Ok, so we’re back to online learning for children and classes from home. But it’s not the end of the world, and children need to learn, and a computer and Zoom classes can be just as enriching as the classroom. It’s up to parents and teachers alike to persevere and make sure our children’s education and mental wellbeing don’t fall by the wayside. Motivation to learn might be low but online learning is just as beneficial, so here are a few tips to keep them learning:
- Does remote learning work?
- How to make the most of your at-home setup
- The importance of taking a break and physical education
- Final lockdown lesson advice
Teaching a child at home or online is not easy, but we hope this advice will offer a little bit of help at home for their online learning…
Does remote learning work?
“…Online learning can be as effective as in-person instruction, if you have a good setup…”Michele Gregoire Gill, PhD, Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Central Florida
How well children and teachers adapt to working from home depends on a lot. Some struggle to stay engaged in the work. Other don't feel included by their teachers or classmates. And some have issues staying connected through the internet. It can be hard, and there are definite digital inequalities, but some teachers have seen an improvement in children's learning. It may be because there are fewer classmates to distract them or they don’t feel as much pressure, but many children are finding remote learning amenable. It’s all about successful learning environments and practices – just as it is in the classroom.
What you can do to improve things:
- Make sure your children know you are available to talk over email or instant messenger
- Encourage the children and their parents to create a structure and routine with their homework
- Generate learning resources which are flexible and can be personalised by the student
- Try and connect the lessons to their interests
- Introduce them to interactive and online learning platforms.
How to make the most of your at-home setup
Teaching from behind a computer screen isn’t likely to be something you learnt during your teacher training. On top of that, you can’t move and gesticulate as you’re used to, and class interaction and involvement will be different too. But you won’t be the only one who’s new to this – your school colleagues are likely in the same boat, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help from others to create a welcoming and friendly online environment for your students and yourself.
The same could be said of your interactions with your students – communication is key. Make sure you have as many lines of communication open as possible, from slack to zoom and email. They need contact to learn and gain feedback on their work just as much as you do to uncover what is working and what isn’t in your virtual classroom.
On a more physical note, if you’re conducting remote classes from home rather than the schoolroom, make sure you have a designated space for all your work. Try not to let it interfere with your home life if you can. Work-life balance, as well as your mental health and wellbeing, is still important.
The importance of taking a break and physical education
While online learning is incredibly beneficial at a time like this, breaks are still essential. Especially for younger children who are developing and growing. It’s recommended that we all take regular breaks from the computer, and learning, so here’s a couple of ideas on how you can accomplish that:
- The 20-20-20 rule
Previously only used for office environments, this is now applicable to everyone who may be working from home in front of a computer; children, teachers and professionals alike. The 20-20-20 rule aims to help prevent eye strain, headaches and more when you’re using your eyes more intensely or unusually – in this case in front of computers.
Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Sounds simple enough – why not get your children to do this, and do it yourself too?
- Break times
Just as if they were in a physical school, children need break times, and so do teachers. So, encourage your class to get out of the house into the garden or to go for a lunchtime walk with their parents to the swings and slides.
Final lockdown lesson advice
There is no doubt about it, lockdown remote learning can be a challenge if you’re not used to it, but it can be successful – just look at all the Open University, the FutureLearn website and all the other schools offering remote courses over the past few years. It may be that the pandemic has brought the future of learning forwards.
Either way, the main things to remember when you’re teaching online are:
- Schedules are important and incredibly useful for the child, the parents and the teachers – so embrace them.
- Work stations and dedicated spaces help create structure and work to maintain your work/life balance
- Some work can be done away from the computer screen to protect eyes and offer independence too
Online learning for children and remote learning is essential to children’s lives, and there are signs that it will become more commonplace in the future. So, do what you can to create those important teacher-student relationships, and don’t forget to encourage and motivate them during your lessons with learning resources and relatable subjects they enjoy, and promote away-from-computer learning like physical education. Remember, they’re still learning, it’s just a little different than normal.