Many parents attempted to teach their kids at home in the spring when schools closed to stop the spread of COVID-19. This was the first introduction to “distance learning.” With this distance learning, educators remotely provide materials and oversee the students’ education, with a parent or caregiver managing the process. We’re here to help you with distance learning tips for students going into this upcoming school year.
Tip #1: Don’t replicate the 8-hour school schedule at home
First off, the misconception is that kids need to be in learning mode 8+ hours a day. Both you and your school will likely know this by now, but just in case. Experts have suggested an appropriate study time for grade levels. An example of these study times is below.
- Kindergarten: 90 Minutes
- 1st-2nd Grade: 90 Minutes
- 3rd-5th Grade: 120 Minutes
- 6th-8th Grade: 180 Minutes
- 9th-12th Grade: 270 Minutes
As you can see, it does not require making your kid stay all-day in front of the screen studying or doing their homework. While it’s inevitable that they’ll have to stick to a schedule given to them by their teachers, try to make it as dynamic as possible. It’s a very different thing being at school for 8 hours a day, and being in front of a computer all the time.
Some parents who work during the day may be able to do distance learning with their kids during the evening or weekends. The schedule doesn’t have to look the same every day. Some days a student might tackle a certain topic or subject on their own, while another might require more parental support.
Tip #2: Get Clean and Organized before the school year begins
Start with a deep clean of your home. That is where Rain City Maids can come in. We are available for a one time deep clean and have recurring cleaning options to fit your families schedule.
It is important to develop good organizational habits from the start. Create a flexible routine and discuss with your family about how it’s working overtime. Divide your days into scheduled segments. Help students get up, get dressed, and ready to learn at a reasonable time. Keep regular bedtime routines, including rules for their digital devices. Adjust schedules to meet everyone’s needs, but don’t default to staying up late and sleeping in (However, a ‘free day’ now and then can be a treat).
Tip #3: Choose a good place to learn
Set up a dedicated area for learning. Your family’s regular learning space for occasional homework might not work for these new extended periods. Set up a physical location that’s dedicated to school-focused activities only. Make sure it is quiet, free from distractions, and has a good internet connection. Check that the lighting will work for your student(s), whether that be a natural window, overhead, and or task lighting. Comfortable seating is also a must. Lastly, keep doors open, and practice good digital safety by monitoring their digital devices frequently.
Tip #4: Stay in touch
Teachers will be communicating regularly through online platforms and virtual learning environments. Make sure everyone in your family knows how to find the help they need. Stay in contact with the classroom and support teachers, and counselors. If you have concerns, don’t hesitate and reach out to your teaching “team.”
Tip #5: Help students to ‘own’ their learning
No one expects parents to be full-time teachers or content matter experts. Provide support and encouragement, and expect your children to do their part. Struggling is allowed and encouraged! Don’t help too much! Becoming independent takes lots of practice. At school, your child would usually engage with other students and any number of adults multiple times each day. Many of these social interactions will continue from a distance, but they will be vastly different (and that's ok).
Tip #6: Begin and end the day with a check-in
In the morning, you might ask:
- What classes/subjects do you have today?
- Do you have any assignments?
- How will you spend your time?
- What can I do to help?
At the end of the day, you might ask:
- How far did you get in your learning tasks today?
- What did you discover? What was hard?
- What could we do to make tomorrow better?
These brief conversations matter. Checking in students to process instructions they received from their teachers, and it helps them organize themselves and set priorities. Not all students thrive in distance learning; some struggle with too much independence or lack of structure. These check-in routines can help avoid challenges later.
Tip #7: Let kids explore different interests
Kids do not need to follow the curriculum to a tee. Definitely allow your children to go down the rabbit hole with that thing that really interests them. It's amazing how much kids learn when they're doing things that are interesting to them. Just get your kids back on track as time progresses.
Letting kids explore their interests also includes outside activities. New distance learners are learning from traditional homeschoolers to be flexible and adapt their perspective.
Tip #8: Take a moment to breathe and set goals
After learning how to organize distance learning, give yourself some goals; immediate and long term goals. What do you and your child hope to gain? Is it to get better at a certain subject or as simple as getting through set assignments completed and turned in time. Set these goals and re-access biweekly or monthly.
Take a step back to get reorganized on what the days will now look like—review expectations with your children. The school will provide guidance on what to expect for in-person learning. You got this! If you made it through “distance learning,” going back to the “new” normal will be a breeze.