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With schools being closed for the remainder of the school year, your child is most likely completing his or her school year online. This raises several questions:

How long this situation will last?
Will there be ‘regular school in the fall?
Will school be the same in the fall?
How will this affect my education in the long run?

Once school buildings reopen and students return to non-virtual learning, it is fair to wonder if it might be best for your children to continue their education online – in part or in whole. 

Is Virtual Learning Right for Your Child?

At this point due to the realities of life today virtual learning may be your child’s only educational option.  This may be done in a variety of ways which have been addressed in this blog and the mAke the grAde video library such as this video…

For the purpose of this article, let’s focus how your child will be getting educated and how they will be receiving information, and how well they can learn virtually.

For many students, interaction with other students and their teachers is paramount and these are inherently an integral part of the learning process, but that is not the case for everyone. Each student learns in a different way, whether it be visual, auditory, verbal or physical, (or a combination) so some children may prefer a more self-paced and independent home virtual learning option.

Some virtual classes have a teacher presenting the material either live or in an asynchronous manner, but most virtual curricula  require the student to work independently.  So while the instruction itself and the learning pacing may be preferred, it may still be difficult for students to learn and be free from distractions. So there are benefits and challenges.

I have addressed the need for the 5 structures for home / virtual learning in this podcast episode. They are critical for success regardless of the source of the information or the learning platform.

Older children are typically more independent and able to manage their time more efficiently while younger children will need help staying on a consistent schedule and maintaining a structure. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your child has enough time and the proper structure to complete their assignments. and you will need to oversee the time they spend on the computer to make sure that they are staying on task.  You also need to consider that your kids will not have the same social engagements as they would in a physical classroom setting. Still, there is room for a flexible schedule and opportunity for social interaction with others outside of a classroom setting.

The Best Way for Your Child to Succeed in Virtual Learning

Again, the 5 structures are critical to success but, as a parent, to help your child succeed in a virtual classroom, you have to do some preparation and planning short term (daily) and longer term (weekly, monthly etc).  First, create physical structure – an area where they can work undisturbed.  Your children will also need to have the proper equipment, such as a computer, writing paper and pencils just like ‘school’.  Also create the time structure and do not neglect scheduling time in their day for them to go outside and play as well as for crafts or other fun activities.  Make a calendar for your children and create a schedule they can follow. All of these tools can help your child acclimate to a routine much like being in a physical school building.

Special Case = Options for Virtual SAT and ACT Preparation

Prepping for the SAT and ACT has always had a virtual / online component so there is much less adjustment for the students in these situation.  Further, there is a narrow and well defined curriculum used for test prep for both the SAT and ACT prep – which is to say that what the students need to learn does not vary.  Tutoring or online courses are available and specifically designed to prepare your child for these standardized tests have existed for years including a complete program at mAke the grAde which you can research here. 

Conclusion

Virtual home learning, when optional and not mandated, may be an option to explore.  In many cases, students enjoy the more independent nature of the academic pacing and style. There are challenges, such as needing structure and ensuring a complete curriculum, but the benefits may outweigh the downsides.

Schools have been closed all around the country until the end of the school year in June because of COVID-19 and the shut in mandates.  This has created challenges for students, and parents, that were unanticipated and unprecedented.  Parents and students are now feeling the pressure to cope with and to adapt to home based virtual learning.

In my tutoring practice I am getting feedback that many students are struggling to adjust to this instructional style and presentation and it is difficult, in many cases, for parents to become de-facto teachers so they can help their children.

For parents, here are strategies for helping children focused and productive so they will be successful and avoid falling behind with the curriculum.

Keeping Your Child on Schedule With Their Schoolwork

Typically, when some extenuating circumstance has forced local schools to close, most people go into a ‘snow day’ mentality. Where students, parents and teachers treat it as if it were just a regular day off from school. For many, the first week of quarantine was thought of as an extended snow day, a vacation of sorts, as we all became more aware of the severity of the situation, everyone had to accept the new ‘normal’ and focus on doing what we all need to do to maintain personal success. Click here to set up a personalized learning plan for your family.

Set a Daily Schedule 

First, create a schedule. Encourage your children to have an active role in deciding what hours of the day they will be working. This will give them a greater feeling of control and ‘buy in’.  When is ‘school in’ and ‘school out’?  When is ‘recess’? When is lunch time?  More importantly, once you have a schedule worked out, make sure you stick to it so they don’t fall out of habit.

Get Them Organized 

What do your notebooks look like? Can you find all the papers you need when you need them? This is a good time to get organized and to create a system moving forward. Be sure that you have a system of managing the work that you need to do.  I recommend the Maximum Education system which I have taught to thousands of students.

 

 How to Help Them Rebound if They Fall Behind

Be sure to keep up with school work and do not allow your child to fall behind.  When a child has numerous outstanding / late assignments it creates a stressful situation.  It also requires extra time and effort to catch up and get par. This is also way having a daily routine / schedule and following the schedule are so important.

Contact Their Teachers

Communicate with teachers by email or other channel.  Let them know if your child is not doing well, or is struggling to stay pace with the assignments, or if they are challenged to learn by the online instructional style.  You can ask if their teacher(s) can offer an extension on due dates, one-on-one lessons, clarifications on the curriculum, or any additional resources that might be useful.  More often teachers are will help when you reach out and ask because they will try to do what they can to help their students succeed.

Get Them Organized 

What do your notebooks look like? Can you find all the papers you need when you need them? This is a good time to get organized and to create a system moving forward. Be sure that you have a system of managing the work that you need to do.  I recommend the Maximum Education system which I have taught to thousands of students.

Stay Social and Make Time For Leisure

Next, kids work best in social environments. Being with friends helps encourage them to focus, stay on task, and keep up with the curriculum. Therefore, try to encourage them to get in touch with their friends over the internet and, when appropriate, work on assignments together and encourage group study.  Children to do associate their homes with school.  They consider home as the place where they can unwind so having to complete all of their schoolwork at home will likely feel odd to them. At times, let them have enough fun so that they don’t feel imprisoned in their own homes.  You should not put education on the back burner, but when planning the schedule be sure to allow time for snacks, exercise, playtime, electronics and TV (in other words – their usual day at home).

It’s chaotic these days and it may stay this way for some time.  It is a huge adjustment for students. Home based education is something that children and parents was unexpected and sudden and something everyone was not prepared for.  The transition may be difficult but is facilitated by having a consistent plan and working that plan every day.  With the right strategy and a little cooperation between children and their parents everyone can succeed so Click here to set up a personalized learning plan for your family.

Parents – Dr Greene is offering a Personalized Virtual Plan for families.  Click here to learn more.

All over the country, students are continuing to learn and educate themselves, though in very different ways than many of them are used to. With schools closed, virtual learning has become the ‘new normal’ as the method of delivery of academic information and to keep the minds or students active, even during this pandemic. However, with nearly all of their children’s education now online, many families are facing some very unfamiliar issues. Therefore, to help your child adjust to their new schooling method, here are the five major challenges that families are facing with virtual learning, and tips to overcome them.

1. Change in Environment

The first challenge is helping your kid or teen adjust to their new environment. Many students separate their lives into ‘school’ and ‘home,’ and it can be difficult for them to merge the two and put themselves in a ‘school state-of-mind’ with distractions every which way. This problem is a mental obstacle rather than a physical one Therefore, it requires a mental strategy to overcome it. The best way to overcome this is to set up a workspace for your child, where they won’t get distracted and they understand that when they are in this space, there are ‘in school’.  This will help them focus on their work, and make distractions seem further away.

2. Technical Problems

A second problem is the access and performance of the technology that students need to use. Many students may not have high bandwidth and strong internet connection needed to keep up with the curriculum. If your son or daughter’s computer does not have the best functioning technology, you should try and get them whatever they need to keep up with their classmates. However, if this technology is, for any reason, unavailable, then all you can do is encourage your children to reach out to their teachers and see if they can provide them with any additional help or resources.

3. Fostering a Sense of Community

As social beings, humans need to be connected with others. Learning, especially, is an activity best done with others, and students who are used to performing schoolwork surrounded by friends and acquaintances may be feeling isolated in these difficult times. To remedy this, suggest to your child that they get in contact with their friends, and maybe even develop study groups during which they will go over the material they have previously learned to sponsor collaboration and connection.  Use the same online technology that they are using for learning for socializing.  This will help reduce loneliness in students and encourage them to keep up with their classmates.

4. Time Management

Time management is also a major problem that many students are having to deal with, especially older HS aged students who are not used to having so much freedom and personal responsibility with respect to their studies. Without a good time management strategy, they may be getting further and further behind as quarantine continues.

This should be handled in two ways. First, try to treat every day like a regular school day. That means waking them up at the same time you normally would, getting them to work at the same time as always, etc. This will create a routine to help kids and teens stay on track. For the second step, you should take a step back. In other words, don’t micromanage your child. Allow them to figure out their work schedule on their own. This will make your child feel less constricted and help them practice the time management skills that they will need later in their lives. You may be surprised by how well they rise to the challenge.

Set times when school is “in” and times when school is “out”.  Be clear on the expectations.

5. Motivation

Finally, after all is said and done, if your child is simply not motivated to learn, they won’t. In class, even if kids and teens get bored, having their teachers right in front of them and their peers to the left and right helps to energize them enough to complete the assignments and get through the day. Without that social foundation, it’s easy for them to lose the will power they need to focus on their work. When most of the world is out of school, and much of the workforce is stuck at home, sentiments like ‘what’s the point?’ can commonly arise in even the most dedicated students.

Trying to convince your kids and teens that everything is normal probably won’t work, because everything is not normal, and they know that. Instead, you should level with them. Acknowledge that this is a unique situation we’re in and that the transition can be rough, but the best thing we can do for ourselves is to stick to our regular routines as much as possible so we can all come out swinging at the other end of this ordeal.

Parents – Dr Greene is offering a Personalized Virtual Plan for families.  Click here to learn more.

Change is difficult enough as individuals, but when an entire society is forced to adapt itself to new circumstances, things can get really hectic, and our children suffer as much as anyone. Even if children would rather do anything else but sit behind a computer and study for hours on end, virtual learning provides them with the normalcy they need to thrive in these abnormal times.

Do you best to establish routine, based on physical structure, time and expectations.