How to set your kids up for success in a time of social distancing
With a growing number of schools closing every day due to the coronavirus, students K-12 (and beyond) are transitioning to online and home schooling — thrusting parents into the new role of teacher/principal/administrator.
To help students make the most of their new educational environment that’s more online than in the classroom, we’ve gathered a few best practices to help set them on the path to success.
- Have (some) structure. Just because there’s no tardy bell doesn’t mean home school is a free for all. Being flexible with time is one of the major benefits of home schooling, but students still benefit from having a daily routine; it helps them to know what is expected of them, what milestones they’re working toward, and what they should focus on day by day.
Experts agree every day doesn’t have to be the same, and it’s fine to give kids time to explore on their own — but core subjects such as math, English, and age-appropriate sciences should follow a curriculum.
- Have goals. The importance of establishing goals can’t be overstated. Having a clear idea of what you want your child to accomplish will help you track progress and measure success. It’s good to establish both short-term (what should my child accomplish this day/week?) and long-term goals (what should my child accomplish this month/year?), and to track progress over time.
Goals should be attainable – not aspirational. Curriculum guides can provide a natural progression of goals for core curriculum subjects (for example, learn > drill > apply > progress).
- Give them space. Having a dedicated space is important for home schooling and online learning. For starters, it helps establish the line between home life and school life, putting your student in the right frame of mind for learning. It also helps with organization by creating a dedicated space for learning materials, laptops, projects and other supplies.
Note that dedicated doesn’t have to mean a separate space; designating a corner of a multi-use dining or kitchen table for your student works just as well as a converted guest bedroom.
- Take breaks. It’s not all about regimen and learning. Education experts agree that those periods of downtime during a typical school day — time between classes, lunch breaks, recesses — are critical to the learning process.
Allowing students to take the occasional 10-15 minute break will help improve their focus when learning; note that younger children typically require more frequent breaks than older students.
- Take advantage of online resources. Many school districts are providing online learning resources or suggested curriculums to help students continue their education during school closures. If your school district isn’t providing resources or curriculum, don’t despair — there are a wealth of online resources to help you continue your child’s education when they’re home. Two to start with include:
- NewAmerica.org has an exhaustive listing of openly licensed textbooks and online curriculums for students K-12 and beyond
- The U.S. Office of Educational Technology has also collected a number of openly licensed educational materials accessible online for students and parent/teachers to help with home schooling.
School may be out for the time being, but with these tips and access to online resources, education doesn’t have to stop for your at-home students. And you can rest assured that we at Viasat are committed to keeping you connected to vital educational resources as we all weather this crisis.