Many of our children are spending more time at home and less time in the classroom during the pandemic. This has led parents to question, “I’m not a teacher, so what do I do?” The experts have some tips that can help you guide your children through the learning process.
“Focus on structure and routine,” Leslie Muha, Junior K-8 Counselor at University School suggested. “If your school is hybrid and some students are in school, mirror their schedule. Set up a work space at home. You want your students to be able to remove themselves from the stress of the day. Set up a chair with a desk so that boundaries don’t become muddied. Establish a day and night routine. Allow time for lunch and recess.”
“Zoom fatigue is real. Video calls are draining. For every hour on the computer, take a two to four-minute brain break,” she said.
“Family dinner is so important. Go outside and take a walk. Enjoy story time with your children. Sleep and healthy eating are important,” Muha added.
“Be kind to yourself and practice grace. Celebrate the days when things go well and on the rough days, remember that tomorrow is a new day,” she said. “It’s not the primary job of parents to teach. Their job is to model self-care for their children. Trust the school. So, if there are rough spots, know that you can always reach out to the school’s teachers and counselors.”
“The first thing you should do when teaching at home is to pay attention to how you communicate with your children,” Alexandra Franceschini, Department of Learning Services chair at Hathaway Brown School said. “Ask them to show you what they did today and what they learned. It shows you the quality of their work. And, it gives you an overview of their effort and the difficulty of the work. Then, you can talk through problem-solving steps. It helps students maintain a sense of balance when things around them are changing.”
“Remote learning is technology. There are ways you can avoid feeling overwhelmed by technology,” she said. “I use the Hide Myself option so that I don’t see my own picture when I am in a Zoom meeting. I find that, if I can see myself, I look at myself more, which is odd. If I can’t see myself, I am concentrating on the other people in the meeting. When you are working with middle schoolers, for example, this is helpful because they are so concerned about how they present to each other.”
“Make sure that you have a proper chair. Make sure that you have a drink nearby. Make sure that you have something to keep your hands busy. I always have a pen and a pad of paper nearby to jot down notes,” Franceschini said. “Keep your brain and your body together.”
“Procrastination can be a problem when learning at home. We talk about deadlines. Open-ended deadlines can be a detriment,” she noted. “Establish a routine and a cut-off time. We really crave structure. Set a deadline time for assignments and stick to it. Keep reminding the student that their deadline is approaching. If you don’t set a deadline, they could be sitting in front of the computer at 11:30 p.m. with nothing done.”
“The students really just want to be back in the classroom. Their parents want the same,” she said. “The students and their parents want permission to approach the teachers and counselors. Any time that you see something that is concerning, sending an email or a message to school is most helpful to us. It is helpful to communicate your concerns. We’re a team in all of this. We don’t want concerns to pile up to the point that they explode. That is a lot harder to fix.”