A lot of families are struggling these days with financial matters and unemployment issues and education is often can end up being a low priority. That is understandable when you are worrying about finding money for rent, gas and food. After all, you and your family must meet your basic life needs so you can properly function every day.
Teachers and school districts are also having a difficult and stressful time. They are having to make big sudden adjustments with little to prepare and with fewer support staff. Educators want to teach and be around students and hear their excitement when they make academic progress or master new skills.
I have worked in various roles at a number of school districts in Northern California so I understand some of the challenges that school district staff are facing these days. I know that educators and administrative staff are being impacted in many different ways, and they are trying hard to support their students in these different circumstances.
Here are my suggestions for how parents can help at home to support educators and to enable children achieve quality learning while at home:
- Be polite to school district staff. Above all else, and whatever you and your family are going through these days, please remember to always be polite and courteous to teachers, educations, administrative staff, and principals. They are people too and they have their own share of stress and worry during this difficult time in the world.
- Smile and be friendly. A smile goes a long way, especially when it is sincere. Often you don’t have to say anything at all and just let your smile do all of the work.
- Be ready at home. Being prompt and punctual is always a good thing, especially when teachers are on an online meeting software program and they need to make sure everyone is accounted for and ready to learn.
- Keep the internet on. It is extremely important to have a working wi-fi or internet connection at home as it is what makes distance learning and online education possible.
- Reduce distractions. There is a lot of activity at home when some adults cannot go to work or leave the house, so do your part to keep background chatter and activity to a minimum while children are doing online schooling.
- Offer solutions. If you have suggestions for the teacher or administrator, try and present them as solutions instead of as complaints or problems. That is a very big difference and helps a lot.
- Follow up on class assignments. Make sure your children are doing their work and ask them which assignments or projects they are working on each day and week.
- Pick up packets. Most school distracts have specific days and times when parents need to pick up printed materials. Make sure you are there at the appropriate time and the right place.
- Keep questions to a minimum. It’s easy to come up with a dozen questions but try not to bombard your teacher with so many. Make an effort to reduce the quantity down to just a few important ones.
- Set aside fun reading time. Children need their own reading time apart from school, where they can choose what they read and have their own separate time to do so.
- Use headphones. If you have multiple children doing distance learning, make sure they are using headphones if they are in the same room. It makes a big difference for them if they do.
- Have school supplies ready. Yes, it helps so much to have everything nearby so time is not wasted trying to find school supplies during online instructional time.
- Don’t rush. Try and stay calm and relaxed, even if things get hectic around the house.
- Get exercise. It is important for children and adults to get exercise out if the house on the regular basis. Make sure that walking is a regular part of your day.
- Eat healthy and drink water. Learning is maximized when children are fed and drink water regularly. Aim for high quality foods.
- Dress properly. Remember to dress properly while doing online learning, and this goes for everyone in the household.
- Keep devices charged. Make sure the computers and tablets are charged at night and throughout the day too.
- Maintain proper volume levels. Remind students and adults to keep their personal volume down and use inside voices.
- Continue your social distancing. If you happen to go outside or to grocery shopping, take heed about your physical distancing requirements for your area.
- Plan for the future. Remember that this will end at some point so remind yourself and your children about that.
- Send encouraging messages. Make sure you stay positive in your communications with school district staff and keep on with the encouragement.
- Offer support to the school. Try to volunteer at the school if possible, or offer to pay for supplies or do online orders if needed.
- Don’t complain. Try not to complain and work at ways to rephrase your concerns.
- Double check before asking. Often you may already have the answers on your child’s paperwork so check there a few times before asking.
- Celebrate success. Share your child’s academic accomplishments at home and be proud of them.
- Find ways to scaffold. Work to augment your child’s subject matter with other materials around the house or from your family’s experiences.
- Do oral history projects. Relatives are a great resource and they will not mind being interviewed.
- Relay technical tips. If you have internet technology experience, make sure to inform the teacher.
- Inform teachers of side projects. Let the educators know if you find other online resources that your children use in their free time.
- Enter education contests. Try to find online spelling bees or things like that.
- Stay competitive. Work with your children on bringing our their best.
- Focus on collaboration. Find ways your child can collaborate with their peers on projects.
- Have a positive mindset. Wake up each day with a can-do attitude and stay that way as long as possible.
As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. That means that parents have their responsibilities and the local school districts have theirs as well.
Do your best to help teachers, educators and school districts be as successful as possible and maximize the amount of learning and education that occurs during distance education and online schooling. When this worldwide crisis is over, we will be proud of how supportive and productive we were together in the pursuit of education and learning.