By Anne Broderius, West Elementary Principal
COVID19 has changed the way we live, work, and learn. Many parents/guardians are now required to juggle the demands of several new and very important roles for children. All of us are in the position to possibly make major adjustments to our daily routines and for many families this includes creating the conditions for children to continue their education in the home. It’s our goal to continue to cultivate a love for learning even if we aren’t inside the traditional school walls.
Here are some strategies and key practices for a successful distance learning experience:
- Distance learning will be very different from being at school full time. It’s important to establish similar types of routines and schedules used in the traditional classroom.
- Set up a quiet, dedicated work space for your child away from TV and other distractions. Ensure all of the necessary materials are accessible, organized and ready for the day. During work time, eliminate access to phones, social media and video games.
- Students should continue with morning and bedtime routines including getting up and going to bed at regular school day times. Encourage them to complete the same daily personal hygiene routines (i.e.showering, brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc.) as if they were going to school.
- With your child’s input, create a schedule for the day. Include time for breakfast, lunch, snack breaks, outside time to get fresh air, exercise, acts of kindness and even include household chores. You should not expect your child to be in front of a computer for extended periods of time. Having a schedule for your child’s day from the start of the distance learning time will be critical.
- Distance learning is new for your child’s teacher too. Each day you should expect to connect with your child’s teacher. This might include completing an activity and sharing the work, a phone call, an email, responding to a daily question. Attendance will be taken each school day and your child’s participation each day is expected.
- Read-Read-Read. Some of our best learning is done through reading and conversation about what we read.
- Set up motivators and rewards for completing educational tasks each day. Include breaks or time to connect with friends over the phone or social media for getting some of the learning tasks completed. Children like to set and accomplish personal goals.
- Come up with ways to share back with your teacher what your child is learning and new things they are trying. This will be fun and help to inspire others who are on the same journey.
During the distance learning period, it will be important to stay connected with school staff such as the building principal, counselor or nurse. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or share concerns you have about your child. We are all in this together and ready to support your child along the way.
If you are also expected to work from home this may feel overwhelming. We all care deeply about being the best parent and employee we can be, and know this will feel stressful at times. Lean on your support network of adults, give yourself and others grace, and trust that we’re all doing the best that we can.
Finally, remember children are like mirrors and they reflect our attitudes about life. Be patient and know this will take time for both home and school to master well. Consider approaching this with the spirit of a learner and adventurer, and be open to doing things differently.