As we enter another week of distance learning, social media posts about homeschooling horrors are growing more rampant.
Published: April 13, 2020
By: Jennifer Jhon
Students are being “expelled,” parents are being “suspended for drinking on the job,” and calls have been put out to raise teacher’s pay to CEO levels. (One of those calls was mine; they deserve it!)
As the weeks progress, parents are learning valuable lessons about how to help their students succeed. Here are some of the top tips we’ve picked up along the way:
- Use your lifelines. You might not be trying to Be a Millionaire, but you are trying to find out the correct assignment/textbook/website/solution, so don’t forget to use the lifelines provided: Ask the Expert (teacher), Ask the Audience (other students in the class) and Phone a Friend (another parent in your child’s class or grade level). All teachers have office hours, and most respond within an hour to student questions. If your student still has questions, have them reach out to their classmates, or text a parent you know.
- Have a watch party. Many assignments in distance learning include videos, but in some households, if adults aren’t watching, kids aren’t watching either. If you can make the time, sit down with your child and help them pay attention to the information. Make personal connections, or just make fun, when you can. Pointing out a place you’ve been, or giggling about poorly drawn animation or how someone pronounces a word, can increase your student’s interest in what you are watching exponentially.
- Be a backseat driver. You might be tempted to take over when your child can’t find information online or can’t open the textbook to a full screen, but let your kids do the driving on the laptop. Teach them how to find what they need, or how to adjust settings, from over their shoulder. They learn better when they do it themselves. Plus, most of them need to learn to type proficiently, so every bit of practice helps.
- Give them a break. You might be used to working on a project for hours at a time, but your kids aren’t, especially the elementary school students. At this point, we do more breaks than classes. Recess is also big. We ride our bikes over to our neighborhood school to pick up lunch. We walk the dog. We watch “How It Should Have Ended” on YouTube. Then we get back to work.
- Don’t you forget about me. Many parents are working from home during the shutdown – or are just trying to supervise several children doing several things – and can’t be two (or three) places at once. Set a timer. It is too easy to get caught up in one task or another and lose track of the time. Next thing you know, it is 4 p.m. and your student has completed only one class, and 15 levels of Geometry Dash. If you need help, put it on your students to check in with you every 30 minutes in order to earn rewards, such as phone time or a 10-minute break.
- Give guilt the boot. There is no easy way to parent during the shutdown. Some parents are attempting to work from home and feel bad about ignoring their children. Others have lost their jobs and have time to sit with their children, but find schoolwork incredibly frustrating. No one is doing this parenting-in-quarantine thing perfectly, despite what their Instagram photos and Facebook feeds look like. Forgive yourself (and your children) for what is past and focus on today. Give what you can, when you can, and be clear (and kind) about what you cannot do. We’ll get through this together.