In light of the shift to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, schools, districts and organizations are uploading a variety of learning resources for families. Before using these newly discovered resources, there are a few general tips for parents on optimizing outcome potential via remote learning and learning at home. Some suggestions include the following basic considerations:
- Create an environment conducive to remote learning:
-Set a schedule that allows for flexibility and gives kids some agency in choosing their activities. Remote learning does not need to mirror the length or intensity of the traditional school day.
-Build breaks, unstructured time, and time for physical activity into the day. Activities such as cooking or spending time outside can be opportunities for families to bond and for informal learning to take place.
-If possible, designate a distraction-free zone where kids can regularly do school-related work. Otherwise, turn off televisions, cellphones, and minimize noise[i.e., remove smaller kids, pets…] in the space you do have.
- Communicate often with teachers. Ask questions and inform them of challenges and successes. Request resources, links and strategies about how you can continue to help your child from home. You want high-interest materials, too. Teachers are your best sources of information. Keep in touch.
- Parents and guardians should try to be patient with themselves. Remote learning will not look the same for every family. Besides, this type of learning is new for parent, child and educator. We are all existing within this new reality and are learning to navigate it all. Be patient.
If you have children under age 10 in the home, know this:
- Children need routines. At day care and school, children know what to expect. At home, things are less clear. Creating a schedule each day and talking about it can allow time to work and time to play. In terms of morning routines, breakfast should still be in the morning, but a little extra sleep won’t hurt. Follow with a short walk or stretching exercises. Children aren’t good at being sedentary, and it’s important to feed into their natural tendencies. For you,[and your child] serotonin, the ‘feel good’ chemical neurotransmitter naturally found in the brain, gets all stirred up. What a way to begin the day!
- Screen time? It’s discretionary, as the data is not clear as to whether watching Disney+ all day is harmful or helpful for children. The younger children are, the more limited their screen time should be. Besides video chat, experts argue for no screens before age 2. To find the best options for children ages 3 and older, according to a Brookings Institution article, Common Sense Media is a good place to go.
- Cultivate their inner artist. Young children can paint, while older kids can make a mini-movie[on their cellphones is good] and try out editing skills. Your child can be the author and illustrator of his or her own book. Maybe a cartoonist, and build a host of cognitive and social skills.
- Make music. Music is a real relief, and it builds important executive functioning skills of attention, memory and impulse control. Music is also related to math learning. When you put water in a bottle and blow in it, you get a sound.And when you change the water level, the sound gets higher and lower. That’s adding science to music. Clap your hands to a beat. What about a hip-hop beat? Play a game like “Simon” where the beats get ever more complex and your child tries to repeat the pattern. Anyone remember “DDR”[Dance, Dance Revolution]? Make up a rap song together.
- Act out a scene from a play. Research shows acting can help children learn. Younger kids can pretend to be lions, tigers or bears. Older children can create their own show with costumes gathered from your own closet. Encourage creativity!
- Learn about the world around you. Pick an interesting topic and research it together on the web. Take a virtual tour through Google Street View. Find a science experiment on YouTube. Take virtual tours of national parks, museums and zoos. Even some Broadway productions are accessible online. All experiences are free, too!
- Take a field trip to your backyard. There are lots of things to find and explore outdoors. Those nuisance yellow flowers that come up in your beautiful green grass- pick one and discover its scientific name and identify it. Many yards have random rocks somewhere. Pick up a few to paint different colors and patterns. Nail polish works just fine for painting small rocks. Nature is amazing!
We know that your home is very busy these days, with juggling work you may be doing from home and your children’s schoolwork. Think ahead. All you need is a bit of creativity and your time at home with the kids can prove to be both educational and fun for everyone. Think of these moments at home with your children as ‘bonding’ experiences while enjoying quality time with the family!