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Distance Learning for Young Children: Do’s & Don’ts

Parent Resources

20th November 2020

The spread of the coronavirus pandemic has produced a cascade of school closings. As a result, moving towards distance learning or remote instruction is a necessity in these difficult times. Online learning offers children the opportunity to learn from the comfort of their homes, but it also has its downsides.

Before enrolling your child into a distance learning program, please review these dos and don’ts.

Do:

1. Create Educational Goals

The world of remote learning is an excellent place to introduce children to goal setting. In remote learning, children are given choices and have control over their learning. Setting goals and working towards them teaches children perseverance. These skills also boost children’s confidence and increase their ability to build healthy relationships. Plus, you’re encouraging critical thinking and kindness.

Setting goals helps families and teachers gauge a child’s progress in the educational plan. There are different types of goals your child can set, from long-term and short-term goals. For some children, it comes naturally. Others need a bit of a push.

Some examples of age-appropriate goals for young children might include greeting their teacher or classmates by name, raising their hand to share during discussion time, making sure to move their bodies when it’s time to take a break, and making sure to stay hydrated/eat snacks when it’s appropriate to do so.

2. Practice Virtual Learning Etiquette

Good habits for children is key to setting them on a path for success in remote learning. When students operate with the same courtesies and norms they’d use in person, they can transform the online learning experience. Being respectful is important in every class meeting and outside of class as well.

Taking notes will help keep them more engaged during class, although this of course only goes for children who are old enough to write. Younger children may have a harder time sitting still and staying engaged, and this is okay – it’s developmentally appropriate for children to need to move. Next, encourage them not to be silly during learning time , or make faces or disruptive noises when others are speaking. This is important because students of any age can have a hard time staying focused for long periods of time, whether online or in person.

3. Find a Quiet and Uninterrupted Space

Creating the right space is an important part of academic success. Distance learning can be stressful, so it’s best done in a place with an environment that is free from distractions and comfortable for your child. It’s also important for you to be nearby, to support them if they need help, if they have challenges with their equipment, and even so they don’t get too lonely.

The location of your study space is extremely important and should be free of distraction as much as possible. . Noise from your neighbor, traffic outside, or television can make it hard to concentrate. Choosing the room next to a toddler’s playroom may also not be ideal.

For solitude seekers, set up space in a bedroom or an out-of-the-way spot. This doesn’t necessarily imply that you have to find a place that’s completely silent.

4. Personalize the Learning

Personalized learning is an educational approach that revolves around each individual student’s needs and abilities. It tries to create a learning experience that is based on the student’s strengths, needs, skills, and interests. This is an excellent way for students to develop metacognitive as well as cognitive skills.

5. Encourage a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is an idea that it’s possible to increase intelligence levels. A growth mindset fosters motivation, resilience, and persistence. If your children have worked hard but haven’t achieved what they wanted, notice the effort.

Get the Right Tech

Currently, there’s no standardized way to implement remote learning. But no matter how your children are learning, they’re going to need the same tech gear.

They’ll need a computer that they can use to complete coursework online. Whether it is a desktop or a laptop, any computer will do. For a portable option, a lightweight tablet will do the trick.

Don’t:

1. Unstructured Lessons

Children’s learning activities can take two different forms: structured lessons and unstructured lessons. In unstructured learning, there’s no linear journey from A to B to C and so on. Kids love unstructured time because they have the opportunity to take risks and fail without judgment. This unconventional approach in the classroom parallels child-rearing centered around unstructured play. Essentially, the child makes his own decisions.

There’s one problem, though. While this approach is ideal for physical classrooms, it is not recommended for virtual classrooms. The consequences associated with selecting an unstructured learning activity in a virtual classroom can be enormous and may defeat the purpose. This is because it can create a lack of engagement, lack of connection, and distractions.

2. Encourage Passive Learning

Passive Learning is a learning method the student determines what they should learn. As the learner is required to absorb rather than act on knowledge, they are considered ‘passive’ rather than ‘active.’ Assessment techniques like quizzes, exams, and handouts are used to evaluate the learning progress. In any case, the student is accountable for paying attention and asking questions. Although a passive learning environment may work for older children in physical classrooms, it is not an effective remote learning method, particularly for young children.

Distance Learning for Young Children: Final Thoughts

Ultimately, distance learning is far from ideal for young children, and wherever possible, they should be getting as much in-person interaction and instruction as possible, but given the limitations, hopefully these suggestions will make sure that they can continue to learn and grow even in these circumstances.

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