Updated: Sep 17, 2020
The dawn of a new day!
Who would have thought, as a country, that we would be discussing virtual learning on a global scale today? Surely not me! The year 2020 has proven to be challenging, but one that we will get through together. With that said, the transition to virtual learning has been a difficult time for many of us and one that none of us saw coming.
So, what is the right way for virtual learning? Well, there is no right or a perfect way for virtual learning. And in this case, one size does not fit all because each child and household are different. But there is one thing we can do as a family to make things a bit easier for our children and us as parents. That one thing is communication. It matters.
We have three children, Nathan and Kyle both are advanced students in eighth and seventh grades respectively, and KayLynne, who is in first grade. Three children at different age levels, with different personalities, values, likes and dislikes, and at different learning levels, etc., thus, require a different approach.
The day before the beginning of the school year of virtual learning, we met with the children at bedtime to talk. We needed to know how they felt about it and discuss it as a family.
Key Things We Talked About:
Teamwork: As a family, we are entering the unknown world of virtual learning, but we would be taking the journey as a TEAM.
Thought Process: Each of us shared our thoughts on how we felt about what is happening in the world and then we addressed each one.
Grades: We discussed the new classes they are going in, their last class-report grades, and how we would TRY our best to maintain those grades or better. The keyword here is to TRY.
Kindness: An understanding that it is a new experience for the teachers too, some of whom have children of their own who they must assist with virtual learning too at home. So, we reminded them that kindness matters in words, deeds, and to respect their time.
Probational Period: We set the first two weeks as a probational period as we try to understand how the system works and what we would need to do at home to make it work for everyone involved.
Working Remotely: We reminded them that mom and dad will be working from home remotely while they are in class. So, everyone will have to play their part, so we succeed as a family.
Only our Best: Most importantly, we talked about doing our best with each new day. We asked them to help us (mom and dad) by paying full attention in class to succeed. Also, to ensure they complete all assignments given to them, and when help is needed, to be sure they come to us.
Help: It is very important that we keep the communication line open and ask for help when needed. And if the teacher said something in class, be sure to remind mom and dad because we too can forget things.
Bullying: We talked about the use of a camera during class which gives access to the inside of each students’ house. If they feel like someone is bullying them or another student, report it immediately to their teacher, mom, and dad.
...But Still, Why???
It is important to us that the kids do not feel pressured and know that we will approach this together. And that was the main point of meeting with them before the school year began.
I guess we did something right because things went well in the first two weeks. So, we made two changes to our household to work along with the current school system:
Weekly meetings: We meet as a family every Sunday evening to discuss the coming week and share our thoughts on how things are going with home, classwork, teachers, likes, dislikes, fears, etc.
Daily reading: Reading is very important, so we set aside a time to read. Sometimes they read only a page a day, which is okay because as long as they are reading if only for five minutes, we are happy. Before, we would have the kids read at 5:00 PM together in one room. We have since changed their reading time to 9:00 PM. At 8:30 PM, we have the kids turn off all screens and get ready for reading. The kids picked their book of choice and settled down in a room for reading. Sometimes, they would go to their individual spaces to read. Once they are through reading and calm their minds and thoughts, then off to bed, they all go.
Creating That Special Space For The Child To Learn And Succeed.
Before school started, we were trying to find the perfect desk for my daughter. Well, in the end, we settled for our living room center table. Ha! You see, it occurred to us late that we do not have to spend unnecessarily to create a 'special space' for our daughter.
We do not need to go crazy on trying to put together that perfect learning space for the child to succeed. The most important thing is that the area is quiet, and we can angle the camera to not see others walking back and forth. You can add a personal touch for each child if needed (pillow, inspirational quote on the wall, etc).
Desk: Do not have a desk? Other options are our bar tops, dining/patio tables, center tables, dressers/vanities, etc. If we must spend money, may I suggest investing in a headphone, preferably the gaming headphone with a mic? Yes, the headphone helps to drown out the noise and helps the child focus better.
Camera: A quick reminder that we have invited the teachers and other kids into our house, so be conscious of this. Be careful of what we are wearing or saying because a camera and mic are in play.
Mic: A quick reminder to login to Microsoft Teams or Zoom with our audio muted at all times. We can let our children know to only turn the mic on when asked a question then to turn it off immediately after answering. It is not cute hearing parents arguing in the background or screaming at a child.
The meeting room features: It helps if we parents have a good understanding of how the different features of our child's class meeting room work. And how to transfer from the meeting room to another room or Canvas easily. This way, if our child has an issue, we can assist the child; thus, limit frustration on the child's part.
Distress: If we hear or see our child getting frustrated or crying due to feeling overwhelmed, excuse our child from the class, hug them as they cry it out, and see how we can help them.
Virtual Learning Group: Join a learning group. It helps to talk to other moms and dads who we share this common factor with. There we can share information, ask questions, and gain knowledge to best help our children. The "Virtual Learning Chronicles" is a fun, informative, and active Facebook group where you can start. Here is the link to the group: Virtual Learning Chronicles
Stay Informed: It helps when we stay in contact with our child's teacher and ask questions when we are unsure. Also, we have to read the emails that are sent over to us to keep us informed.
Here's to wishing you and your family a successful school year filled with much laughter. And don't forget, keep our children reading -- if only a paragraph or page a day to keep illiteracy away.
“The more that they read, the more things they will know. The more that they learn, the more places they'll go.” Dr. Seuss
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For our next nugget, we will focus on how to enjoy a book with our little ones.
We will talk about simple questions we can ask our child about the story after reading to build understanding and create a short discussion:
Setting: Where and when did the story take place?
Character: Who was the main character/s?
Plot: What happened in the story. What was it about?
Moral/Message: What was the message of the story?
Let us keep our children reading. Visit our store today. We appreciate your support.
From my heart to yours,
Karlene J. Froling, Author & Owner
A Tree, A Good Book, And You.