Back-to-school traditions didn’t feel very traditional this year, and parents are trying to figure out how to roll with all of the unpredictability. One issue that many parents are trying to navigate is their involvement in remote learning.
Over the summer, there was a lot of talk about the “summer slide” – the idea that academic skills diminish somewhat during school breaks. While this can be a real concern, parents don’t need to fret about lost time or pass that stress on to their children. Lots of learning takes place over breaks: reading for pleasure, experiencing a first job, caring for siblings, learning to swim or learning an instrument.
Parents shouldn’t worry about what kind of educational role they need to fulfill for their child. You don’t always need to be your child’s cheerleader, keeping them motivated and on-task. Keep in mind the most productive learning comes when children take ownership of their education.
Parents must permit themselves to move gently during these tough times. Remember, all students are experiencing these school changes simultaneously, so concerns about falling behind may be less critical than one might think. The bottom line is that teachers, whether online or in-person, are well prepared to meet your child exactly where they are.
Create a new family schedule that includes classes, homework, recreation and sleep to help all ages be successful. Children may benefit from the same predictable bedtime cues used when they were toddlers. Establish set meal times, turn off media and have a regular bath and reading time for younger children. Teens may need persuasion to turn off phones at night.
Remote learning can’t magically mimic in-person schooling. Parents may need to communicate with teachers more than usual. If screen time becomes tedious, encourage your child to take physical and mental breaks. Teachers want to nurture independent thinking and curiosity, not stamina for sitting.
Speak up if things become cumbersome or modifications need to be made for different learning preferences. Remote teachers may not immediately see these cues. The same holds true for homework. Teachers may not realize the cumulative amount of homework given from multiple teachers and will appreciate your communication.
Also, stay up-to-date with the technology needed for remote learning. Speak to your school if you need resources, Wi-Fi access, IT assistance or have multiple children needing access at the same time. You may need to help young students with logins and passwords before class starts each day.
Students and parents have made many adjustments these past six months, and the future still remains unknown. But what we can all do in the meantime is be kind to teachers, other school personnel and yourself as we all do our best to educate the next generation.
— Nola Enge, Ph.D., is director of The Hills School at Shepherd of the Hills. For more: thehillsschool.org or call 602-952-2616.