This is not a normal back-to-school season and so many families are doing distance learning at home. You can read a few other blogs I wrote about this HERE and HERE. I don’t know anyone who is going to be doing education exactly like they did last September.
For some of us, we’re teaching 100% online. And for others of us, we’re in a weird hybrid of online and in-class instruction. Since we’re in such an uncertain time, I thought I’d write a blog about some ideas for supporting families who are facilitating online learning. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I wanted to get some thought out that might be helpful.
Grace, Grace and More Grace:
First, we need to remember that these parents, for the most part, aren’t teachers. They might not understand the new methods of teaching math. They might not know what a past or present participle is. So it’s important to remember grace. If a parent doesn’t teach a concept exactly like you would, that’s OK. If a parent teaches the child to “carry the tens” in math, that’s OK. In this season, we all need to show each other grace.
Provide Cheat Sheets for Parents
And to that end, it might be helpful to email parents, Cheat Sheets or Answer Keys. You’ll just have to trust that they aren’t giving these to students. But these Answer Keys can be an invaluable resource to parents who simply don’t have the time to solve all the division questions themselves before marking their child’s work.
Turn “normal” Activities into Educational
There are so many great education opportunities around us that can be used for distance learning at home. Here are some ideas:
- Play board games or card games that focus on math, like Cribbage or Sorry!
- Play board games or card games that focus on language, like Scrabble or Balderdash
- Make patterns with stuffed animals or LEGO pieces
- Bake in the kitchen. Baking is all about measurement! Or use a digital activity like THESE that let you make food, in a virtual setting!
- Create movies with your child through programs like iMove or Stop Motion
- Read Stories and practice using different voices for each character.
Too Many Distance Learning Resources
For many families, they are trying to navigate the waters of working, being in quarantine and facilitating Home Learning. This is OVERWHELMING to say the least. I know that we have the best resources and if the kids could just complete one more phonics booklet….but let’s be real. When we send parents emails with lists of activities to complete or resources to look into, the parents are going to start ignoring our emails.
Try to select the most important resources to share. And have the other resources ready in case some parents ask for more, because at least one or two parents will ask for more resources.
Send Home Visuals
This season is especially difficult for our SPED students and the parents of these children. One thing that can be helpful is having their visual schedule and cue cards at home. You might even want to make up some extra cards with household activities, such as “Play in the Backyard”, “Do Chores” or “Bake with Mom”. These visual schedule cards can be quite helpful for our students who long to cling to routine.
Create a “Week at a Glance” for the parents. (I’m emailing you a picture of a week at a glance that I did in June in case you want to add a picture to your blog)
This ‘Week at a Glance’ will act like a to-do list for the parents. It also helps to keep the students on track with things that have to get done. Check out this example.
Set up “Office Hours”
Office Hours would be the time in your day or week when students or parents can phone you with questions. Maybe you want to give out your personal phone number or maybe you just want to sit in a Zoom Meeting and people can join if they have questions. You have to decide what works best for you and by no means do you have to give out your personal phone number. Having Office Hours helps to keep boundaries for your sanity, but it also offers a lifeline for parents or students who might need your help.
Tutoring with Distance Learning at Home
Lastly, if a student is struggling, offer to do a one-on-one virtual lesson with them. This will give the parents a well-deserved break and it will also give the child a different instructor for a while. Sometimes just having a different person explain a topic, is just what a child needs. Don’t be afraid to reach out and offer some virtual one-on-one instruction.
Do you have any helpful tips for supporting families during this time of Home Learning? Are you a parent and you have some suggestions of things that teachers could do better? Leave a comment below and let me know!