Online Distance Learning Hacks for Parents

In this article Francis Jim Tuscano provides a set of tips for parents to help with online distance learning

Online Distance Learning Hacks for Parents

Online distance learning was a vague concept before the pandemic. When schools announced their online distance learning programs, parents were (and are still) sceptical whether this was even possible, nervermind effective. There were tonnes of questions from parents as they continued to make sense of the online distance learning programs offered by schools and how to weigh up the various alternatives.

Fast forward to today, it has been quite a while since schools launched their online learning offerings. Parents have enrolled their children and witnessed how different it is from face to face learning. A number of parents have expressed concerns regarding the challenges and issues that they have encountered with online distance learning, especially with the current situation in the Philippines.  On the other hand, a number of parents have been also hopeful as they continue to make certain changes to their daily schedules to accommodate the demands of online schooling.

To help parents navigate better and ace online distance learning, here are some tips that can guide parents in this new, exciting, but fairly challenging learning environment.

  1. Create and maintain a safe physical and emotional environment that is conducive for learning at home. The home is the center of learning as of this moment. So, students need to feel that they can perform their learning activities in their sacred learning spaces. This space should allow them to move and should be free from distractions, such as toys, gadgets for playing, and other non-learning materials. There should be enough lighting to help stimulate the brain and help their eyes to not feel strained. Comfortable chairs and clutter-free tables are an important part of this learning environment.
  2. Help your child in creating and sticking to a realistic and manageable daily schedule or routine at home. Integrate the school’s online learning schedule and balance it with playtime and short stretch breaks. Involving the child in creating this daily schedule can lead to a sense of ownership and responsibility. 
  3. Take the role of an encourager. Show genuine interest in helping your child learn. The operative word is help not hover. Let your child independently complete the learning activities which have been given out to them. Motivate your child by starting with his or her strengths. Maintain a positive but realistic attitude so that even if your child encounters hurdles or makes mistakes along the way, your child knows how to face them and still persevere.    
  4. Increase your child’s self-efficacy or their sense of having control or agency. Children must be able to make decisions on how and what they learn. For example, in choosing which subject they should study first when doing homework or how they want to complete their lessons. Give children the space and opportunity to make decisions so that they get to learn how to be responsible for their choices.
  5. Set up rules that are both fair and realistic, especially with the use of gadgets such as an iPad or laptop. These tech devices are essential for online learning but children need to understand how often, when, and where they can use them. To regulate gadget use and build better bonds or relationships at home, set-up device-free zones for the whole family, such as the dining table or their bedroom.

6.  Regulate apps that are installed on your children’s devices. If they are not for learning, then these apps, such as mobile games or social media should not be there. Even if you think that your child can manage how he or she uses his learning device, still make sure that the ground rules are clear for accountability and transparency.

7.  Stay positive and remain calm when technical failure happens. Sometimes, there are issues that are out of our control, such as a bad internet connection due to poor weather or a sudden internet outage. If this happens, reach out to your child’s teachers and inform them of your current situation and make inquire how your child can catch up with any missed lessons or sessions.

8.  Build a support system with and among fellow parents or home supervisors/caregivers. Ask other parents about how they guide and help their children in online schooling. Of course, share with them your best practices at home. 

9.  Build a better connection with the school and the teachers of your child. Get connected, request for a conference and ask questions or help, if needed.

10.  If there are certain hiccups, misunderstandings, or shortcomings in all of these expectations for your child, always have a calm dialogue with your child. Build on trust and openness. Always end with a positive note to help each other learn from the experience. 

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