Tips and resources to help teach your kids from home.
At this writing, Boulder Valley School District has identified five possible phases of reopening and plans to start in phase three with a hybrid schedule of in-person and online classes. Many other districts are planning similar approaches.These creative ideas from experienced parents and teachers can help you and your child be ready for online learning.
Organization is everything. Setting up a daily and weekly schedule helps kids get and stay in a groove, so find a tracking system that works for both you and your child. Review it with them at the start of each day or week. Consider options like sticky notes on a Kanban board, spreadsheets and Google calendars. Adding live classroom sessions to each child’s Google calendar allows for everyone to get reminders. Putting alarms on your child’s phone, if they have one, or setting up a smart speaker (such as Amazon’s Alexa) to give verbal reminders about calendar events can help kids feel less overwhelmed. Find creative ways for your child to have a sense of control over the schedule. Can your teen start their day at noon? Can your 5th-grader do all their math on Monday and their science on Tuesday?
Toys, video games, siblings – home is full of distractions for most kids. To head distraction off at the pass, set up a designated work area. If possible, seat your child where you can see each other’s screens and give each other permission to get each other back on task if you get distracted. Building time into the schedule to relax, have fun, and move will also help. And time outside is especially important for kids’ mental and physical health.
Frustration is inevitable during this time of change and uncertainty. Listen and acknowledge the challenge when your kid complains about an assignment. If they say they don’t understand or don’t know what to do, ask them if they’ve spoken to their teacher. Everyone wins when your child contacts their teacher with questions: you free yourself up, build your child’s independence, and give the teacher space to do their job. Questions help teachers identify what they may need to go over again with the class. Boulder 8th-grade language arts teacher Adam Hunt is also a parent of three sons, ages 12, 14 and 16. He says, “For my youngest child, I made sure to check back with him to make sure that he understood the response that he received from his teacher. If clarification was needed, I would take care of the follow-up. For my 14- and 16-year-old, I would check with them and help them with any necessary follow-up emails or messages.”
It’s easy for emails to get lost in the shuffle as teachers manage communications with the district, colleagues, building administrators, parents and students. Check with your child’s teacher to see if they have a more immediate means of communication, such as Google Meets.
Remote learning doesn’t come naturally for everyone, whether you’re a parent, student, or teacher. Even in easier times, motivation comes and goes, and compassion is the key to making sure that people feel safe and valued. Mr. Hunt says, “Showing interest in the humanity of the people that we are interacting with – rather than treating them like cogs in a machine – will make everyone’s lives less stressful and will help your child to feel more valued and less alone in a world that hasn’t been so good at meeting their needs in the last five months.” One way to do this is to ask your child what they’re learning and show interest by asking follow-up questions. Regularly ask them for examples of their “best work” and put it up on the refrigerator.
Finally, before school starts, take some time to browse through this great list of resources for learning at home from the Colorado Department of Education: cde.state.co.us/learningathome/remotelearningresources.
You’ve got this!
By Amy Harris Van Vranken for Raised in the Rockies