For some, school has started or is about to start and parent’s are making the choice of sending their kids to school or staying home for remote learning. Some parent’s have no choice and have to deal with remote learning again this year. Not to be confused with homeschooling, remote learning is when the teacher provides assignments and does the assessments, homeschooling is when it’s all on the parents. I thought I would share my insights as a teacher with a few tips for remote learning.
Let’s be real- teaching is HARD! There’s a reason we go to university for five years and have to do three semesters of internships. It takes a lot of work, a lot of planning, and a lot of patience. I can only imagine it’s even harder at home.
I’ve been a substitute teacher for only two years, but this has given me a chance to teach all grades and observe a ton of different teaching styles.
Tips for remote learning I would share with my friends if they asked.
1.) Set a Schedule
Kids do well with routine. While it may seem easier to just work on school whenever they seemed ready, they will do much better with a routine. For elementary age kids, post the schedule somewhere because they like to know what’s ahead. Almost every elementary class I’ve ever been in has a visual calendar so children can see what’s in store for that day.
Set blocks of time like 10-12 or 1-3 and then break them up into 30-45 minutes blocks for subjects. If they finish before that time block is up you can just move on.
2.) Don’t neglect the ‘options’
There is a lot of emphasis on literacy and numeracy, which is VERY important. But I feel like people are devaluing the options such as physical education, art, and music. These aren’t just nice add ons, they are enriching classes that are important to children’s development.
In terms of physical education, unstructured outdoor play is great! But as your kids get older, they’ll lose interest in play and need more structured activities.
There are a lot of individual activities such as golf, running, swimming, biking, and bowling. Set up a basketball hoop in the driveway and have them work on shooting and layups or play one on one.
For us Canadians, winter is coming! I would suggest you invest in ross country skis or snow shoes because it’s a one tine purchase and can get a lot of use. Make a backyard skating rink and have them skate every day.
The ability to read music is not only a skill, but has been proved to help stimulate brain development. Why do you think we stick recorders in kids mouths in elementary school? If you don’t have a musical background, there are a ton of online resources.
If your child is older, maybe this is a chance for them to learn an instrument. While difficult without formal instruction, the experience of self teaching will be great for them! And think outside the classic band instruments to guitar, ukulele, or keyboard too.
I am not an artist in any sort of way but I always enjoy creating something. If you have little kids, the thought of a big mess is a deterrent so stick to simple things. Skip the paint and do crayon rubbings, glue leaves to a piece of paper, make popcorn garland. Keep it simple.
These hands on experiences are entertaining and important fir your child’s fine motor skills.
For the older students, paint, sculpture, paper mache are great options. If they think it’s lame, maybe grab some spray paint and a pallet and let them practice street art. If you’re a sewer, pass on that knowledge.
3.) Read EVERY SINGLE DAY 30-60 minutes minimum
I notice an academic difference between the kids that read every day and the ones that don’t. It’s crucial to take the time and make your children read every single day.
If your kids are very young and can’t read on their own you need top take the time to read with them. Ask them questions after you read to work on their retention. Have them point out certain letters or sight words.
4.) Put pen to paper
With remote learning, you’ll be sent items in digital format. Resist the urge to do it all on your computer and send it back. Everyone needs to do some writing, but younger children in particular need to learn the skill of writing. Print off some of their work sheets and assignments and ensure they practice this skill.
5.) Find pen pals
In relation to tip #4, a great way to practice writing is to have a pen pal and write physical letters. When I was a kid in the 90s, this was such a fun thing for me because it’s always a thrill to get something in the mail as a kid. You can work with another family, connect with a family member, or go online in search of a foreign pen pal.
I highly suggest grandparents/grandparents. They LOVE letters and if they’re in a retirement home, they’re probably on some form of lockdown and would love letters to look forward to. This probably the best of my tips for remote learning because it’s a compassionate service too.
6.) If you can, make a designated space
This is definitely not for everyone. I live in a 735 square foot home, there is no way I could create a designated space. But if you are able to, put aside a space that is just for school work. This will help your children enter the right mindset when they sit down to start.
If you have little learners, you can create word walls and post other visuals you would find in a classroom to help aide their learning.
For your older children, make this a phone free zone. Lessen the distractions so they can focus on the task at hand.
7.) When in doubt, ask the teacher
Curriculum has changed since we went to school,. There are new ways of doing long division that some teachers use. Unless you’re a writer, you likely forgot essay formatting or the meaning of verb, adjective, noun.
Don’t be afraid to ask the teacher for clarification. They want your child to succeed as much as you do. They’ll also be a great resource for more tips for remote learning.
8.) Be patient with yourself and your child(ren)
Take a deep breath and know it’s not going to be perfect. Teaching is hard! Many people leave teh profession after a few years because it’s a frustrating job.
And being a parent and a teacher has got to be a hard thing to balance! Take a deep breath and acknowledge you’re doing the best you can.
You’ve got this!
How was remote learning for you last school year?
Are you dreading or looking forward to teaching your children at home?