Remote learning became a sudden necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, before 2020 and in the years since, it’s been a valid and valued way for children to learn from home. Distance learning allows for greater flexibility so children can learn at their own pace and in their own way. If you’re parenting a remote learner, we have some tips and strategies to help ensure success.
Create an Ideal Workspace
Children who are engaged in remote learning need a dedicated workspace that’s conducive to educational activities. It’s often stressful to sleep where you work and challenging to focus on work when a cozy bed is lurking nearby, so try to keep the bedroom and workspace separate if possible. The ideal workspace is quiet, comfortable, and free from distractions. A spacious home classroom is not realistic for everyone. Still, you will need an area that can accommodate the essential tools of the trade. In this case, you will likely need the following:
- A desktop computer or laptop equipped with a webcam, microphone, and speakers.
- A reliable internet connection.
- Headphones for when the neighbor is mowing the lawn, the baby is crying, or other unavoidable distractions creep in.
- Real-world learning tools such as notebooks, pens, highlighters, note cards, and sticky notes. Younger children may also need manipulatives such as blocks, coins, or clay.
- Adequate work lighting.
Enlist your child’s help setting up this space so they can add personal touches such as colorful school supplies, fun posters, and handy fidget toys. Don’t forget to address comforts such as a supportive chair and a handy water bottle. Make this space both functional and welcoming so that settling in doesn’t feel like an unwelcome chore.
Make a Clear Calendar
For many families, one of the best perks of remote learning is its flexibility. Want to try roadschooling, take a vacation, or need to adjust your family’s sleep schedule for a parent who works the second shift? Not a problem. You can work around a variety of schedules and lifestyles when you take a mindful approach to your distance learning courses. However, you’ll probably have difficulty maintaining your path if you don’t keep a calendar.
Find a system that works for your family, whether it’s a paper calendar, dry-erase board, or shared app. Highlight courses with scheduled activities such as a Zoom meeting, real-time online class, or virtual study session. Next, fill in the remainder of your school schedule with daily and weekly goals. Review the requirements for each class and target a particular day to complete essential tasks such as watching course videos, reading assigned materials, completing assignments, and studying.
While you can often be flexible about the hours your student works, be sure to check in and ensure they’re putting in dedicated effort each day. You don’t want to scramble to cover a three-month course one week before finals.
Consider Your Daily Routine
While you don’t have to follow the same strict schedule every day with distance learning, having a routine is still beneficial to help your kids stay on-task. Left to their own devices, they may prioritize play and find themselves cramming in schoolwork at the end of the day. Students actually learn best when they utilize a strategy called spacing. They’ll retain more with a series of short 30-minute study sessions than they will over an intense 2.5-hour block of crunch time.
Virtual classes allow students to learn at their own pace, which is fantastic. However, they need to keep moving steadily forward at that pace, whatever it is. Consider setting aside dedicated “school time” in the morning and afternoon to ensure students stay on task. You can intersperse different activities and include plenty of brain breaks to suit your child’s needs. Having a predictable schedule from day to day will help kids plan ahead and know what to anticipate.
Locate Your Best Resources
Online learning is very freeing, but it can also be isolating. At home, you don’t have access to the same abundance of resources that you’ll find in a traditional school setting equipped with a library, gymnasium, art class, music room, and science lab. When you’re learning from home, it’s important to identify the available resources in your community. Find your local library and contact them to learn about their offerings. Many library systems offer a wide variety of rentals, including instruments, microscopes, e-readers, craft kits, and more.
Learn about the museums, parks, art galleries, theaters, and rec centers in your area as well. Is there a gym you can visit a few times a week for physical fitness? Can you sign up for season tickets to musical and theatrical shows? Are there hands-on museums in your area that offer family memberships for frequent visitors? Expand your child’s learning experience beyond your home classroom for the most enriching educational experience possible.
Find a Community of Like-Minded Learners
One of the most challenging things about learning remotely is the lack of social interaction. Some programs make up for this with virtual discussion groups or Zoom sessions, but this isn’t the same as sharing lunch, recess, and extracurricular activities with friends and peers. Parents can also feel lonely in this type of environment, lacking a parent-teacher organization to join, class parties to volunteer for, and award ceremonies to cheer at.
Fortunately, distance learning has only grown in popularity, and now remote learners are hardly alone. You simply have to find your people. Connect with your library to inquire about classes, reading clubs, and homeschool groups you might be able to join. Look for educational courses or homeschool and remote learning support groups at your local community center. Most areas have an abundance of helpful amenities for those dedicated enough to find them.
Remote learning is ideal for children with learning disorders who need an environment that can cater to their unique needs. If you suspect that your child is struggling with a reading disorder, mathematics disorder, written expression disorder, or another challenge, our team at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights can help. Contact us for a diagnostic assessment to discover the best way to help your child reach their full potential.