School is back and it looks like most students in Massachusetts will continue remote learning or a hybrid of remote and in-person classes. We were all surprised by the change last year and had to make sudden adjustments. This year, we have the benefit of experience and a little more time to prepare. Given that COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise and the return to a regular school schedule is unlikely before a vaccine is released, we thought it would be helpful to share some remote learning tips for students.
1 – Find a Dedicated Learning Space
Doing homework at the kitchen table is okay as a short-term solution. However, for long-term remote learning, a dedicated learning space may be more effective. Place a desk and comfortable chair in a quiet space in your home that is well lit. Make sure there’s enough room for the computer/laptop and books. Place school supplies such as pencils, crayons, scissors and notebooks, within easy reach. This should be a productive space where your children can focus on learning.
2 – Minimize Distractions
Distractions are the most difficult part of both working from home for adults and remote learning for kids. When it’s time for your children to do schoolwork, eliminate as many distractions as possible. This means turning off the television, placing the pets in a separate room, and taking away electronics that are not related to school work.
3 – Create a Schedule
One of the most important remote learning tips is to create a schedule. Children are creatures of habit. They thrive on structure and predictability. Setting a schedule lets them know what to expect. If the remote learning schedule is flexible, be sure to spread learning into smaller segments of time throughout the day. Include breaks for free-time (where they can choose what to do) and physical activity. It can be difficult to sit at a desk for hours at a time, so the mixed schedule can help them better cope.
4 – Include Social Interaction
One of the toughest parts of remote learning is the lack of direct social interaction with others. To provide a balance between online learning and in-person contact, you’ll need to get creative. We’ve heard of some families forming a learning circle with other children from the class. Kids get together once a week to complete assignments such as art, reading, or physical education. Of course, you’ll want to take precautions such as wearing masks and retaining social distancing.
If high risk family members make learning circles too risky, there are things you can do within your own home. You and other family members can participate with children. The key is to have dedicated time where your children are being active or learning with other people and not just interacting with a computer.
5 – Promote Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is one of the benefits of in-person learning. It’s difficult to provide with online learning. As a parent, you must own this responsibility. As you help your children complete assignments and solve problems, remember to praise them for their hard work and accomplishments. This applies to non-school related things as well, such as chores. Positive reinforcement will keep them motivated, help with self-esteem, and may even counteract sadness and depression.
Summary of Remote Learning Tips
We understand how at-home learning can be challenging for both students and parents. We hope the above remote learning tips will help make this school year a little bit less stressful than the last. By creating a productive learning space, adding some structure, blending in-person social interaction, and intentionally applying positive reinforcement, you can help your children thrive during these unusual times.