Hybrid learning, remote learning, or in-person- how is a parent is supposed to choose? I don’t know about you but I feel like I am stuck between bad choice #1 and bad choice #2. How is a parent to know what exactly they should do? And just when I felt that I was getting a handle on things, or at least had come to terms with my bad decision, the schools are slowing announcing e-learning across the board. With districts each taking approaches that are tailored specifically to that district, here are some things that might be helpful in the coming school year.
First, thinking about your student is important. This also means for those of us with more than one child, thinking about each student individually. Whether that student is learning remotely or in a hybrid model, thinking about his/her learning style is of utmost importance. For example, is this child going to be able to dig in and learn without constant parental guidance or is there going to need to be constant encouragement and guidance. Part of this depends on the age of the child but also their maturity and ability to stay independently focused. What other supports can be provided, whether through the school or by the family? Remember, the school is there to help your student succeed, even if it feels daunting right now. Many districts are announcing office hours for teachers where they will be available to answer questions or simply having constant contact with the teachers and staff about struggles and additional pointers might be helpful.
After thinking about how your child learns, develop a learning space that compliments that learning style. This might mean sectioning off a dedicated space with calendars, to-do lists, or other bulletin board items. In my parent groups, I have seen many creative ideas for developing these spaces but it is not just about having space but about ensuring the space is functional and tailored toward the student’s needs.
I mentioned parent groups but parent groups are for more than just showing off creative ideas. Learn from each other. Support each other. Assist where you can. There is a common phrase that it takes a village to raise a child but that is true now more than ever. Parents are facing unchartered territories in remote learning and it is okay to be overwhelmed. Reaching out to those supports can help. Not only for the parent to parent support, but there is nothing against study groups, virtual or small groups in person.
Those that feel overwhelmed might feel like remote learning is an unattainable goal. But knowing that no one has done this before can be a comforting thought. Teachers were not taught to teach like this, lessons plans were not originally designed for this, and curriculum guides were not designed for this. The remote learning of the 2020-2021 school year is to look much different than the end of the 2019-2020 school year. First, teachers now have some remote teaching under the belts and were able to explore some options of what worked a what didn’t work. They have also had all summer to wrap their heads around these concepts and adapt to a whole new way of teaching. New guidelines and expectations for what remote learning have been developed but only actually doing that which is discussed can really show teachers where the holes are. Schools are planning all along the way too and things might change as we go along and new guidance might be provided and new regulations. As we move through this school year, flexibility is probably going to be a virtue. This does not mean sacrificing your child’s education, make sure to communicate with teachers and staff is something is not working or your child needs assistance. Ensuring that your child is able to succeed, at home or in the classroom is key.
Navigating this new territory is stressful enough, make sure to give yourself and your student breaks. Those social skills are also important to develop. Finding a small group of peers that your student can connect with, virtually, in person, or a combination of both will really help move this phase along for everyone, without sacrificing the development of social skills. Also, parents need to take a break too. Some are still working from home, and now assisting with e-learning and it can all be overwhelming. Parents need a break too. Make sure to give yourself some space, even for a little bit to recharge your batteries too.
Every new school year comes with differences, the 2020-2021 school year, is no different with its unique circumstances. While it is unprecedented times, each school year is always a new opportunity to embrace challenges we never expected and adapt to the thing we call life.
Welcome to the 2020-2021 School Year-a Year of Winding Roads and Challenges Ahead.
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