are acting out. What should I do?

  • Be realistic about extra screen time. Not all screen time is created equal, and kids may be using technology to connect with friends and learn. Now is the time to cut everyone some extra slack.
  • Incorporate reading and math every day. If all else fails, those two subjects should be the focus. Other activities like journaling, going outside, and getting exercise are great additions, but don’t stress if they don’t happen every day.

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