March of 2020 sent families and educators alike into a whirlwind of participating in and creating remote learning. With the pandemic still a concern, families all over the country are continuing virtual education as we start the 2020-21 school year.
For many, the idea of virtual learning is daunting. It seems like a new and crazy concept. Or, parents think back on their online classes in college…which, let’s be honest, they weren’t all that engaging! Virtual learning and online schools have been a growing part of the education sector for the last 20 years. And, yes, that does include K-12 education.
So, while for some families, this isn’t an ideal situation, there is a large number of families that online school does work for. Having taught in the online environment, I have gained some tips and tricks to make schooling at home just a bit easier.
Families participating in virtual learning for this school year often think they are homeschooling. Switch that concept of homeschooling to the idea of schooling from home. You still have the perks of the traditional brick and mortar classroom: the live sessions, communication from the teacher, and district benefits—but from the comfort and safety of home.
Create a space and set the norm.
Like toilet paper and Lysol wipes before them: desks and Chromebooks are out of stock. That doesn’t mean you cannot create an effective space for remote learning.
- Find a corner of your home to dedicate to learning. Maybe it’s the nook off the kitchen or a section of the family room. Make this clear of distractions like tv and video games. Try to find a space away from any noise that could carry through the Zoom or Google Meet.
- Run to Target for a pair of noise-canceling headphones. This will help eliminate distractions, especially if you have more than one student at home.
- When creating your workspace, have school supplies within reach. You don’t want your student to be up and down searching for supplies during live class sessions.
- Be sure your student is appropriately dressed. Also check that nothing inappropriate can be spotted in the background. Some teachers may encourage the webcam to be on.
Check the calendar, but be flexible!
Most teachers will be sending a plan for the week detailing assignments and live class sessions. Use that information to guide your week. Use your favorite calendar app, whiteboard, or paper calendar to outline the highest priority items.
There will be time when your student isn’t online. Those are pieces you can move around to do earlier or later in the day. But, check with your child’s teacher about due dates and expectations!
Communication is key.
Just like in a traditional school setting, your child’s teacher should be your first contact. If you have trouble logging in, questions about an assignment, or can’t find something in Google Classroom, don’t be afraid to ask. Ask before you reach a point of frustration. Many teachers offer office hours; this is typically a time to meet with the teacher to check in, ask questions, etc. Take advantage of this time!
Here’s the deal…the switch to remote learning isn’t easy for anyone. Many teachers are trying to build the plane while flying. Parents have to adjust their work-life balance. A lot of kids are confused. They miss their school. But, we really are all in this together. This is a temporary life adjustment. You may be surprised by how your child can still flourish, learn, and grow…even if you are schooling from home.