The Power of Parents - Tips for Successful Online Learning
Parents, public officials and teachers need to ensure the safety and wellbeing of school age students while ensuring they learn. The Covid–19 pandemic has changed the way we have to think about educating our students.
During the spring closure of school buildings, one point about education was made very clear; Parents provide powerful support for student academic success. During the past spring quarter, I spoke to parents who had access to technology and had internet connection, but could not get their child to do the schoolwork. Many of these students were successful in school, but were reluctant or refused to do the work at-home. Parents were at a loss as to how to motivate their child to do the work required. Teachers cannot do much to motivate a student to work online because we have no control over home learning environment. But parents do have that control. Parents are powerful.
At the end of the spring quarter I polled my students to find out about their at-home habits for doing schoolwork. Some students were very successful while others struggled. The difference between success and lack of success was striking. Based on what I learned, I have created a short list of tips for successful online learning. These tips are appropriate for all ages. I hope this list of tips helps parents set up the at-home learning environment that will enable your child be successful in school.
1. Set up a school schedule and stick to it
Students thrive with predictable routines. Start the school schedule with a motivational song, chant, dance or game. Write your schedule on a paper, or white board so you and your child can refer to it. Set timers if that helps your child stay on a schedule. Students should attend all online real-time classes, like a Zoom class. The schedule should include time to eat a meal or snack, exercise and relax. Working on schoolwork everyday is important for learning. The repetition of information and time to reflect on the information improves memory and learning, so schedule a time to review the learning of the day.
2. Dress for success
There is something about the clothes that we put on that impact the way we behave. When students wear their “Sunday best” they tend to behave is a dignified and quiet fashion. When they wear their pajamas, they are sleepy, relaxed even lethargic. When they wear school appropriate clothes (a school uniform) students tend to feel ready for learning. Be sure they are in their school clothes every day.
3. Set up a physical learning space.
Having an area in the house, which is dedicated to be the learning space, is important. Especially for younger students, having a place in the house that is uncluttered but with school materials handy, helps them decipher between work time and play time. Be sure to remove any distractions from their area like a T.V. or cell phone. Make sure that it is quiet so that they can concentrate on the work. Make the environment pleasant with a motivational poster or a board with learning goals, soft music, learning tips, motivational notes or funny pictures.
4. Education as an enjoyable expectation
Students of all ages need to know that their parents expect them to learn the material. So ask your students what they are learning. Let them know that the material is interesting and exciting. Discuss the information and if you know something about it, tell your child what you know. Help them understand that what they are learning is interesting and exciting. If your child is learning a topic you are not familiar with, ask them to explain it to you. I did this as my children began studying advanced mathematics. I asked them to explain what they were learning and how it might be applied to solve real-life problems.
5. Be familiar with the Learning Management Systems your school is using
In Euclid City Schools elementary schools will be using Google Classrooms to deliver educational materials and the middle and high schools will be using Schoology and our district online grade book is Infinite Campus. Learn how to access and get information from these systems. Check them at least twice a week to make sure that you know what is assigned and whether your child is completing the work. If your child is not completing the work, ask your child why. Remember, it is your expectation that they do the work and learn.
6. Contact the teacher early with problems
Teachers can only help students if they know there is a problem. If the child does not complete the work because they do not understand it, the teacher should be contacted as soon as possible. Courses are not self-paced and due dates need to be met. So if your young child is having a problem with material, contact the teacher as soon as possible. If your child is in middle or high school, encourage them to contact the teacher as soon as possible.
Remember parents. You are the most important teacher a child can have. You already teach your child community values, how to behave appropriately, what it means to have a work ethic, how to care for themselves and more. Support your child at home because, parents, you provide the most powerful support for student academic success.
Elizabeth Munro, M. Ed.