Families all over America are struggling with virtual learning. It’s no wonder– juggling your own work responsibilities with your child’s academic ones is no easy feat. It’s important that parents understand, however, that while this is a challenging time, we’re also presented with the unique opportunity to understand and cater to our students in a way many teachers are unable to in the traditional classroom setting. You can essentially use this time to encourage within your child a lifelong love for learning. Here’s how:
Have a consistent routine
It’s certainly not easy, but maintaining a consistent morning routine can cut down on a lot of the chaos and uncertainty. Routines don’t have to be boring either; you can actually make having fun and laughing a part of every morning. Maybe you schedule 15 minutes of dancing/blasting music or an episode of a favorite show. It’s important that your routine is actually something you want to do or you probably won’t keep to it.
Your routine should also include checking in thoroughly with your student’s work and deadlines before they get going, says Eugenio Maria de Hostos (emhcharter.org) middle school teacher Krista Chumbley.
“You should genuinely know whether or not your child has been doing the work and not just clicking ‘turn in’,” said Krista Chumbley, a middle-school teacher. She said it’s easy for parents and students to try and skate by during this time but teachers depend on parents to ensure students are doing their best right now. Asking your student what they’re learning and how they like it is key to having a genuine conversation.
Go one step above when you can
It’s not easy but using a real-world application can really encourage a love for learning. If your student is learning about insects in school, maybe you two go outside and look for some. The toughest part about virtual learning is that it can’t always accommodate the different learning styles that students have and hands-on learners may be especially frustrated. So, it’s imperative that you work with your child and employ a number of projects, discussions and resources so they can grasp the content their way.
Going one step further doesn’t always have to be exhausting either. Want to take a break? Have them teach you the lesson! Being able to recount information shows a true mastering of the content.
3.) Think about who they’re becoming as people:
A pandemic isn’t the time to worry solely about SATs and test scores. It’s time you can use with your child to make sure they’re developing and learning as members of a community too. In the social media age, it can be hard to ensure our children are internalizing the right values but with more time together during the day you can actually explore activities that encourage this. Giving back, learning about and exploring your own neighborhood are all things that families can do to encourage children to grow up with a grounded sense of identity.
“You should also increase focus on ‘life skills’ that create a sense of independence- problem-solving skills, being fastidious to deadlines, setting a work schedule, reaching out for help when needed, reading directions,” added Chumbley.
These are all skills that will set your child apart not only in higher education settings but also the workplace.
Be patient with yourself and your child
Ultimately, you’re going to need a lot of patience. You have never done anything like this before and neither has your student. Students with different needs are going to see a change in resources available to them right now and you may feel like you’re shouldering the brunt of this learning yourself. Just remember: They won’t remember those long zoom calls. They’ll remember the silly home science projects and reading together. Give yourself a break when you’re tired and be patient with your family. We’re all just getting through this together.
Do you remember when your teacher would let you have a movie day or play classroom games instead of traditional classwork? Of course, you do. We always remember the fun days at school. It’s important to burn off steam– particularly during a pandemic when children are seeing their friends and family less so be sure to include fun in the curriculum. Here are some fun online resources for games and activities you can do.
This year isn’t just about keeping up academically; it’s about rethinking who we are as students. What and how we teach our students can set them up for a life of learning but it’s critical that we be patient, try new things, and have fun.