So here you are, in the Brave New World of managing your child's education from home. It's the Wild West, believe me.
Your child's school might be offering online classes to bridge the gap, or you might have enrolled your kids in an online platform, like Outschool or Polyhistoria, because you know it's going to be a long haul, and you would like them to do more than MineCraft, Fortnite, TikTok, SnapChat, YouTube, or Call of Duty.
Just slap a computer in front of them, right? And walk away. Boom. Done.
If you're lucky, maybe....but realistically, there's a great deal YOU can do to set them up (figuratively AND literally) for success.
1. Know the time and date of the class. I am not even kidding on this one. If you have a family calendar (we use iCal), put it in there, and PRINT THAT SHIT OFF. I promise you: best use of ink ever.
2. Know the website AND the login credentials needed. This could include a url, a password, an email, a username, or any other element provided to you when you registered. Don't "hope" you'll remember: you won't. Write it down.
3. Figure out what materials your child needs BEFORE the class. Most online educators will have a 'Classroom' where they post relevant information for learners. There could be pre-reading, class introductions, worksheets, videos, materials you need to order from Amazon, etc., learning materials (for instance, for my son's class today, I needed to buy a Voltmeter), and - of course - pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, highlighters, rulers, paper AND A PLACE AND SYSTEM TO STORE THIS STUFF.
4. Load/Figure out the class software BEFORE the class. Sometimes you need to download a specific packet of software, sometimes you need to figure out how the video and audio works, sometimes you need to check your internet connection/speed. Whatever it is, sort it out BEFOREHAND. It's incredibly stressful for your child to be sitting there, watching as the class starts, and they don't know what to do or how to make it work. (it's stressful for you, too, by the way)
5. Have a dedicated learning space. This should be a place where they can sit, have their materials and devices around them, and have the screen so they're not looking down at the computer/screen. Trust me when I tell you that it's brutal to watch an online class this way. After a while your head and eyes hurt so much, you can no longer learn. Also, make sure the lighting is adequate, there is little extra noise, and that their seat is comfortable. A kitchen table is just fine, provided you elevate materials accordingly. I know one student in Manhattan that uses a pantry. Whatever works.
6. Feed them regularly, and make sure there is a beverage - water, ideally - at their learning station. The brain needs this to learn. Even if your child "hates water", you might be surprised at how much they'll sip just sitting there.
7. Have bathroom breaks BEFORE class starts.
8. Teach your child how to stop/start the screen AND how to mute the volume. Nobody needs to hear you yelling for the dog or freaking on your other child because they didn't do their homework.
9. Remind your children that SPAMMING THE CHAT IS NOT OK. If you don't know what this is, let me enlighten you: most online classes have a chat feature where instructors let students contribute and ask questions. However, a number of children haven't seemed to figure out that writing lines of text like, "WEEEEeeeeeeEEEEE" and "wkla;sdh[osibahpfbaspfboi" is not especially helpful (and hugely distracting). Be present. Watch for the behaviour. If your child can't control themselves, have the instructor turn your child's chat function off from their end. It's a learning session, not a behavioural free-for-all.
10. Remove all extra devices from the learning area. This means no phones for texting, iPods for music, iPads for YouTube, etc. Seems obvious, I know, but it's a real thing, and it means your child is neither learning, nor respecting the learning situation and educator. You probably won't be popular. Oh well.
11. Know what the instructor wants your child to do between classes and WRITE IT DOWN. Know the due date. Know the details of the assignment, reading, etc., and don't believe your children when they say, "Oh, there's no assignment" or "it's already done." CHECK. It may make you unpopular, but again - oh well. You're not a parent to win a popularity contest: you're a parent to love a child and make sure they don't grow up to be punks.
12. Don't walk away and assume your child is learning. Check in. Be there. Walk by and touch their hair. Ask what they learned and if they had a good time. Online learning isn't the same as classroom learning, and it can be very lonely. Don't forget that.
Until next time!
Hello! My name is Donna, and I'm a home-educator (10+years) of two gifted boys (now grades 9/10 and 6/7). My PhD is in Education (Curriculum, Teaching and Learning), and I'm a Certified Professional Coach (CPC). I own two companies - Raconteur Spoken Arts Studio and The Eloquence Equation (website being revamped as we speak!). Check out my 'About' page for more dirt! ~cheers~ donna
Raconteur Spoken Arts Studio. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.