Today’s world is full of divisive topics, but this spring, most parents were agreeing on one thing—eLearning was difficult! From challenges in motivating kids to working with new technology, the era of online learning ushered in by pandemic-related school closures highlighted how important teachers and the school environment are in giving structure to children’s days, providing the right balance between academics and socialization, and making sure children are indeed learning.
Many families reportedly found these challenges so great that they opted out of homeschooling, an approach that seemed reasonable when eLearning was to last only the final few weeks of the school year. But now as summer break moves towards the new academic year, most school districts find themselves still planning for social distancing measures and possible rolling closures.
These plans mean that eLearning will be part of the curriculum for the foreseeable future, and families have a critical role to play in setting children up for success.
“Families are our number one support system during distance learning,” says Jessica Klingerman, a seventh-grade teacher for Bremen Public Schools, and she offers several suggestions for ways families can help.
Get Familiar with the Technology
First, Klingerman recommends that parents familiarize themselves with the platforms that their children’s schools are using for distance learning. While Bremen Public Schools use a platform called Canvas, along with other applications and websites, most learning management systems, says Klingerman, “allow parents to follow their students with their own login, so they can see assignments.”
Becoming familiar with the platforms, websites, and applications that your student will use is especially important as parents seek to keep their children safe while online. While UNICEF notes that technology offers many educational and social benefits for children, they also provide suggestions on how best to keep kids safe as they navigate the online world.
Establish a Routine
Once parents are familiar with the tools being used, families should establish a specific time and designate a place in the home for school. In doing so, make sure that distractions are eliminated as much as possible.
“This helps to establish a work mentality if the student always does their work in a specific area at a certain time,” offers Klingerman.
For younger students who need more support, using a place like the kitchen table might work best, but Klingerman reminds parents, “Remember turning off the TV and removing dishes and other items will help kids focus on learning.”
Also, Klingerman recommends that families “create a schedule and stick to it. Once you decide when your child will learn best, make that school time and really stick with the routine.”
Plan and Communicate
Staying in top of projects and in communication with teachers is also critical. Klingerman suggests that families review online materials that the school sends so expectations are clear.
“Reach out to your student’s teacher with questions,” Klingerman adds. “Teachers are very willing to clarify and work with students.”
For middle school students like those Klingerman teaches, she notes that students should be able to complete their assignments with minimal parent help.
“At this age, a big obstacle can be the lack of the executive function,” she says. “Students will do three of four assignments, or they will complete an assignment but not turn it in. Sitting down with your student and asking them to walk you through their lessons for the day can help establish, not only a great connection for the two of you, but can also help them double-check their work.”
Klingerman recommends that families “use a calendar, color code tasks, and break down assignments into steps on the calendar.”
Take a Break
Klingerman also reminds parents that it is important for a child’s school day to be more than just lessons.
“Allow for breaks between lessons just as students have in a regular school day. Exercise or do physical activity each day. Research shows getting your heart rate up has a positive impact on how we think.”
Last, Klingerman encourages parents to stay positive!
“Online learning is different than using technology for entertainment and social interaction. Modeling calm, positive behavior helps your child not to worry or be scared and helps them to pick up virtual learning more quickly,” she advises.
“Acknowledge when your child has done well. This helps create a supportive learning environment that motivates your child and can lead to future success.”
Bremen Public Schools is dedicated to helping every child succeed, whether eLearning or in the classroom. Visit our website to learn more about enrolling your child in Bremen Public Schools, no matter where you live in Indiana.