As schools across the Southland have shut down to help curb the coronavirus outbreak, parents are scrambling to transform their homes into remote classrooms. Our phones and emails are abuzz with instructions and classroom assignments from teachers and administrators. Whether you have little ones or middle or high schoolers, we’re here to help you navigate what is, for most of us, new territory in home learning. No matter how long the quarantine lasts, we hope you can incorporate the home learning tips we’ve gathered into your home life even once most of our kids are back in their brick-and-mortar schools.
Eric Oldfield, father of two school-age daughters and chief business officer of Brainly, a website where high school and middle school students from around the world share knowledge and solve problems, offers a few tips for students who are suddenly having to school from home (SFH) to maximize their productivity:
Carve Out Space. Setting up a dedicated SFH zone that is organized and tech ready is crucial to maintaining a routine and ensuring academic success. If you are not able to carve out space for a desk and your student is working at a kitchen table, on the couch or on a countertop, Brainly recommends having a designated school bag where they keep their computer and any necessary school materials. This allows them to be flexible in their schoolwork space but also have everything they need in one place.
Get Dressed. For many students starting to SFH for the first time, it can be difficult to delineate the start of the school day and ensure they get in the right academic mental space without the physical classroom around them. One of the best ways to ensure kids continue academic routines and success is to encourage them to actually get up and get dressed for the day.
Break time. The easiest way students can ensure they’re able to stay focused when learning from home is to take breaks to recharge their minds. The best way to maximize productivity is by taking short breaks – five to 15 minutes – every hour or so. Then take a longer break – at least 30 minutes – every two to four hours.
Make time for social interaction. Humans are social animals, and SFH can feel isolated for many students who are used to highly social interactions and periods of time throughout their day. Online communities such as Brainly and Kahoot bring in elements of social learning and encourage collaboration and the exchange of knowledge and ideas.
Brian Galvin, L.A.-based chief academic officer for Varsity Tutors and an expert on virtual homeschooling, says parents can use the coronavirus outbreak as a chance to teach students about the world. “Coronavirus shows how interconnected the world is,” Galvin says. “It’s a good chance to learn some geography, locating affected and unaffected countries on a map.
“No one likes busy work, but it’s not too hard to find ways to incorporate academic content into current events or a student’s own interests,” he says. “The wild ride of the stock market lends itself well to math problems; the global interconnectedness of what’s going on is a great opportunity to delve into maps and learn about other countries.