Your student at home: Five tips for learning outside the classroom
By Jan Barrick, CEO of Alpha Plus
We learned this week that students will not return to their classrooms for the rest of this year.
When Oklahoma students left for Spring Break, any chance of not returning to finish the school year seemed unlikely. Social distancing and quarantine are now important public health recommendations in response to COVID-19, factors that have already impacted our state’s students by prompting a shutdown period.
Distance learning will start April 6.
Campuses are closed. Teachers and administrators will be notifying families of school plans and distance-learning materials. State testing requirements and even standardized national tests like the ACT and SAT are being waived or rescheduled.
All signs point to a longer period away from structured learning inside the classroom.
How to make learning happen at home is at the forefront of discussions about the impact of COVID-19 on family life. Online resources for independent study fill parents’ inboxes and social media feeds. Navigating the new normal means sorting through what’s an ideal fit for your child.
Here are five tips to help foster education outside the classroom:
- Make plans flexible: The setting and dynamic of learning from home are vastly different from your child’s classroom. Structure your day but know that not everything you try will work. Give yourself permission to change strategies, make a new plan and try again. Keep your own expectations in check.
- Appeal to your child’s interests and allow yourself to be amazed: If one aspect of a subject fascinates your child, explore that area. Capitalize on children’s natural curiosity and go from there. Let their hobbies, questions and affinities be your guide. It’s easy to leave out the joy of learning if you’re just trying to teach concepts instead of finding fun or beauty in them. Focus on rediscovering what’s amazing rather than trying to thoroughly impart academic knowledge. Learn alongside your child to stay engaged.
- Use age-appropriate materials: You may expect that your child is ready for a higher academic level than what is appropriate. Work through grade-level materials first to avoid frustration and maintain a sense of normalcy by building on familiar concepts.
- Respect your child’s learning style: Try a variety of materials and find what works best for your student. If an app or website holds more appeal than flashcards or a textbook, there’s no harm in foregoing methods that aren’t working. The school day is not just dedicated to strict rote memorization and recitation, after all. YouTube and TikTok do have valid academic uses. Read reviews on apps and preview content if you’re concerned.
- Keep it short: There is no need to pursue a six or eight-hour school day. Focused learning can only last as long as your child’s attention span. Try twenty minutes of the four main subjects: literacy, math, science and history. Add art, music and gym for variety. Meditation and quiet time are also part of many school settings.