Like most of us, children are extrinsically motivated, so don’t forget to build in ways to say, “good job,” even if you just use stickers or a self-made chart that monitors their progress. Some children think that without the structure of a physical school, they aren’t learning. Create concrete ways to show students they are progressing toward a goal and that they are mastering skills.
Help is Always Available, If You Know Where to Look
It can be frustrating to hit a brick wall when you are learning online, so teach your learners where to get help if they need support. Teachers usually post office hours, libraries can be accessed virtually, and even message boards can help them ask questions of their classmates.
If your student frequently waits to reach an instructor during online office hours, teach them how to write their questions down or note them in online materials, so they will remember what they want to ask. Also, set realistic expectations by letting them know it is normal to ask for help.
As a parent, or even an online teacher, don’t forget about creating a support system for yourself. Chances are any question or roadblock you face has already been solved by someone, so seek out others who are taking the same journey.
Create a Support System for Yourself (and Your Child)
Even though this is online learning, that doesn’t mean students need to be on their computers all day, every day. Allow for breaktime activities to give the brain a break, and schedule in time for book reading or other activities that don’t require constant screen time.
Encourage your learners to interact with their classmates, either through chat options or meeting at physical locations. This will allow students and teachers alike to create their own communities.
Advocate for Your Child’s Needs
Just because the method of learning is different online, parents should remember to advocate for their children’s needs. This is true if you have a child with special needs who needs directions written out or advanced materials to stave off boredom. Even if your child doesn’t require an individual education plan, communicate their likes and needs to their teachers, information that you would probably share in a back-to-school night. Create a relationship with their online teachers and it will be easier to make small requests, such as extra materials or advanced tutorials.
Similarly, remember there will be times your child needs more support from you as a caregiver. Preview a complicated lesson to ensure you understand what’s being asked of the student, so you are ready for questions when they arise. And avoid the temptation to teach your children “the old way” if you learned math or another subject differently. This will eliminate confusion when a teacher uses a different method or requires an explicit answer on a test.
Adjusting to a new learning environment takes time. By applying the practices outlined above, you can ease the transition for your student and set them up to thrive.
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