Each day the news brings more unprecedented closures including our schools. How can you help your student stay on track, or maybe even gain ground during this time?
Fortunately, many students are already familiar with some form of online learning. The challenge is to help them stick to a schedule. We all do it. We get an unexpected snow or hurricane day and all we want to do is relax and enjoy. This closure is different. It isn’t a day to two. So far in Florida we are looking at two weeks and there is a very real possibility that it may be longer than that.
It is critical that your student continue as though he or she was still attending school. Set up a work area and time expectations. Be specific! Don’t just say, “Go do your schoolwork.” Help them set expectations for how long assignments will take and prepare a schedule from there. I find it helpful to set time blocks rather than task completion. For example:
8:00 - 9:15 Math
9:30 - 10:30 Language Arts
10:45 - 12:00 History
12:00 - 12:45 Lunch
12:45 - 2:00 Science
2:00 - 2:45 Remaining Subjects
If your student says that they have completed a subject in less than their allotted time, remind them to go back and review prior or look ahead to future topics. When students know they are committed for a certain period of time, they are less likely to rush through an assignment just to complete it. Also, if your student found a specific topic challenging, this is the time to go back and tackle it. Make use of the flexibility of this time to fill in gaps and shore up any weak spots in your student’s comprehension. You can identify these topics by going through old tests or grade reports.
You don’t have to be a qualified teacher or expert in an area to make sure your student is staying on track. Ask them what they are learning in each subject. Have them explain it to you. Ask specific questions like: “Is this similar to anything you have studied before?”, “How is finding the area of a circle different from finding the area of a square?”, “Do you apply the same steps every time?”. Most importantly, show them that you are interested and that what they are learning is important. Don’t ask if their homework is done! Ask specific questions about what they learned.
What happens if your student gets stuck on a topic and needs help? If they have a regular tutor for that subject, reach out to that person. Maybe they can talk it through over the phone or arrange a video chat. If your student doesn’t have access to a tutor, they can google the topic. There are an infinite number of sources available online. Be careful that the site they are using is a reputable site. Some sites are merely other students thoughts or attempts, which may or may not be valid answers to the question.
Most importantly applaud your student’s effort. After all, that is ALL they can control. Let them know that you are there to help them or to help them get help. Also remind them that no one is perfect and that you want them to strive not struggle.
These are unprecedented times but they also bring unprecedented opportunities.