How to better prepare for the online school year

When learning suddenly went online in March, many parents scrambled to make sense of the virtual classroom. Now, as we head into a mostly virtual school year once more, we have the power to be more prepared than the last go around. Here are two great strategies to be more prepared for online learning this fall. 

First and foremost, find out how your child learns. Parents are used to homework help and parent-teacher conferences, but having a science class in the middle of the living room is new for most parents. Have a conversation with your child about the environment and learning strategies that help them learn best. Knowing what activities and subjects are most engaging for your child and which ones they need a bit more help in will allow you to offer the most effective support. 

Start by asking them which projects and classes at school they enjoy most and pay attention to times during the day when they are most likely to lose focus. If your child hates tests, maybe an online portfolio is a better way for them to demonstrate learning and if they start to lose steam around 3 pm, maybe that’s the best point for an at-home recess. 

Secondly, ask for more feedback from teachers. Communication is key when it comes to adapting to the online classroom. A report from Learning Heroes surveyed over 3,000 parents of public school students across the country between April 14 and May 6 of this year and found that only 33 percent of students had regular access to teachers. Start by asking for a video meeting with teachers to ensure everyone is on the same page about distanced learning. Ask for feedback about how students are doing and emphasize the need for student accountability. This will help make sure no students slip through the cracks. 

Teachers are not always enthusiastic about communicating with parents. Another study from 2018 found that 71 percent of teachers report they are afraid to speak with parents about their children’s learning for fear they will be blamed for any bad news. Encourage your child’s teacher to be transparent with the learning progression, whether good or bad. 

Transitioning to a completely new learning platform and style is no easy task, but hitting the ground running with strategies and information on how to most effectively help your child is key to a smoother start to the school year.

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