Education has been dramatically impacted by COVID-19. Across the U.S., parents are being notified that school will be taking place online, at least for the first part of the year. Keeping children attentive and motivated during the continuing pandemic is imperative.
If you’re a working parent, this may add even more stress. Even if you’re working from home, you may have to take on the role of educator, which requires time, energy and organization to pull off successfully.
With social distancing and safety in mind, you can address several key areas to help get the school year off to a great start: a dedicated learning space, effective motivation and organized scheduling.
Dedicated and safe learning spaces
Distance learning was gaining ground even before the pandemic: Nearly two-thirds of middle and high school students and nearly half of elementary school students use at least one digital learning tool every day. Although many parents and students lament the social effects of distance learning, distance learning offers many benefits. In addition to letting you connect more to your children and their studies, distance learning encourages kids to explore a vast array of subjects.
Studies also show that it leads to better information retention, 25%-60% rather than the 8%-10% of in-person education. This may be partly because it lets students revisit information and retake tests as needed, emphasizing learning over test scores and alleviating the pressure to get things right the first time. When children take assessments, immediate feedback is provided, and without their peers around, children are freer to express themselves and obtain critical feedback.
While it may seem intuitive, setting up a dedicated workspace, ideally somewhere other than your child’s bedroom, can facilitate the idea that they’re at school. It’s also vital to set a schedule that helps keep your children on task. The schedule should be detailed and include defined periods for breaks and meals.
Motivating your children
One great way to spark interest is to blur the boundaries between learning and play. One example when studying natural history is to invent a fictional extinct animal and have your children draw it and describe its habits. For middle school kids studying science, a project that tracks energy consumption in your home, along with ideas for saving energy and money, can be fun and productive.
Distance learning is an abrupt transition for many students, but there are creative ways to simulate the group environment, including actual small-group learning with small pods. Some parents are organizing groups of three or four students in outdoor, socially distanced learning sessions supervised by parents on a rotating basis. This way, students still get some social contact.
If this isn’t an option for your family, you can encourage your students to share aspects of their home life during distance learning sessions. Being able to intermingle personal touches creates engagement with fellow classmates and teachers and helps personalize the learning experience.
Organizing your virtual learning environment
One dividend from technology is the exciting array of tools and technology to facilitate learning. A pair of noise-canceling headphones can be both a reward and a learning tool. Drowning out extraneous background noise helps kids focus.
Similarly, a high-tech mouse and a good video monitor help kids navigate screens easily and see images and numbers clearly. If your children attend classes via videoconference, it might make sense to purchase a webcam if their computer doesn’t have one built in.
A supportive and comfortable desk chair can make the difference between being able to pay close attention for several hours and feeling antsy or drowsy within a few minutes. Good desk chairs can be expensive, but they’re an indispensable part of the at-home learning setup.
When you mortgage or refinance your home through First Centennial Mortgage, you can finance a home that allows essential space for distance learning. We look forward to discussing your personal home finance needs, including those that might relate to at-home learning.