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How Parents Can Help Their Kids While Managing Distance Learning

Parents like who’ve been repurposed as teachers or managers of their kids’ schoolwork can benefit from the wisdom of experienced educators. Several teachers offered advice for mothers and fathers who need a hand.

Start with fun. “Try to have some fun before you get started,” said Becky Van Ry, an elementary school science teacher. Run around the house or do some yoga.

Build a routine. Kids do best when the world is predictable, said psychologist and author Lisa Damour. Start with “aspirational” practices—everyone up by 7:00 a.m., class starts at 8:00 a.m.—and refine them as needed.

Trust the teachers. A lot of parents are sending around cool STEM projects and off-the-shelf English assignments. Though well-intended, such work shouldn’t supplant the assignments given to students by their teachers. If a child is desperate for supplemental work, fine. But otherwise, stick to what the teachers require.

If you’re stumped, turn it over to the teachers. Making sense of and then explaining concepts that parents (might have) learned 30 years ago could be impossible. This is the time for kids to contact their teachers.

It requires the whole family. This might take some creative juggling of schedules, but the at-home learning can’t be left to one parent. And children crave their parents’ attention, during the best of times. Though not a peaceful period, this odd disruption in ordinary life might provide a rare window for some parents to spend quantity time with their children.

Remember to wait. Children take more time to process questions than adults might realize, said Vicky Tong, a middle-school science teacher, especially if the question isn’t in writing.  Being patient with a child’s answer encourages thinking and builds confidence. Consciously waiting for kids to respond will also prevent parents from doing the work for them.

Keep it low-key. It’s OK if your child doesn’t finish something, “We’re just getting started,” Van Ry said about online learning. “Nobody knows what they’re doing,” she added. “Every family in the U.S. feels the same way.”

Excerpted from “How Parents Can Help Their Kids While Managing Distance Learning” in MindShift. Read the full article for more details on the above and additional tips.

Source: MindShift | How Parents Can Help Their Kids While Managing Distance Learning, https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/55621/how-parents-can-help-their-kids-while-managing-distance-learning | © 2020 KQED INC

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