This is How to Successfully Navigate At-Home Learning
How to balance working from home with at-home learning, tips for remote learning, and how local parents are handling at-home learning.
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It’s also helpful to include a designated time for homework help, Notis and Rifkin say. “Do not help your children during school hours,” they say. Instead guide them when they are working on out-of-classroom assignments.
Establish a routine.
Before you begin at-home learning, establish a routine that includes getting up around the same time each day, getting dressed, and eating a good breakfast, Selinger says. If kids have to get dressed in real clothes, parents can't stay in pajamas all day either.
Make sure your kids get a good night’s sleep.
Social distancing is not an excuse to let the kids stay up late, especially on a school night. "Sleep is crucial for learning. Even if a child loses an hour of sleep…you’re compromising their ability to learn," Selinger says. "Sleep is also crucial for attention, memory, emotional regulation. Do not compromise your child’s sleep."
Create an ideal learning environment.
“It’s important to establish a designated school area, outside of your child’s bedroom if possible, to distinguish between school time and free time,” Notis and Rifkin say. But keep in mind, kids can work in many different places and ways: inside alone, outside with friends, sitting at a desk, or on the floor, Dr. Aronian says. The setting should be COVID-safe, but it could be a patio, closet, hideaway, yard, or hallway—or it could be a combination of spaces. In fact, studies prove that changing locations throughout the day will help kids reset and remember information.
Dr. Aronian says kids should have a hand in personalizing the space—which can be done with paintings, murals, wallpaper, pictures, photos, and decor. Another useful decoration: academic visuals—ask your kids’ teachers for specifics about the curriculum and then hang up learning tools like multiplication tables or word lists.
Also, make sure your child has adequate lighting, including as much natural light as possible. Dr. Aronian recommends an open window or air purifiers to make sure the room is well ventilated.
Don’t be afraid to get help from the pros.
“Most parents are not educators and you’re not expected to turn into one,” says Erica Maltz, the founder and CEO of WhizKidz Tutoring. “Utilize resources from your schools, online educational websites and apps, tutors, and any other education professionals who can help guide you. You’re not in this alone.”
Many families are forming pods (small groups of kids that can learn together) either online or with the help of a hired teacher. “Pods are an effective way to re-enforce everything that students learned in online classes,” Notis and Rifkin say. “Also your child feels a personal connection and has someone who can break down concepts and can answer specific questions and concerns.” Plus, as Selinger points out, it’s nice for kids to have some company. “Humans are social creatures, and learning is social.
Teachers are also a good resource. Notis and Rifkin urge parents to email their kids’ teachers and introduce themselves as soon as they are assigned. “Tell your teachers your concerns upfront. Discuss your learning style and how you have been impacted by remote learning. Ask your teacher how he or she plans to accommodate for remote learning.”
Give your kids opportunities to connect with friends every day.
"It’s really important that every day, children and parents are connecting with others, whether it’s family or peers,” Selinger says. “If they can visually connect with others through video chat, and it becomes a routine, it creates a connection and decreases anxiety. Now is a good time to pick up the phone and talk to people."
If you need more resources for navigating at home learning, InsideSchools, a website providing insight to the NYC education scene, is offering a free online class for families called "How to Support Online Learning at Home." The course helps families navigate the online learning process in NYC schools, with everything from your goals and online learning in NYC schools to the challenges of online learning and creating a learning schedule.
For many of us, at-home learning became an unexpected challenge during the coronavirus quarantine. It may be one of our toughest assignments yet as parents—navigating online and often confusing classwork, interpreting teacher comments, trying to force a restless kid to sit long enough in his chair to watch one more learning video. Plus, many of us are trying to balance working from home with this new responsibility of learning at home. How do we stay sane while facing these challenges? We asked a few of our favorite New York parenting influencers how they managed the at-home learning challenges brought forth by COVID-19 in the spring. Here is what they told us.
“My one trick for staying sane while my kids home school is definitely staying organized. There is an obscene amount of books, folders, and printable material we are dealing with on a daily basis and it can get overwhelming. Knowing organization is key, we file every piece of paper in its proper folder immediately after each use. It makes it so much easier to find your science handouts when they are actually in the science folder!”
—Geanine Cilenti-Petraglia, @geaninecilenti, Bronx
“My trick for keeping my sanity is exercise. You will now find a stationary bike placed in the middle of our in our living room—while taking up valuable space (and looking quite unsightly) it is the only thing that is keeping my sanity!
—Beth Beckman, @littlekidnyc, Manhattan
“I’m continuing what my son’s teacher does in class by having a “Super Star Jar.” Each day, if they behave and do their schoolwork, their names go in the jar. On Sunday night (after dinner so I can squeeze out a little more decorum), I pick a name. The winner gets to pick anything they want that’s less than $10 from Amazon. Then the name goes in a second Super Super Star Jar. Once this is all over, I’ll pick a name from that jar, and the winner gets to pick whatever they want for $25.”
—Stacey Gish Wallenstein, @themintchipmama, Long Island
“I plan the night before and make sure I understand the lessons and have all materials ready. It also helps to have a clean space for the kids to do their work. I home-schooled my kids for 3 years while we traveled, and this is a tactic that I brought back into our lives. Also...if things aren't working out, change it up or take a break. And after all the work is done, take a moment for yourself. Whether that means eating ice cream alone or drinking a glass of scotch, have a moment of alone time.”
—Jason Greene, @thejasongreene, Manhattan
“The one thing that is keeping me sane during this crazy time is waking up before my children and getting in a quick workout of yoga or hopping on my new mini elliptical I just purchased, having a cup of coffee in silence, and then I’m ready for the day!”
—Brianne Manz, @strollerinthecity, Manhattan