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  • Writer's pictureBernardo Garcia

Back to online school… hopefully not for too long.

As new restrictions are in place in Alberta we start to reintroduce some changes in our routines. Now we know that our kids are going back to online learning (hopefully for a short time) and the memories of online school during lockdown are… well… not so pleasant for many families.

I spent some time last night looking through different sources where you can find tips on how to support your children when they shift to online learning.

I found that, more or less, they all listed the same basic strategies: build a schedule, set up a proper workspace for the kids, take advantage of the online tools, reduce distractions, etc.

But from all the different lists I read there are two that I really liked for their down to earth approach.

The first set of tips come from Marco Learning. In one of their videos they talk about the three most common mistakes parents make when the try to support virtual learning and how to avoid them.

Let your children make mistakes.

The first few days "will be awkward: technology won't work, they will download the wrong version of something, they will be late with an assignment. They don't need to get everything right on the first or second day".

Make sure your children have active social lives online.

Many families tend to "prioritize school work and productivity over social needs" but it is important to "stay plugged to the social universe."

Don’t micromanage your children’s school work.

"If you're going to sit in every one of their online classes, think about the effect it's going to have in their ability to work independently with their classmates and teachers. The fact that they re learning at home doesn't mean they have to be directly under your control all the time. "

Here’s the link to the video:

I also loved the tips from Sarah Brown Wessling. She’s an American teacher who won the 2010 National Teacher of the Year award, a speaker and the host of a PBS show for The Teaching Channel. Her strategies include:

Create routines, not schedules.

"When the pandemic first shut down schools, many parents tried to turn their homes into schools, complete with daily schedules of activities but a lot of the schedules didn’t make it for very long. Instead of trying to create rigid schedules try creating routines for learning. What’s the difference? It’s about finding something that can signal to your kids it’s time to learn."

Take brain breaks.

"It’s helpful for us as parents to remember that seat time doesn’t equal learning time. Kids generally work best in 30-minute increments and younger children probably need to shift activities every 15 to 20 minutes to really stay engaged".

Break down tasks into smaller pieces.

"If kids have multiple assignments to do each day it can be stressful to look at them all together. Instead, it can help to teach kids to break them into smaller tasks so they’re not as daunting. These smaller pieces become a little bit more manageable."

So, let’s all take a deep breath and try to set our expectations to a reasonable level so we can all (parents and kids) make this experience as positive as it can be.


Marco Learning:

Sarah Brow Wessling:

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