Remote Learning

May 23rd, 2020 by

As parents of school-aged children, we all give a collective groan to remote learning.  I think we can all acknowledge that this time is stressful and hard for everyone.  Those of us with students have now taken on the extra task of being a teacher.  For those who have older students this may or may not be a big deal, depending on the motivation level of your student, however, for those who have students at the elementary level this means that you will need to be a lot more hands-on with your child’s learning.  Just like everything else there are days when this seems a doable task and there are other days where this is an insurmountable obstacle.  

Depending on which district you live in remote learning can look very different.  True e-learning is where everything is done on-line, however, this is not an option for most school districts.  Many districts either have a lack of computers to hand out to students, or they have a section of their student population that does not have internet access at home.  Therefore, most districts have gone to “remote learning,” a combination of e-Learning options and paper packets.  

So here we are stuck at home with our kids trying to be teachers to them.  The struggle has become real.  Students don’t want to do their schoolwork and who can blame them?  And now the school year is coming to an end when they are less motivated already? Just like their parents who are struggling, suddenly having to work from home full time.  This is one of the biggest reasons why we as parents are having problems motivating our kids at times.  Our kids are home and they want to do home-things and that does not include e-learning our countless pages in a packet.  

No matter how we feel about it this is our new reality, what now? My first suggestion is to make a schedule and stick to it as your life depends on it.  When your children are in school their time is managed to the minute every day.  This is what your children are used to.  Teachers go through great lengths to create colorful and create ways to illustrate their students’ daily schedules.  You can do this too!  The schedule can be as specific as you want it to be, but it sets a level of expectation for each day, what your children should be doing at a given time.  Routine in a time of uncertainty certainly has a calming effect on everyone parents included.  

Another thing to do for yourself and your children is to create a space for working or learning.  During this stay at home time my house has never felt smaller, but it is important for that sense of routine that we create a space, no matter how small, that we use as our learning or workspace.  This helps train our minds that when we are in this space that it is time to work and not play.  It may take a week or so for your child to get used to it, but it will be well worth it once they make the correlation.  

We are not stupid right?  No, we are not stupid, but many of us might have been out of school for a while and even fewer of us are professional teachers.  Teaching is a profession that is constantly evolving trying to keep up with the times and trying to figure out what works best for the challenges that today’s students face.  As such school today is likely not the way we remember it from when we were in school and that’s okay.  It is okay if you do not have all the answers.  Teachers love to hear from their students, and they love answering questions.  Most teachers are available via email or other apps like Remind, Seesaw, or one of the other countless apps that school districts use to communicate safely with students.  To the maximum extent possible encourage your student to seek out help from their teacher independently.  This is a great skill for your kids to work on not only for the rest of their academic careers, but also for their potential future career.  Do not be afraid to reach out to teachers, just remember to be patient they are as frustrated as you are.  

Patience is key

Remember that this is not easy for anyone.  This includes you, your kids, and teachers.  There is no handbook telling teachers what to do during this unprecedented time.  Different districts are telling teachers to do different things, and sometimes those directions are constantly changing as well.  I promise that your students’ teachers are working hard to provide your child with the best education they can with the resources they have.  It is frustrating when logins are not working, when directions aren’t clear, or when things just do not make any sense.  Remember that your child’s teacher would much rather have your child in his or her classroom instead of having them stay at home.  We are all doing our best and we are all in this together.  

Other considerations

This is an especially trying time for students with special needs.  These students need a lot of extra support so not being in school is exponentially harder.  Many of these students are also not receiving services like Occupational, Speech, and Physical Therapy they desperately need.  What as a parent can we do?  Again, it depends on the school district and the student’s disability, but in my experience, all the people who support your student at school are desperately looking for the best way to support your student within the restrictions that are placed on them by state, district, and school policies and resources. 

We all recognize that this is not an ideal situation.  Not for parents, not for teachers, and especially not for students.  None of us have could have predicted how this virus was going to impact our schools and none of us know when we will be able to go back, however, if we all work together we can do what is best for our students and make the best of a bad situation. 

So we have made it this far, but school is wrapping up for the year and we have no idea what next year will look like.  What can we do throughout the summer to keep up the pace and/or prepare for the fall?  One thing to keep in mind is that even though school will be recessing for summer, that schedule you prepared can be utilized in other ways throughout the summer.  Parents are still working remotely, or only beginning to transition back to an office, so the continued structure will be beneficial for both kids and parents.  Also, given that your student just got the knack of e-learning, keeping that momentum will be helpful for them to make up missed time when they do go back to the classroom.  It might also be helpful in the event that e-learning or remote learning is continuing into the fall semester. 

Happy teaching!  

Written by Amy A. Schellekens

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