At-home learning can be a challenge--but it isn't impossible to create supportive routines that help students and caregivers acclimate to a temporary new reality

10 at-home learning tips teachers can share with caregivers

At-home learning can be a challenge--but it isn't impossible to create supportive routines that help students and caregivers acclimate to a temporary new reality

When it comes to teaching, 2010 Teacher Of The Year Sarah Brown Wessling knows a thing or two–or 10. Wessling is sharing some of that knowledge to help parents navigate remote and at-home learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we head back-to-school this fall, parents are wondering how they can best support their children. While remote at-home learning has been challenging for many parents, students, and teachers, there are quite a few tools and resources available to help make this adjustment easier to navigate,” Wessling says.

Related content: How tech supports students’ emotional well-being during at-home learning

If parents view themselves as partners with teachers, students are better positioned for success, she says. Technology plays a big role, and parents should become familiar with the devices and systems their children will use during at-home learning. Often, teachers will use video to help deliver content or to help stay connected with students. This also lets students learn at their own pace by letting them rewatch content if they don’t fully understand something–or take a break from the screen to read or get outside. Wessling says she is a big fan of Prezi video and how she uses it to create engaging content for learners.

“Most importantly, parents should remember that they don’t have to be the expert, but they can be learners right alongside their children,” Wessling says.

1. Kids generally work in 30 minute increments – tops. Younger children shift activities every 15-20 minutes, and often quicker. Writing a morning list of the day’s activities can really empower kids to roll right into the next thing, which gives the parent-teacher space to do their other jobs.

2. Regular physical movement is a cornerstone of schooling. If you let kids move around regularly, the time goes faster and better. Maybe a dance or quick rotation in between activities. Pro-tip: You should also have a “vent” physical activity response plan already in place in case your kids seem on the brink of a tantrum – a walk to the mailbox, a quick chore around the house, etc.

3. There will be a mega-trend of recorded instructional videos that will help your schedule, and missed live video calls can be recorded. Set up a time regularly to catch up on teacher video messages, emails and newsletters, so you aren’t caught unaware of certain happenings and important dates. Teachers have been getting better at Zoom, but recorded instructional videos will be a massive part of the remote learning curriculum by the end of this school year, and will be a huge help to home parents because you can review the videos with your kids on your own schedule.

4. Create a dedicated spot where your child can work (even if for short periods) and one where you can work. The younger your kid is, the closer their dedicated work-station should be to yours. For teenagers, they can be in a different room.

5. Video games are a better form of screen time for slightly older kids because they’re social. While it is best to limit screen-time, gaming is actually one of the more useful types of screen-time. It’s this generation’s equivalent to talking on the phone with friends, and is both collaborative and strategic. Just make sure you play the game and understand the conversations being had and with whom.

6. Talk to your kids about what’s going on in the world. Oftentimes, young people fill in their gaps in knowledge with their own imaginations or by social media. Engage them in conversation to get the record straight.

7. Keep your conversations as positive and hopeful as you can. A passing negative statement can define the day or longer for the young learner. And avoid shaming your child at all costs. Boundaries are amazing, but when something goes wrong, remember that it’s a family system at work, not just your child.

8. Being clear with yourself, your children’s teachers, your coworkers and your kid on capacity. Let the teacher know the degree to which you can support your child at home and when you are available for meetings, and make sure your team knows how your productive hours are changing, so they can adjust how they work with you. We are all in the same boat. Ask your teacher how best they would like you to communicate with them.

9. Consider the ways in which your children aren’t sliding. In what other ways are they growing? Remember, all students are contending with the same reality, so it’s not the same as some students speeding ahead while others are falling farther behind.

10. We find comfort in what we imagine school to look like, but usually the conversation is the learning. So focus on the conversation moments with your kids, make time for it, honor it. And when in doubt, the questions your students/children are asking if one of the best gauges for where their heads are.

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Laura Ascione

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