6 Ways to Make the Most of Online School
Online schooling is officially underway. Whether you had a great start or ended every day in tears (and maybe not just from the kids!), you’re not alone out there. As classes get rolling and the pace is picking up – we’ve got some ways to help you make the most of online school.
Remember to start simple – once you’ve succeeded, push a little further! This builds a ramp to continued success.
Set Expectations and Gradually Build Success
Setting clear, reachable expectations is the most valuable thing you can do for your kids. Expectations are at the root of feeling like a success or a trainwreck. So have an honest conversation with yourself and then your kids about what your family expects from online school and how you’ll work together to succeed.
Remember to start simple – once you’ve succeeded, push a little further! This builds a ramp to continued success, instead of feeling like a failure because you or your kids aren’t reaching goals.
Instead of setting an expectation that kids independently remember and complete all their work (likely too high a bar to start), say that kids ask a parent to check if anything is missing before ending school for the day. After succeeded there, add in the expectation to check their google classroom (or whatever their teacher is using) before asking. Before long that independence will be there!
Focus on Key Concepts
The unfortunate reality is online learning just cannot cover the same depth and breadth of content as regular school. So this year, make your focus the key concepts that kids need to succeed. If your child can keep up with reading comprehension, strong writing, and math skills – that’s a success! Everything else, while important, is icing.
Last spring one of our 5th graders was incredibly overwhelmed by online learning. After school, he had about an hour of focus left, and homework was frequently left unfinished – something had to go. So we and his parents nixed state capitals. We reviewed enough so he knew a few and wouldn’t embarrass himself by saying NYC was the capital of New York – and then we focused on fractions.
Focus on Growth & Effort
Next is a lesson gleaned from growth mindset thinking (we love growth mindset over here!). Focus on and reward a child’s effort and growth, not the results. So many things are beyond a child’s control that affect their end result: connectivity issues, distractions at home, regular ol’ confusion. Sometimes they won’t get it. And that’s okay. Instead, focus on what they did in response (their effort) and help them develop strategies to growth.
One of our 3rd graders grades plummeted after moving online. We discovered she was nervous on video calls and had stopped asking questions. Instead of telling her to get better grades (result), we taught her how to private chat her teacher, hide other student videos, and ask her tutor to review with her (efforts). When she asked for help, we praised her! She started to feel confident and, consequently, those grades went up too.
Communicate (positively!) with Teachers
Good communication is the only way we are going to make online learning work this year! If you haven’t already, send a friendly hello-and-thanks-for-being-my-child’s-teacher email to open a line of communication. Every teacher I know is up at all hours learning new teaching methods and reworking lessons for online. Acknowledge that work and thank them for doing it – they are people too, who are exhausted and working with limited energy.
Then, as questions come up or problems arise, you’ve already built a good rapport. Asking for additional support or accommodations will go much more smoothly. The parent-teacher relationship is just that, a relationship, so start yours off on a good foot with gratitude and respect!
The parent-teacher relationship is just that, a relationship, so start yours on a good foot with gratitude and respect!
Separate School & Play Spaces
Those of us working from home know the challenge to shift between work and home life when our computer/planner/binders stare us in the face. Kids are no different. Creating a physical divide helps kids switch from work mode to rest/play mode – necessary for recharging and processing their daily learning.
With 4 kids, one dad didn’t have a space outside the kids’ rooms for them to work. So he tossed up some simple wall hooks to hang a sheet to hide the desk area. When school was over, up went the sheet and on to the rest of their day!
Do the Best You Can!
Even with all the right strategies in place, the right support systems, the right mindsets – things aren’t going to be perfect. It gets said a lot, but really, this is unprecedented and we’re all learning as we go. We’ll learn from the bad days, gain energy from the good ones, and keep forging ahead. If you are doing your best and making efforts to improve – you are a success and on the right path!
And hey – if you need some support that’s okay too! Contact our director, Karyn, or look at our online programs to see if we might be able to lift some of the burden off your shoulders as you work hard to ensure your children grow and thrive during online learning.
We'd love to partner with you to give your child the support and encouragement they need to succeed. We know every child is unique and our director would love to speak with you about how we can best support you and your child.
We're sure you've got questions, so send them our way!