Updated: Jul 26, 2020
Online learning should never require the support of a parent as regular classroom learning should never require the support of a parent. If a student can’t do the work online, they can reach out to their instructor for support. It is not expected from you, as a parent, to actually teach at this point in time. If you are able to clarify things here and there, that is acceptable, but asking you to administer curriculum at this time is not something you will need to be doing. Communicate this with your school board. Ask for modified work, if needed. It is unprecedented time for everyone. Teaching students online, some with learning disabilities, without the support from educators, is quite challenging even for students without learning disabilities. If they are moving along the content with ease, let them be. If they are struggling, reach out. Move on to the next task. Keep a growth mindset and tell yourself, “they are still learning.” It’s also a chance to learn different things. Like, cleaning, cooking, organizing, gardening, reading something fun, watching interesting documentaries, etc.
Students will be receiving numerous emails, texts messages from remind or whatsapp, zoom invites, online course updates, and so many more notifications. If you are a parent of younger ages, you will be the one receiving all these messages! It can be overwhelming, considering a parent who has more than one kid, in more than one school or class! As a parent, you need to decide now, “what is the most important for my child?” Teachers will be working overtime to send out as much information to parents. Some parents will embrace this, some will not. You decide what you will do with it. For younger students, focus on learning in a holistic way. You will not be able to communicate or teach some of the content in certain subjects, as most of the content sent to you has not been adapted to online or independent learning. Skip that! Also, take into account the time you can afford to spend on interpreting and teaching something that someone has been doing this as a career and has quite a bit of education and training in designing learning. Use websites that offer arts, stories, virtual tours, and history videos. Ask the little ones to draw pictures, or write the 3 take aways from what they just watched. Select one or two activities a day sent by a teacher to focus on and allow for plenty of work time. Working alone, without support or accommodations can be somewhat frustrating when learning a new concept, therefore, don’t try to teach them a new concept.
As a teacher for the public board, we have been advised to “do nothing,” until we have an organized, uniformed system, across the board that is regulated and administered from trained online educators and it is user friendly and very, very slim in its content. Please remember, as a parent, you are under a lot of pressure during this time. Most of you work from home, and now, so do your children. Your home environment was not necessarily designed for this, and some families have children in different age groups; teens, babies, or grandparents at home.
The silver lining to shifting to online learning is that it will make for some very strong and independent learners. If done properly, learners will have a lot more freedom to explore learning in different ways, select methods that work for them, use their time more efficiently, personalize their learning, have time to get into content and flow, and be able to share this on different platforms that are currently used in the workplace. Having said that, some of the shortcomings of online learning is the lack of the social and collaborative aspect in adolescent learning. The story telling, the class discussions, the jokes, the laughter, lunchtime, sports, or team building activities, being able to read social ques and body language, asking questions, bonding with peers and teachers. Online learning has great potential but we are a social species. In addition to that, teachers live and breathe for these interactions; they design learning to challenge and spark ideas and conversations. These moments are trivialized online; somewhat missed opportunities. Therefore, it is very important that even though we might be moving to online learning for the foreseeable future, allowing for home discussions, that are stimulating, dedicating, and might include friends via facetime or zoom, are so valuable.
Focus on mindfulness. Be in the moment. You are not asked to take on a new role. You can take this time to relish in the time with your family. Be a family. Spend quality time. Let the online learning take care of itself and you take care of yourself and your loved ones. Kids miss so much from school but you can let them get to know you and what you have learned from life. Kids love stories, discussions, learning about the adults in their lives, yes, even their teachers. Ask them questions about their life. How will they remember this time? What are they learning about the world, globalization, economies, politics? You’ll be amazed at what they have to say!
Above all, teachers miss your kids. They are not cut out to work from home and they are definitely not office space people. They might be overloading your teens with work. It is out of concern and care. They want them to do well. They don’t know what else to do to help. Reach out to them. Ask for help. Ask them to slow down. Ask them to simplify. Ask them to exempt work. This is very new to everyone. Be understanding with teens and teachers. They now have to navigate a whole new world together. Be compassionate with yourself. You have so much to handle right now. We are all in this together.