Distance learning has caused challenges for families everywhere, but nowhere is it more challenging than that of young families.
No matter how awesome the lessons might be, a parent has to be there to supervise, troubleshoot, supply provide, set up, clean up, and manage the work.
Like it or not, schools have become child care centers for working parents. For distance learning to be successful, schools have to realize the constraints parents have in monitoring and physically caring for the child throughout the work.
As we are on the front lines of working with families and bridging that work to schools, we see this up close and personal on a daily basis. Parents are stressed because what they have to manage is beyond possible.
To create a sense of empathy - imagine you are tasked to work - which requires your full focus and attention and you also have to take all of the lessons your child is provided, make sense of them, organize them so that your child can complete them, supervise them, answer questions as they come up, source supplies for them and manage the focus and regulation needed to complete them.
If we are to make this sustainable for families with children of all ages, we'll need to consider this very aspect of the distance learning programs.
Here are three ways schools can help families with child care:
Add in supervision calls
Teachers or teacher aids can add in time to be on ZOOM or FaceTime with students to supervise them as they complete work. Adults at home still have to be involved, but it would minimize the full focus parents have to give at this time to make learning and daily work successful.
Teachers can list out work more carefully - trying to think of ways to allow for as much independence as possible
An activity in a classroom prior to COVID-19 might have children share vocabulary related to Spring and have them make a collage with those words. This exact activity might come home for distance learning - however, it requires a LOT of parent work to complete.
Instead, teachers could write an email at the start of the week sharing what supplies are needed for the week. Then, really break down the process so that a very young child could follow it. (coupled with ZOOM supervision- this could really help!)
Make smaller groups on live calls
The smaller the groups on a LIVE call, the better chance you have that kids will connect with it - providing parents with that much-needed opportunity to work during school hours.
If you are short on staff and have older students in your community, you might think about pairing them up to provide some additional supervision and connection. Just be sure to train your older students on how to connect appropriately and safely with younger students.
If your school needs support with implementing distance learning for your students, then we are here to help! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a call!