In a previously published article that related to education and its evolution in Barbados, it was noted that parent support is vital as the nation advances into this new realm of learning.
As such, the African Heritage Foundation (AHF) is of the opinion that parents and guardians of children that are now applying distance learning as part and parcel of their learning methodology, should be armed with information that sets them up for success.
1. Set (and keep) a schedule
The closer this is to a ‘school schedule,’ the easier it will likely be on everyone. You obviously can (and probably should) revise whatever you come up with at first to fit your circumstance at home (your work schedule, sleeping schedules, etc.). But once you’ve got something that works, stick to it. And this almost certainly means to use some sort of timer to at least clarify how much time is being spent on what.
2. Make sure they have any materials necessary to complete all assignments
Whether its pencil and paper, a stable WiFi connection, log-in information etc., make sure they have all that is needed for them to complete their work.
3. Provide an environment conducive to learning
This isn’t always easy. If they’re too isolated, it’s difficult to check in with them. If they’re at the kitchen table, depending on the child or their environment, they may be too distracted. This is even more challenging when everyone is home and the house is full.
Background noise can help, as can music they like.
4. Create a daily plan
This isn’t just a matter of scheduling. A daily plan looks at the schedule and then identifies to-do items for that day and combines the two for a specific plan for that specific day.
5. Don’t teach–help them understand
Helping students understand is one of the more obvious remote learning tips for parents. How this happens is complicated and varies greatly from student to student and grade level to grade level and content area to content area.
Imagine the parent of a second-grade student helping them complete an essay on their favorite cookie versus the parent of a high school senior helping them with a Calculus problem. The former is a matter of sitting with your child, while the latter is going to likely require that you learn alongside your child–or even learn it first yourself and then review it with them after.
The bottom line is that helping your child understand the content is definitely crucial to distance learning.
6. Make sure all work is completed
Any work that remains incomplete is incomplete for a good reason and has a time-bound (when can it be expected to be completed), actionable next-step (e.g., email the teacher asking for clarification on step 3 of the activity so that you can turn it in tomorrow by noon).
7. Help them check messages and communicate with learning assistants
Check for messages daily from learning assistants and other students, making sure to reply to any messages that require one.
8. Keep in mind that it’s about the child, not the work
This can be difficult for some parents to keep in mind when there is so much pressure (on everyone) to complete the work. And further, this is obviously a parenting philosophy–for some families, it very well may be a matter of discipline to do what you’re told and ‘do well in school.’ If that’s true, this tip may not be useful.
But if you believe that assignments should serve the child rather than the child serve the assignments–or that this is at least partly true–then don’t over-emphasize ‘getting everything done’ over the well-being (not to mention creative genius and curiosity and intrinsic motivation) of your child.
9. Learn to identify the barriers
This is something parents will have to learn early on in their distance learning journey–how to pinpoint exactly what’s happening or going wrong (not unlike an automotive mechanic or NASA engineers or computer coder). Diagnostic teaching is one approach that can help here but the big idea is to identify precisely why your child might be struggling: Is it focus? Motivation? Too much or too little structure? Do they need a hug or finger-wagging or for you to sit with them?
And if it’s a knowledge deficit, exactly what do they not understand? When students say, ‘I don’t get it,’ the first step is to identify exactly what ‘it’ is–and this isn’t always easy. Most students don’t know what they don’t know.
10. Personalize the learning
You can almost always personalize your child’s learning space (sound, light, room, equipment, etc.) and you can likely adjust their schedule. You may even have some control over the curriculum (what they are learning). Use your child’s strengths and gifts and build backward from them as much as possible.
11. Encourage self-direction
The more children own their learning–and ideally have voice and choice in their work–the easier and more fulfilling everything will be for everyone.
12. Help them find their own motivation
Motivating a child is one area where parents are (ideally) better than any teacher could be. The idea here is to help them ‘want to’ learn without punishing them psychologically or making all motivation external and independent from the actual value of the knowledge being gleaned.
We at the African Heritage Foundation hope that the information shared in this article will be of use to parents as they journey down the path of distance online learning with their children.
The African Heritage Foundation’s Home Directed Learning Service offers parents access to its online tutorials, 4 hrs of traditional tutoring per week, unlimited weekly online consults and parent support in areas that present challenges for them.
Although the AHF’s Home Directed Learning Service is focused on children aged 7-12 years old, it accepts older children based on their learning needs. Subjects taught are Math, English, and Social Studies. Parents can also have their children learn African History as an optional course.
Contact the African Heritage Foundation for more information about its Home Directed Learning Service by calling or whatsapp messaging 260-4795 , or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
African Heritage Foundation