Now that we are engaged in Distance Learning due to Covid prevention protocols, it’s time to share a few tips on how to experience a stress-free startup at home with Distance Learning. This week’s Tuesday Tip focuses on the beginning basics for Distance Learning from home.
The first tip is to set clear expectations. This starts with sitting with your child in a distraction-free time and location to explain to them what Distance Learning is and why it is happening. If your child understands why they are no longer going to school in person, they can better adapt to and accept visiting with their teacher and classmates on the computer. Set expectations about your rules of Distance Learning from home. Explain that the teacher has classroom rules and expectations in the classroom, and now your home is that classroom and will also have new rules and expectations too. The best rules are rules created with your child, not to your child. Get a poster paper and allow your child to help write the “home” classroom rules together. This way they have ownership and buy-in to the rules you want them to follow. Of course, you can lead them towards the rules you want by having a conversation a little like this:
Parent: What things do you think we should always have ready for our “computer school?” Do you think we should always have all of our materials prepared? Like paper, pencils, books, etc?
Parent: That will be our first rule. “Always be prepared.”
Parent: What kind of noise should we have during our “computer school” time? Do you think we should have the TV going? Should we be allowing other people around us playing with toys?
Child: No. We should have a quiet classroom.
Parent: Great. That will be our second rule. “Keep the computer-classroom a quiet zone.”
Include your child in creating the “classroom” rules and then have your child and the other people in the house sign at the bottom of the posted rules. Their signature is their commitment to follow the rules.
Second, post a daily schedule. Build into your schedule your child’s zoom meeting times as the priority. Schedule in “classwork” in Seesaw. Schedule in “recess, snack time and lunch break” as well. Try to create a schedule which balances and breaks apart the time spent on the computer. Provide some art time and music time too. A balanced day will be fun and something your child will look forward to. Kindergarten children should rarely work more than 45 minutes on one task. PreSchool children should be limited to 15-20 minutes per task, and PreKindergarten children about 20-25 minutes per task. Every child is different. You know your child best, so provide them with timings that keep them energized and positive.
Third, let’s talk about behavior expectations. Although you may have created the Distance Learning “home” classroom rules, expectations, and schedule with your child, he or she may still want to be the “boss” of the home learning experiences. Be ready to remind your child that learning and completing lessons Monday through Friday are not optional. Seesaw lessons, zoom meetings and the activities listed online by your homeroom teacher are a must-do. You may want to set up a reward system for reaching a goal you set together for the work you are planning on accomplishing each new week. (Careful! Do not give the reward if your child didn’t complete the agreed upon work.) Catch your child doing it right! When your child has worked hard, give them a high five. Tell them how proud you are of them and their hard work. Talk to other family members about how your child is dedicated to “computer school” and has finished everything the teacher has asked for. Offer encouragement. Talk to them when they are struggling and seek a solution without arguing. Avoid battles. I love this saying, “The battle not fought, is the battle won.” You are still the parent. You are still the adult in control of the home. So, you will need to stay one step ahead of problems you may predict will come with a child who doesn’t want to complete the schoolwork.
And lastly, please stay involved in your child’s Distance Learning. Your child will show commitment to continued learning and will try their best if they know you are doing it with them. Show you are there for them by sitting at their side during their zoom times. Limit the time that grandparents or Ayis are given this role. Your child needs your time, attention, and support during these changes. I’m not saying grandparents or Ayis are less important or cannot do any of the support work. What I am saying is that you should be the main overseer of their success and participation. Please stay involved, now more than ever.
Know that you are not alone. We are all going through this together. Here in the EC Division, we are ready to communicate with you when you need the advice or support. Dr. Alice is offering parent zoom meetings to further support you. Your classroom teachers are staying in close communication throughout the day. Reach out to your friends.