The pandemic has forced the closure of many businesses and schools around the world. In some areas, shelter-in-place is advised or compulsory and social distancing is becoming the new normal. While many parents have adapted to work or school from home, most k-12 students are not prepared for it! How can you keep up your hectic schedule and make sure your children keep up their learning?
As a high school teacher, I have 5 tips that can help make learning from home successful:
1) Enthusiasm. Curiosity is contagious and builds enthusiasm. Tell your children about your favorite class at their age and what you loved about it. Read over their assignment and find interesting points. Connect the points to something in their life – using math at the grocery store; the geography of your town; or who was president when you were born. Teachers at every level strive to connect lessons to real life.
2) Engagement. Work with your children through a lesson. Children love nothing more than showing parents what they’ve learned, especially things the parents don’t know! Do you have younger children? Read to them. This is one of the most important things you can do for language and reading development (Acosta-Tello, 2019).
3) Flexibility. Don’t expect to sit your children down at the kitchen table at 9 am and have them engage until 3 pm. This is not what’s expected at school and won’t work at home either! Set aside two moveable blocks of time each day and call it something like focus time. When you call school work you dampen enthusiasm. Focus time is when you really concentrate on the lesson and focus on completing your assignments. Have a small reward for a good session of focus time.
4) Agenda. Set an agenda. If you’re lucky, your child’s teachers will do this for you. If not, make a short list of what is to be accomplished for the day. The agenda can be posted on a shared calendar where you can see their progress or a paper calendar where they can check off completions. This gives students a visual measure of goals and creates momentum as they check off what they complete.
5) Stability. Children are apprehensive and fearful about the pandemic, just as we are. As a society, we are in a severe storm, one of the worst ever. You are the anchor. If your child is in high school, you must guide them through the loss of all of the social gatherings that memories are made from. If your child is very young, be honest about the danger, but assure them that following the rules will work. Struggling yourself? Reach out to your child’s teacher for mutual support. You have a natural connection, a common goal.
Social media gives us and our children a way to stay in touch with friends and family. A multitude of applications brings the teachers into our homes, with learning tools at our fingertips. If you have lost your job and the means to provide a device for your child, or the money to keep the Internet turned on, reach out to the teachers. Most schools have programs to provide a device, and many internet providers are offering a period of free service for those in need.
I’m a teacher, and I want you to know these things. You are now a teacher also, and you will do it better than anyone else possibly could!
Martin Culberson has been a technology graduate assistant for the Walden Career Services Center for the last three years. He earned a Master’s in Education from Walden in 2015, a Masters in IT in 2019, and expects to complete the Doctorate in IT in 2020. He has worked as an adjunct IT professor for the last three months, and as a high school classroom teacher for the last three years.