How You – And Schools – Can Help Your Kids With Remote Learning
Chris Wojcik Student, Loyola University Chicago
While laws vary between states and school districts about how much schoolwork students must do and how teachers should be interacting with their students – one thing is universally true: Parents have suddenly become their children’s primary teachers.
And the vast majority of parents have no training whatsoever in education.
No one knows how long parents will have to add teaching to their to-do lists.
In all but ten states, students will definitely not see their teachers face-to-face in the same room for the rest of the academic year.
Many children’s least favorite part of school is homework.
For most kids right now, school is all homework – no fun, friends, or Fridays.
Here are a few ways that parents can help their child learn remotely during this pandemic, and how schools are required to help your kids keep learning.
Remember That What Worked For You as a Kid May Not Work for Your Kid Right Now
Just because you liked some subjects as a child, or liked doing homework in a certain setting, doesn’t mean that those things will automatically work for your child as well. Be willing to offer suggestions on study strategies, time management skills, and organization, but keep in mind that they might have a different idea for how to learn best for them.
A few examples of study strategies include:
- Repetition (such as going through flash cards over and over)
- Teaching students why what they’re learning is important (it’s important we study science because teaches us how the world works)
- Finding ways to make lessons interactive (learning fractions by cutting an apple, or learning vowels through songs)
Hold Your Child Accountable for Their Schoolwork
Monitor what your child does for school all day, and offer rewards and punishments based on what you see.
If your child is younger, you can read with them. This is an excellent way to help your child academically while also being able to spend time with them.
If your child is older, daily check-ins may be enough to help them get through these next few weeks before summer vacation. Demand to see what your child has produced every few hours, or even every twenty minutes if your child gets distracted easily.
Reach Out to Your Child’s Teacher
Regardless of where you live, teachers are required by law to communicate with parents about how remote learning works.
Each district and school defines remote learning differently. Some teachers spend a certain number of hours per day on Zoom with students. Other teachers send out videos and lesson plans. Some teachers simply email reading and assignments.
But they must – legally – be doing something.
They should also be more than willing to email, call or videoconference with you to give advice.
Make sure your child’s school has your correct phone number and email. One study found that schools had valid contact information for just around 50% of parents.
If your child needs more help from a teacher, or you need help figuring out how to teach, call or email your child’s teacher. If you don’t receive a response, contact the principal.
Lead by Example
Children often replicate behaviors they see in those older than them, such as parents and teachers. This is especially true in young children.
If you are supposed to be working remotely each day, but spend a lot of time watching Netflix instead, your child may think, “Well if my parents don’t have to work very hard right now, neither do I .”
Young children might even think it’s fun to act like their parents and do their work next to you as you plug away at a computer.
Lower your expectations
We are living in unprecedented times, and for children, this can and will be especially confusing. It’s OK to tell your kid that online learning isn’t perfect, so you don’t expect them to achieve perfect scores.
Schools Must Try to Provide Your Children With Food
People often forget another problem related to school closures. For many children in America, schools are their only resource for breakfast and lunch.
The White House has approved waivers and given all 50 states the flexibility to work with local partners in order to get meals to these children that are in need of this service.
Some districts are still making several thousand meals a day for children, and offering curb-side pickup or delivery.
The way food is distributed in your town is being handled at the district level.
Visit your school’s website or call the district to find out how to get kids their meals.
Are schools required to provide you with a computer or tablet if you don’t have one for your child?
Most school districts are giving students tablets, computers, and internet access if they need them. Be sure to check with your school’s officials if you are unsure.
New York has created an application-based service that is lending 300,000 internet-enabled iPads to students. In Chicago, parents and students are supposed to reach out to their school to participate in the device distribution program.
California is also doing it’s best to provide wifi and technology to students despite having the largest student population in the country. Large companies like Google, Twitter, and Comcast are also doing their part in trying to help the transition to distance learning.
If your child had an “Individual education program” (IEP) in school, are schools required to help you achieve these goals online?
Yes, they are, so long as the school is open to the general student population. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools must ensure that students with IEP’s must have access to the same opportunities as the rest of the students in the school.
It doesn’t matter where you go to school, as long as your school is open each student is required to get the help they need to learn. If they do not provide this, they must provide compensation and future assistance if your child’s education is not up to par with their classmates.This is a federal law and each state must comply. For example, the California Department of Education has stated that IEP’s will not be amended and schools must provide education through alternatives (distance learning).