2020 has left many of us feeling, well. . .lost. This is a very uncertain time for all of us. No one is exempt from the stress and uncertainty from this pandemic and now we are divided about whether or not schools should reopen in the fall.
I understand and I can empathize with all of you.
The past few months I have been watching and reading the news from across the ocean in Spain where my family and I currently reside. I can empathize because we were in the exact same place four months ago.
On Friday, March 13, Spain declared a state of emergency and full mandated lock down across the country. This quarantine kept everyone in their homes until the state of emergency was lifted on June 21, 2020.
So what did this mean for students and teachers across Spain? 100% online learning.
Our family had a unique perspective during this time. My husband and I are both teachers so we were teaching online while our daughters were learning online. Our home was literally one giant classroom as each of us were “in school” between the hours of 9 a.m. until about 4 p.m.
Please know that this post was not created with the intentions to try to persuade anyone about whether or not your child should enroll in distance learning or what the pros and cons are. I am simply writing as an American expat sharing what worked for us as parents and as teachers during our three months of online learning.
How to Plan for Online Learning
1. Designate a “work only” area for your child that has zero distractions.
This area should only be used for school. It is good to have everyone in the home on the same page and in a positive mindset centered around online learning.
2. Shop for the school year the same way that you would normally.
4. Include breaks.
5. Create a check list for assignments/ lessons for each day.
- Include time slots on the agenda – we organized activities by morning (writing, reading, and Spanish) and afternoon (math and electives).
- Have your child mark off the item once they’ve completed it.
- Be sure to include the breaks on the agenda as well.
- If your child doesn’t complete a lesson (or has trouble understanding the lesson) have them highlight this area on their agenda. They can complete this the following day or be used as a reminder to contact the teacher with questions on that particular assignment.
6. Contact the teacher ASAP if you do not have access to essential items like a printer or the internet.
- Request printed, hard copies of instructional packets for your child. Contact the teacher(s) and schedule a time for pick up and drop off.
- Using a cell phone as an option – many online platforms such as Google Classroom and SeeSaw have mobile apps to be used for online learning if a student does not have access to a computer.
- Library computers – contact your local library to see what your options are.
7. Know the tools that are being used.
8. Be present
Some common questions that you can ask:
- “What was your favorite lesson today?”
- “Which assignment(s) can I help you with today?”
- “Are you feeling anxious or frustrated with any of your lessons?”
- “What were you proud of today during online learning?”
9. Try not to get discouraged
Virtual learning takes time to adapt to. Your child might seem excited at first but as time progresses you may find that their mood changes.
- Listen to this podcast by Rachel Wigglesworth (Founder of Growing Great Families) to receive advice on tackling online learning as a family.
- Sticky note feedback – Leave a sticky note on your child’s workspace as encouragement each night.
Encourage your child to check in with their teacher(s) periodically even if they do not have any questions or concerns. When a student feels connected with their teacher they are more invested in their learning.