11 practical tips for learning from home

15+ min read

This story originally appeared on PCMag

11 practical tips for learning from home
11 practical tips for learning from home

“It’s funny, I always thought I was doing the right thing and preventing my kids from having devices.”said Dr. Leigh Duffy about her two sons, ages 8 and 10. The family doesn’t share a computer or iPads, and their children have very limited screen time. They enjoy reading books and playing outside. However, when the coronavirus pandemic broke out, the kids suddenly tried to study at home and were unfamiliar with their mother’s laptop. What is the Chrome browser? How do I upload a file? “At first I thought it was good parenting,” he said, “but it turned out to be an obstacle.”

Their experience shows how little prepared parents were for home study programs when COVID-19 first appeared and what monumental tasks families have when it comes to going back to school this year. In addition to helping two children study at home, Duffy (Revelation: She’s my sister) is an assistant professor of philosophy at SUNY Buffalo State. In other words, she has the added perspective of an educator who also had to move her college courses to an online environment.

Since March or April, when most schools were closed for the remainder of the school year, parents and students have had the opportunity to think ahead of what the 2020-2021 school year might bring. Depending on local conditions, students may be able to return to school permanently (or until an outbreak sends them home), part-time at school, or at home for the foreseeable future.

I spoke to Duffy about her experience as a kindergarten teacher and mother of school-age children to get an idea of ​​what was going well for her and what could be improved next time around. I also spoke to someone who studied most of their home education, Caroline Ousley Naseman. Ousley Naseman grew up in school with several siblings and graduated from school in 2017. As a young adult with a few years of looking back, she is now in a unique position to reflect on what home learning is all about. be a successful experience.

Through these conversations, we found some tips for parents trying to manage school attendance. These tips are generalized and may not apply to all students or households. You know better about your own situation. The challenges can also be more difficult for students with special needs or different skills. So adjust these tips to suit your needs and remember that no one knows how to do it “right”. We all do the best we can.

1. Enable individual learning


Each student has unique interests, as well as a different attention span, the ability to use technology without the distractions, etc. In comparison to studying in the classroom, teaching at home allows for much more individualization.

I asked Caroline Ousley Naseman what differences she noticed between studying and her siblings. “We all focused on different topics, so the learning style was adapted to each child and the material they were studying,” he said. “My brother has a hands-on approach to learning while my sister does well with a textbook approach. I’m somewhere in between.”

Being at home also gives students more flexibility in how to express their self-motivation. If they are quick to master a new skill or concept, encourage them to use it creatively. Online study sites like the free Khan Academy can help students when textbooks and worksheets fail. In addition, video-based online tutoring costs much less than in-person tutoring. These resources allow students to work at their own pace, getting additional help if needed, and dealing with topics or ideas that pique their interest. Language learning services are also another way to complement your children’s education. Some courses are even free.

2. Asking and giving help

As a kindergarten teacher and mom, Duffy says don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. “Many of us are frustrated [al comienzo de COVID-19] because we thought we had to find out for ourselves, “he said. At home, for example, he was very involved while his kids were learning to use their laptops. The kids were only familiar with Chromebooks, which they use in school.

“I was talking to another parent about how difficult it is to use the Mac and they said, ‘We got a Chromebook from school.’ I thought they were reserved for the lower income brackets and this person said, “No, no, no, just ask the teacher.” And so we did it! And as soon as I asked, they said, “Absolutely!” “If If she hadn’t asked, her family’s school would never have borrowed a Chromebook.

Help is often available, but the person who needs it doesn’t know. Duffy sees him with his students. If they were late to submit an order because they did not have a reliable internet connection or were unable to attend a live class due to device limitations, this could usually have helped by extending a deadline or giving specific instructions. “I’ll be happy to help you solve it if I know what the problem is,” he said.

Remember, many teachers learn a whole host of new skills through distance learning. More than ever, you need parents and students to ask for help in battle.

Some teachers will also have problems with the new tools this year. Is it the first time your children are working in a remote study room? You may need to do some research on your own, such as using Google Classroom to help your children. Any advice you can find can be passed on to other parents and maybe even teachers.

3. Pay attention to both physical and social skills

“Some of the best things I learned from homeschooling,” said Ousley Naseman, “were life skills that were not necessarily taught in a traditional school setting: self-discipline, responsibility, dealing with a workload with no deadlines.” founded by another person “.

Education is much more than academics. Very young students learn fine motor skills, share and take turns, and older students work on more socialization, time management skills, etc.

Duffy said one thing he’ll be doing differently in the upcoming school year is teaching more organizational skills. Her youngest son had nearly a dozen different websites that he needed for schoolwork and had trouble following them. Duffy said she’d like her kids “to see what’s being organized instead of freaking out every time they have to log in. You could teach them how to use a password manager or show them how to keep a written record of it.” [nombres de usuario y contraseñas] if there are only two or three locations. “

4. Make a space for studying


Studying at home is similar to working from home in that it is much easier to separate your personal life from your work or school life when you literally create boundaries. Choose a place to work in school, either at a desk or just in a private space around the kitchen table. Try to do it differently than when your children have personal time. For example, if your children are working at the kitchen table, ask them to choose one chair for school lessons and another chair for meals.

Plus, having to keep standing up to find a particular pen, laptop charger, or book is annoying. One strategy is to keep supplies close by in a basket or box. In this way, the students can quickly put away all materials and exit the “school mode” after the study time has expired. Checking out and storing supplies marks the beginning and the end of the school day.

When it comes to reducing distractions, it is important to create a virtual space that is conducive to learning. While Duffy’s little kids didn’t have much screen time, his story could be different, especially if your kids are older. You can ensure that your laptop is an easy-to-use learning environment by creating a separate user account for your children in Windows. This is especially important if you don’t have your own laptops. Setting up an account prevents them from accessing other people’s files who share the computer.

5. Create consistency and predictability


“I say this as an educator and as a parent: a schedule and consistency makes life so much better,” said Duffy. Flexibility can certainly save the day when things go wrong, but having clear expectations about the daily routine can make kids feel normal, especially during this time when everything else is abnormal.

As a college professor, Duffy taught video-dubbed classes for students, though she said she had a very flexible attendance policy. “The overwhelming answer was ‘I’m so glad I had this course because it gave me consistency.’ Many of his students lost their jobs, lived far from their families, and had no particular reason to leave their dormitories every day. “Some of them said, ‘It gave me a reason to get up and something to look forward to, and it gave me an opportunity to connect with people my age, ‘”she said.

6. But also be flexible


Consistency sets expectations. However, flexibility gives you freedom. The freedom to solve problems. The freedom to skip a lesson when a student is learning it quickly. The freedom to stick with something longer if it is not understood. The freedom to spend more time on art, music, the gym, and other topics that are sometimes removed from public schools.

Flexibility also allows you to solve problems. For example, if a student doesn’t have access to their homework in the morning, they can simply change it to what’s on their afternoon schedule.

In the broadest sense, home study gives you the flexibility to live life differently. Ousley Naseman said to me, “My siblings and I have benefited greatly from the flexibility that homeschooling offers. We have been able to travel a lot, adapt our curricula to what each of us is interested in, and work at the same time. And a pace to suit.”

Traveling may be off the table these days, but there are other ways you can use the flexibility for a positive learning experience and a rich life.

7. Combine learning experiences


Classroom training generally has limitations on how students relate to what they are learning. When asked what they could do differently in the fall semester than in the spring, Duffy said, “I could try to get whatever they learn out of the house with a hands-on activity, so they can be connected and stuff.” Take a break from sitting in front of a screen for six hours. “This makes sense for children who love the outdoors. Encourage students to connect with their interests, passions, and curiosities.

Ousely Naseman had more general advice in this area. “Listen to your child and let them control the learning experience,” he said. “You don’t feel the need to rush things or check boxes. However, as a parent, it’s also important to step in from time to time and make sure your child has the basics in all of them.”

8. Accept that not every day will be ideal.

When they first move home to work or education, people are less able to forgive themselves when they have bad days. When children go to school they don’t have perfect study days every day, but parents don’t always see it.

Acknowledge a bad day and be ready to move on. Take days off if necessary. It is time to put self-sufficiency before productivity as children, like their parents, are feeling additional stress from the pandemic.

9. Set pauses


In the spring, Duffy started every school day with a morning walk. He repeated the amount of time his children usually had outdoors when they went to school. Then they started studying at 9:00 a.m. They took a break at noon. “They would wait for noon if they could go out for half an hour,” he said. They also looked forward to 2:30 when they knew they would finish their job and be out again.

Predictable breaks can help students manage their time and attention. It also gives them time to cool down and think about what’s important. Breaks can reduce stress and increase productivity, even for children. More information on breaks in general (adults need them too!).

10. 2 to 4 good academic hours are enough


On an episode of NPR Life kitEducational trainer Ana Homayoun encourages parents and other homeschoolers to “do two to four good academic hours a day”. When you factor in breaks, lunches, young learner break time, and other distractions, you may find that planning a six-hour shift translates into three and a half to four hours of study time. That’s enough.

11. Remember: we all do our best


Since Duffy had her two children home for the first time since school and discovered they were struggling with computer literacy, she’s changed her mind about screen time. “They both have e-mail from home now,” he said, “and they both played Minecraft. Their screen time is still very limited, but it is enough for them to be comfortable on the computer.”

At a time when expectations are constantly changing, predicting what life will be like a month or a year from now is harder than ever. And if we can’t predict well, we can’t plan well either. Be ready to adapt and remember that we are all doing our best.

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