Dealing with the Pandemic: Adjusting to Distance Learning

Posted on: Tue, 04/21/2020 - 09:00

After several weeks of “distance learning,” it is important for students to stay engaged. While recognizing how stressful things are right now, the effects of losing an entire quarter of learning could have a significant impact going forward.

Distance learning is the only option for school systems around the country facing extended closures due to the COVID-19 crisis. Our school system was well-poised to deliver instruction remotely, but let’s face it—it is not the same for anyone: students, teachers, or parents! That is a hard reality that we must face because we really have no other option right now.

While I recognize it is not the same as being in the classroom with a teacher and fellow students, it is critically important that students do their best to complete the work assigned by their teacher. It is understandable that there may be days when a family is facing a significant challenge and getting to school work is not a priority. However, it is important that students do engage when they can. Attendance is important whether a student is coming to a building or doing a task remotely. We need our students to be there!

Juggling telework obligations, work schedules, children’s schedules, illness, loss of employment, or social isolation—all of these factors contribute to our stress. For many parents, trying to become their child’s teacher is overwhelming. There is no magic remedy for parents, but I hope some of these tips prove helpful:

  • Be a parent first. You know your child and know how to support their needs. You may also want to share with your child’s teacher any behaviors you see that are impacting learning. Our teachers care deeply about their students and will partner with you to support your child.
  • Establish a schedule for “school” and adhere to it as much as possible. Having a routine can help you and your child manage. Don’t forget to build in brain breaks! Allow your child to move and release some energy. That definitely helps learning!
  • Don’t be afraid to “phone a friend.” If you are not sure how to help your child, contact the principal at your child’s school. In addition to our classroom teachers, there are many other staff ready to support and assist your family. Other friends include other parents or your child’s classmates. Several Facebook groups have been established with parents sharing tips. And do not underestimate the power of “kid talk.” Even when I was in the classroom, I frequently asked other students to help explain a concept to a peer when my explanation wasn’t doing it.
  • Allow your child to be independent. Help them use the resources available to them. Parents do not need to have all of the answers!
  • If you or your child is overly stressed, take a break! It is okay to step away and come back when the frustration has eased.
  • Maintain communication with the teacher or school administrators. Distance learning relies on collaboration. We need to support each other!