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Parents are the First Teacher: How do I keep it going confidently with Remote Learning?

October 7, 2020

Remote learning, hybrid learning, in person learning with physical distanced, whichever one you are currently experiencing, none are easy and we need to give ourselves a little grace. As a fellow parent, full time (+ more) working parent, and school board member who made the decision for districtwide remote learning, I understand the pros and cons of the difficult decisions both parents and school districts needed to make this school year. However, with my unique view, I also understand the importance of grownups in the lives of our students. Recently, in my full-time role in Illinois, I provided a training that focused on 6 areas to think through as you are helping with online learning now or in the future. Before diving into those areas, it is important to answer these questions. Which of these qualities do you have?

  • Are you a strong communicator?  
  • Do you practice active listening?
  • Do you socialize with others or communicate with others for a goal? (i.e. collaborate?)
  • Are you able to adapt to new things? (i.e. change)
  • Are you able to engage in play or conversations with your child? 
  • Are you able to show empathy when your child is sad or hurt? 
  • Are you patient? 
  • Do you like to learn? And do you like (or miss) traveling as a way to learn? 

How many did you answer “yes” to? Regardless if you answered yes to 1 or all 8, you have qualities of a confident teacher. You embody the best practices to help your child/ren. But I acknowledge it is not easy.

So, here are 6 tips to help.

  1. Designate a space for learning. This does not mean to dictate where the student needs to learn in the house, but providing choice. Think about you as you work remotely. Do you work in the same spot every day? I know I don’t. Some days I want to sit on the couch, somedays at my desk, and somedays outside. Provide that choice to the children in your life.
  2. Limit distractions. Remember, what distracts you may not distract your child. We all have various ways that we engage and learn best. My son loves to tap a pen on the table as he is concentrating and working, but I cannot stand that noise. What are your triggers? Are they the same as your child’s triggers? How can you help your child/ren learn how to manage their own learning space and distractions?
  3. Create a schedule. Just as we create agendas for meetings, it is good to have an “agenda” or schedule for the day. This gives your child/ren a sense of more control and knowledge over their day. 
  4. Check in, but don’t be a helicopter. Create a schedule for yourself to check in on your child/ren. Let them know you are there to support. But remember, if they were at school, they would not have you to problem solve everything throughout their day.
  5. Exercise. Exercise with your child/ren throughout the day. This is part of the schedule, a time to enjoy time with each other, and gives you both a break. These are essentially built in brain breaks for both you and your children. 
  6. Self-care! Don’t let stress zap your energy and patience. It is so important to take care of yourself so you can be 100% for your child/ren. What are your self-care go-tos? How can you fit them into your day? Sometimes it takes some creativity and some to do lists for self-care, but finding time is important for your brain health and your relationship with your child/ren.

Just remember: “Parents create the environments and experiences in which learning happens, which makes them the first teachers their children will ever have” (and the longest standing teacher their child will ever have).

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