How to Oversee Your Child's Online Learning
By Nikki Wilson, FLVS Global eSolutions Specialist
Many parents are feeling as though they are sailing into uncharted waters as they make the shift to online learning. As an online educator with elementary children who have taken a few online courses, I have been at the helm of online education in more ways than one. As parents learn to navigate our new normal due to COVID-19, we must be reminded that we are here to support their experience through the transition to online learning.
Here are a few tips to monitoring and supporting your child’s online learning experience. You are on your way to smooth sailing!
Create a Designated Space for Learning
Just as I would recommend that anyone who works from home create a workspace, our learners should have a designated space for learning. Regardless of age, this should be a space that is easily monitored by a parent or guardian. Younger learners will need more support, but consider the level of independence if you have a middle school or high school student. How often will they become distracted by online games instead of working on tasks? How much support will they need from you? If you have multiple children, consider anchoring them in the same area. This way, you can monitor them at the same time. If they are easily distracted (or easily distract each other), then set up their learning space in separate areas.
Pro Tip: If your child is easily distracted, set up this area away from windows, televisions, or anything else that will pull him/her away from his/her work.
Design a (Flexible) Schedule
At their brick-and-mortar school, our children are on a schedule. Should they be on a similar schedule at home with online learning? Yes and no. Yes, they should have a daily “to-do” list. No, they do not have to be bound to time constraints. You know your children best: if they need an itinerary set to times, help them make one. If they prefer a list of tasks to complete for the day, map it out together. Remember, students are not sitting still for hours on end listening to direct instruction or completing independent work. Whatever schedule you and your child create, be sure to incorporate playtime, rest time, creative time, or any other time that your child needs. Consider these moments their electives!
Pro Tip: Use a whiteboard to outline your children’s schedule for the week. Using a visual helps with motivation as they check off their completed tasks!
Take Frequent Breaks
Whether it be a trip to the “galley” for a snack or some quiet time in their “cabin,” frequent breaks should be built into the day. Should they be scheduled to the minute? No. Should they have a time limit? No. Every individual has his/her own attention span, and many times, that attention span varies with the task being performed. In a brick-and-mortar classroom, breaks are built-in throughout the day. This should also be the case in the student’s online learning experience.
Pro Tip: Allow these to happen organically. Don’t get too hung up on the schedule and to-do list.
Check-In On Progress
Each week, on a day of your choosing, review your child’s progress and grades. Along with your child, go through the checklist of tasks to be completed for the week and determine what is left to be completed. In addition, review your child’s grades (if applicable) on recent assignments. If your child is struggling with a particular assignment or in a specific subject area, make a plan to discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher.
Pro Tip: Thursday or Friday are great for this!
Communicate With The Teacher
All hands on deck are necessary to support the success of your child. Consider the best way to communicate with the teacher...is it via email? Phone call? Text? Set this up from the beginning with the teacher to ensure you are on the same page. Chances are, your child’s teacher is navigating new waters as well, and maintaining open lines of communication is key. Reaching out once a week or bi-weekly is enough unless additional support is needed for your child. If your child has multiple teachers, once a month is enough unless additional support is needed.
Pro Tip: Teachers are missing their students! They need some virtual love, too. Send them a fun video, email, text, and/or photo to brighten their day!
When you (or your child) are feeling like abandoning ship, walk away. Take a moment to breathe. Allow the mind and body to reset. Our children are still kids. They deserve time to play or engage in a safe hobby. As parents, we deserve the same. Our children, no matter the age, will feed off of our energy and reactions. They sense it, and our empaths feel it. Know that it is okay to walk away. Remember, the work will be there tomorrow; if they can come back to it, let them.
Pro Tip: When you feel your heart rate increasing, find a quiet space (even if it is your bathroom or closet), close your eyes, and count 10 deep breaths.
Although you may feel as if you have just been promoted from first mate to captain of your child’s education, remember this: your child needs you now more than ever. They do not expect you to become the teacher. Their teachers do not expect you to become the teacher. They expect you to guide them in every way possible through these rough waters. Happy sailing!
Exploring online options for your child’s education? Florida Virtual School just may be the solution for you. Learn more about how learning meets life with Florida Virtual School.