Clothing Required - And Other Remote Learning Tips For Parents
Ok, I admit my experience with remote learning is limited to three days with my 9-year-old grandson. So I don't claim to be an expert.
I do claim to have been highly frustrated with the process.
It is my humble opinion that remote learning does a great disservice for younger (elementary age) children. They are not mature enough to understand or deal with this situation and so many are falling through the cracks.
Many school systems were ill-prepared, if at all, and there is way too much responsibility put on the parent and the child to perform the duties of the education system.
Now that I have said my peace, let me step down from my soapbox and offer some practical advice for those parents (and grandparents) who still wade in these waters every day to help their children learn.
1. Wear Clothes
Now I did not personally have this problem, but I have heard the stories. Zoom classrooms use cameras. Cameras see things. And in the case of parents who forget this tiny detail, Johnny, all these classmates, and the teacher are seeing quite a bit more than they expected.
This holds true for those who have been driven to day-drinking. I strongly recommend refraining from that activity. The teacher does not need your visual aid assistance with upending a bottle of Chardonnay during science class.
Yes, you may be in your home. And yes, you technically have the right to walk around how you please and do what you please. However, the world is watching. Literally. Be mindful of where you are in regards to the Chromebook camera and dress and behave accordingly.
TIP: Have a designated area for 'school'. Ideally, it should not be a bedroom if at all possible. The kitchen or dining room table is a good option. If you have a home office or study, that is also great. And if you have more than one child, try to give each one their own area so they can concentrate.
I saw kids on their beds or on the living couch. This is not conducive of paying attention or learning. They were moving around, laying down, playing with pillows. Yes, you want your child comfortable, but they should have some semblance of a desk and be able to sit upright in a chair. If kids could learn on couches their school rooms would look like a Hilton Inn lounge.
2. Stay Off Your Phone
In addition to cameras, those Chromebooks have microphones. So the argument with your spouse is now being broadcast to the entire 6th grade. Or that budgetary meeting with your boss is being heard. And don't think the juicy piece of gossip about Amanda's mom and the Fed Ex driver will stay a secret very long.
You would not go into your child's classroom and start talking on the phone. So don't do it when they are doing remote learning. Even if no one else can hear you, your child probably can. And it is distracting. It is difficult enough to learn common core math on a good day. Having to filter out your latest personal tragedy does not help. And trust me, you don't want the teacher to tell you to SHHH!
TIP: Teach your kids to mute. Unless they have a specific question to ask and the opportunity to ask it, the Chromebook should be on mute.
Part of the chaos with my grandson's remote zoom class was that almost all the kids had their microphones on. That meant everyone else, including the teacher, could hear whatever was going on. From some kids playing with their dogs to grandma's singing, to someone watching The Today Show.
You know the commercials that show too many conversations going on in someone's head and that person going insane. Yes, it's just like that.
This also made it very hard for the teacher to do her job. She was unable to hear a specific question or concern that a particular child was having. They had to repeat the issue. She had to repeat the solution. Not only was it irritating to listen to, but it also wasted ALOT of time.
3. Don't Take Your Frustrations Out On The Teacher
I can pretty much assure you, they don't like this any more than you do. They did not sign up to be a TV moderator, family therapist, or computer technician. Yes, they are prepared to stand before you children and teach, but remote learning puts such an added strain on their full plates.
As parents (and grandparents), we have many concerns. There are technical glitches, missed meetings, lost assignments, unclear directives, and the list goes on. As humans, it is tempting to take those frustrations out on the messenger. That's unfair and unproductive.
Yes, you are entitled to know what is going on with your child's education. And you and your child should have clear instructions on when to attend zoom meetings, where to find assignments, and how and when to turn them in. But you may want to give the teacher's a break from time to time.
TIP: Set up a line of communication with the teacher. The vast majority of teachers got into this profession to actually teach. So their goal is to be as effective as possible. They are frustrated, confused, and trying to learn new tricks as well. They WANT your child to succeed and they understand you need to be involved.
For me, I asked for the teacher's phone number so we could communicate by text. This worked out very well. When I didn't understand something, I could simply ask. She didn't always have time to respond immediately, but she always responded. When I explained a few issues we were having, she was patient and worked with me to solve the problem.
If you approach your child's teacher with respect and civility, it will go a long way. They are not the problem. I can't promise all of them will give you their cell phone number, but simply ask if there is a way to communicate questions and concerns. If they see you are trying to be on the same team, they will welcome the input.
4. Understand Your Child Is Not An IT Specialist (And Probably Neither Is The Teacher)
One of the greatest challenges for younger children is just learning to operate the Chromebook itself. Yes, kids are way smarter with phones and apps than some of us older folks, but if they have never used a Chromebook, it takes a minute.
They must also learn the online software and programs for the lessons and assignments. I have a friend whose son did all his work, but didn't understand how to transfer and send it back correctly. The teacher got a blank work sheet back. He was allowed to do it again, but it was still frustrating.
And depending on the Wi-Fi connection, that brings a brand new set of problems. There will be lost connections and possible delays in transmitting and receiving information.
This creates a huge added stressor to the child. They are just trying to get through the third, fourth, or fifth (etc) grade. They are not applying to work at Microsoft. I heard one child openly crying because they could not get the computer to work right.
I understand this will not be an issue for all kids, especially older ones, but many elementary school aged children will struggle with just learning the equipment.
TIP: Take a few minutes yourself to get familiar with your child's device. If you already know, that's great! Now spend a few more minutes learning the software and all aspects of what is expected of your child. Once YOU have it down, teach it to your child. Do this when 'school' is not in session.
Be patient and remember they are not IT professionals at this age. If you take the time to show them how to maneuver the Chromebook and the software, they will be able to settle down and concentrate on learning the actual lesson for the day.
My Hopefuls, I am certainly glad this is not something I have to deal with every day. And for those of you who do, I empathize with you.
I hate that our children are being denied their standard in-classroom education and social interaction with their peers. Unfortunately, there is little I can do.
But I felt it important and necessary to pass along the wee bit of knowledge and experience I obtained in my three days of remote learning. And if you remember nothing about this blog, remember to
KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON!
And as always...
Hope With Abandon