The widespread school closures that occurred in spring 2020 were largely unexpected. As such, most parents and teachers were unprepared for fully remote learning. However, there is much you can do as a parent to prepare for the 2020-2021 academic year, which may be fully, partly, or sometimes online.
Many school districts plan to play it by ear whether they will offer school in-person or online. But chances are good that your family may spend at least part of the academic year employing remote learning.
To make the most of a virtual education, you should be prepared to have physical space in your home dedicated to online learning, schedule time in your day to guide your child, and focus unrelentingly on teaching your child independent time management. Altogether, this will help your child have a successful year and avoid the “COVID slide” that many educators fear.
Physical space for remote learning
When kids are in school, they typically have a desk, cubby, locker, or storage space. They have pencils, markers, scissors, and paper. Remote learning will require those same things, so parents should be prepared to make a physical workspace for their child at home.
To physically prepare for remote learning, consider buying or dedicating a desk to your child. This will be their school workspace. You can stock it with needed school supplies. One important school supply for remote learning is a computer, whether it’s a laptop from your child’s school district, a tablet, or a personal home computer, your child will need a device to check in with their teacher. Along with a device, your child will need internet access.
All of these new supplies can add up, especially if you have to purchase a desk or a computer specifically for remote learning. However, there may be options for aid, rentals, or second-hand purchases.
Be a guide for your child
Remote school often consists of brief live instruction or recordings along with independent work at home. Unlike in-person teaching, your child will be expected to handle much of their work alone. Young children are often not focused enough to execute remote learning on their own, which means parents need to be more involved.
As a parent, you should sit with your child to help guide them through core subjects, such as math and English, because these concepts can be more difficult to master. But there are other parts of in-person schooling you may need to instill as well. This can include taking breaks to rest eyes, playing outside, and eating at set times. These smaller routines can help your child with longer-term remote learning and the inevitable transition back to in-person schooling.
Teach time management
As much as parents may want to guide their children through every step of remote learning, that situation simply isn’t possible for everyone. Most parents have to balance that guidance and care with work. That’s where teaching your child time management comes into play.
The better your child can manage their own time, the more time you as a parent will have to work. Time management is a learned skill, so it won’t happen overnight, but it will get better with practice.
If you set up a routine and execute it with your child for the first few weeks, they will soon adapt to it and anticipate what comes next on their own. Slowly, you will be able to trust your child to take breaks on their own or eat lunch on their own. They may also be able to do large portions of their schoolwork on their own that you can check later. This will depend on age, of course.
The skills your child will learn–time management, independence, self-sufficiency–will benefit them throughout their life. It’s one silver lining to this pandemic.
Overall, remote learning is different from in-person schooling, and parents need to prepare accordingly in order to have a successful year.
Get your free “Virtual Learning Tool Kit For The Overwhelmed Parent” to help you navigate the at-home learning journey.