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As the school year starts, many parents are scrambling to figure out how they’re doing remote learning this fall.
In Spring 2020, schools across the country moved to fully remote learning very quickly and abruptly. Most schools had a weekend to implement a remote learning experience for kids. To say it was ineffective would be a major understatement. Huge percentage of kids didn’t even check in or try to complete any work during the last 2+ months of the school year.
As this upcoming school year begins, many parents are looking at a fully online learning experience for their children again. Others are looking at partial weeks of remote learning. And even for schools that are returning in full, parents should be prepared to have periods of time when their kids will be learning completely from home as quarantines are pretty much guaranteed to happen.
The following strategies are meant to help parents balance their need to work in the face of their responsibilities of being with their child at home for remote learning.
Organize a learning group
For parents that simply don’t have the option of working from home, of which there are many, your best option may be to form a learning group with other kids in your local area. If you can find at least four other families that also have kids that are doing remote learning, then you can limit the amount of time that you have to take off in order to support your child’s learning.
The basic formula here is that each day of the week, the kids circle between homes. One day each week, all of the kids will be in your home, and you will be responsible for assisting and motivating them to complete their school work. The other 4 days of the week they will be at someone else’s home and you can work.
If you have a partner, this means that you may potentially only need to take a day off once every two weeks. This is far easier than taking a day off every week, while also allowing you to help support your child in their learning. It’s certainly not ideal, but the ideal situation is also not an option at the current time.
Create a daily schedule for your child
If you’re going to be spending the days at home with your child helping them to learn, then you need to make sure you have a set schedule as to what they’re doing, and when they’re doing it. Just winging it with learning for your child is going to lead to not much getting done.
Teachers will be providing more instruction and content this school year, but much of it will still fall on you to make sure it’s being done. If your child is old enough, sit down with them and work through what the schedule will look like. Get everyone on the same page so that there are no surprises when it comes time to move between activities.
A simple way to implement this is to automate the schedule with an Amazon Echo so that at a given time each day, it says what the next activity is. While a parent generally has to make sure your child is moving to the next activity there won’t be any need to wonder when it’s time to move to the next activity. They can move through their learning on their own.
Set a schedule with your partner
If there’s another adult in the house, you’ll have a bit more flexibility on schedule. If one parent isn’t working, then they will be working with the kids on the school work. However, many parents are in the situation where both of them are working. As such, you need to make sure that you’re both in agreement as to who is coordinating learning on what days.
One of your schedules may be more flexible which is great. If not, then you’re going to need to figure out how to make it work with your work and with the needs of your child. This may seem like an impossible task, but make sure that you’re discussing with your employer to see if there’s any type of flexibility that they can provide.
Use nights and weekends when needed (and possible)
As content will be delivered online, that means that your child has more flexibility as to when they complete that learning. One of the biggest benefits of online learning is the ability to complete the learning on your own schedule. Not everyone can always show up in the school building for their education, and they’ve had the possibility to complete their work online for many years.
What this means for you is that your child’s learning can actually happen in the evenings and on the weekends if needed. There may be online conferences that a teacher holds during the course of the week which aren’t possible to move, but all of the content and assignments can be covered in odd hours.
This means that you could complete a standard day of work, and then come home and put your child through their learning resources in the evening. You’ll need somewhere for your child to be during the day, but that’s generally going to be easier to coordinate than trying to coordinate someone helping them with their education as well.
Have a dedicated space for learning
Where possible, have a location that is dedicated for your child to learn. This is not always possible depending on where you live, but by setting a dedicated space for learning, your child will be able to get in the right mindset much easier.
One of the reasons schools work so well for this is because it’s the place where your child goes to learn. They know that when they’re sitting at that desk at school, they have work they will have to do and things to learn. If you’ve planted them on the couch where they’re used to sitting and playing video games, then you’re not helping them prepare for learning.
If you don’t have a lot of space, then using the kitchen table with some type of additional place setting at least helps. When it’s time for learning, you put the place setting out on the table to indicate it’s time to learn. While this may not be perfect, your goal is to create an environment that your child will understand that it’s time to learn in.
Making this school year work is going to be a little crazy. There are many ways you can make it a little easier for yourself and for your child. Remember, it’s not the end of the world if your child misses an assignment or day of learning because you can’t make it work. Kids all across the country will be experiencing the same thing. Do the best you can, and set your child up for success the best you can. That’s all that can be expected in the current situation we find ourselves.