Parent Tips for Online Learning
“You can help your children by providing them with a structure and routine and being a positive force in their education.” – Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, president of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development.
Although our mode of delivering instruction has changed, GPISD’s commitment to ensuring our students are prepared for the next grade level has not changed through our At-Home Learning Academy. Both teachers and administrators have worked diligently to ensure our students are able to continue their learning this school year. Many parents have asked for tips to help support their students’ at-home learning journey. Below are a few tips collected from the non-profit organization Children and Screens. We hope you find this information helpful in supporting your students at home.
Set Digital Priorities: Designate a set time for students to access online learning lessons and platforms. Consider limiting your student’s ability to access non-school-related digital programs until they achieve their learning goals for this set time period. This will help maintain student-focus and avoid unnecessary distractions.
Make a Space for Learning: Students produce their best work in a space that is comfortable and dedicated to learning. This will more than likely be a different space than where they play games or watch television. Be sure the space has an area where the student can focus, concentrate, and be comfortable.
Monitor the Screen (i.e. laptop, iPad, or cellphone): The simplest way to monitor your student’s interest and engagement is through observation. Check to see if they are taking notes, following along on the screen, and asking questions during or at the end of the lesson. If you find that your student is not engaged, do not hesitate to contact your student’s teacher or the school district to better explore the issue. Sometimes there are easy fixes such as: improving the sound audio, resolving connectivity issues, or clarifying directions.
Digital Recess: Make sure your students take plenty of brain breaks to get physical time away from the computer. Consider setting alarms to encourage clear stop times to get up, walk around, eat a snack, play with a family pet, or talk to friends and/or family members.
Face Time: In-person interaction is ideal for kids, but until it’s safe for them to return to school, encourage your children to video chat or text message rather than simply scrolling through social media. You don’t want your children to feel socially isolated, but at the same time, you want to protect them from becoming wholly reliant upon their devices.
Sit your children down for face-to-face conversations about screen time. To give them ownership, discuss how much time they think is reasonable to spend online and make a “contract” committing to goals for on-screen vs. off-screen hours.
Keep It Old School: Too much time on digital devices has adverse effects on young brains, so it is important in these situations to be extremely careful when it comes to very young children. As much as possible, parents should promote print and book reading. Encourage self-expression by having discussions with your children about what they are doing and encourage creative writing and storytelling.
We’re All in This Together: Please know you are not alone in this new learning territory. Reach out to other parents and see what they have found to be effective or share your best practices. Exchange useful hints and strategies with one another and offer support. It is essential that we all collaborate as one community for the good of our children and families.
Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan: Having a set plan can relieve stress for both students and parents. Check in with your child about their plans and help them create a daily and weekly schedule. Help them prioritize and set clear goals and deadlines. This may be more of a struggle now than previously, so it is important to reinforce expectations and consider possibly offering incentives for positive behaviors.
Repeat, This is Not a Vacation: Even though staying home from school might feel like a holiday, please remind your kids that they’re not on vacation. Learning must continue to ensure students are prepared for next school year.
HAVE FUN!: Plan off-screen activities for the whole family to enjoy. Some possible ideas include: watching at-home movies, family physical activities, family games, and/or any other engaging activities.
We hope these tips from the non-profit organization Children and Screens are helpful. Please know GPISD is here to offer support throughout this journey. We appreciate your support and we appreciate the privilege of educating your children.