How Should I Prepare My Child for Virtual Schooling?
By Jennifer K. Hale
Many of us got a little taste of what virtual schooling could feel like back in the spring when the spread of Covid-19 forced nationwide school building closures and a shift to virtual education. At that time, our nation’s educators faced a mountain of challenges: lack of information, lack of understanding of virtual platforms and how to make them work for students, lack of preparation, and for many students, a lack of reliable internet or computer resources in the home. Parents faced a lack of education themselves while also confronting issues with childcare. The shift came without much warning and the unpreparedness teachers felt was not their fault. Many veteran virtual educators came together to develop resources to help new online teachers become successful.
Students got a taste of virtual education in the spring as well, but as we prepare to return to school in the fall, the expectations of virtual education will be different and you should prepare your child for the changes and enhancements they will see in the virtual setting.
The key to preparing our students to have a successful school year is in how you present the information. Your student will react to your attitude, so the more excitement and enthusiasm you show, the more likely your student is to feel the same way. Positivity is key when facing a new challenge. What a wonderful thing it is that we live in a time when virtual education is an option to keep our nation going during a pandemic!
Here are some things that you and your student should know:
- Teachers have received more virtual education training. At this point, brick and mortar school teachers have had and continue to receive training about virtual platforms and tools and how to use them.
- Administrators have developed a detailed plan. Students and teachers have been virtually paired together with intention and scheduling has been taken into consideration.
- Teachers are now aware of more resources to help build a strong virtual classroom and are adding new resources daily.
- Platforms for live teaching have been purposefully obtained by school districts. Live sessions will be held on a schedule and with the purpose of live instruction.
- Successful virtual schooling requires support from parents and learning coaches.
So what should you do as a parent to help your student prepare?
- Once you have your student’s schedule, go over it with your child. Make sure your child knows when to log into live sessions. Set alarms, write it out and post it somewhere close to the schoolwork space, etc. As a parent, you’ll also need to look at your own schedule, childcare plans, and create a calendar that supports your student. Keep in mind virtual schooling will require student attendance and participation daily.
- Create a workspace at home with minimal distractions. Keep the TV off and the phone put away when students are working on schoolwork. This is absolutely vital for student engagement.
- Get your student excited about live sessions! Remind them that they will be able to talk to their teacher and engage with their peers, similarly to how they would in a traditional classroom.
- Communicate with teachers regularly. Read all emails from teachers and be aware of expectations, plans, and updates. This is key to your student’s success.
- Discuss expectations with your child. Virtual schooling may be challenging for some—learning on the computer is certainly not what they are used to. Talk about why it’s important to pay attention to the teacher, complete work on time, participate in class, and treat virtual education just as seriously as they would if they were in the traditional classroom.
- Create moments of rest and fun. During breaks from class, make sure your student is up and moving around, getting proper hydration and nourishment, and taking breaks from screen time.
- Be realistic. We live in uncertain times and plans change from day to day. Give yourself and your student grace and praise for getting through each day and accomplishing daily tasks.
Prepare your child for virtual education by encouraging them with positivity about the situation. Make the new schedule exciting. While you might not be shopping for back to school clothes or lunch boxes, make virtual schooling just as fun in other ways—new school supplies for home, allowing them to decorate their workspace and color their own calendar, etc. Allow your student to choose their “first day of school” outfit for their first day of live classes on camera and help them feel excited about the new way the nation is learning. Remind them they are not alone—millions of children across the country will be learning virtually this fall.
We’re all in this together. Thanks to technology, our children can continue their education with qualified teachers uninterrupted. With gratitude we can take on a whole new view of our current situation and the outlook of our nation. While tomorrow may be unknown, the future is still bright for our students.
Jennifer K. Hale is an Assistant Principal at Georgia Cyber Academy High School. She is passionate about student success through high quality teaching and best practices. Originally a history teacher, she is also passionate about helping students to become active, knowledgeable citizens of our nation.
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