by Nancy Weinstein, CEO of Mindprint Learning
Author’s Note: After working with parents, teachers, administrators (and my own children!) this Spring and Summer on remote school, I’ve discovered this top 5 list is essential for all students regardless of their Mindprint profile. Keep in mind that remote learning requires an even greater level of parent-teacher partnership. Parents and teachers should communicate regularly to ensure every kid gets what they need.
#1: Keep a Daily Schedule
Routine is essential during uncertain times. A schedule sets clear expectations of where students should be and what they should be doing. While many students might complain they don’t need schedule, every student (teacher and parent) will benefit. Post the schedule on a wall where it is clearly visible.
Best Practice: A schedule includes time for breaks. After 20 minutes for early elementary and students with weaker executive functions. At least every hour, even for high school students.
#2: Just Ask
With shifting schedules and more time spent alone, students struggling academically or emotionally can more easily be missed by parents and teachers during remote school. While it is natural for everyone to be struggling more during the pandemic, that doesn’t mean we ignore a few bad grades, missed classes, or poor participation and assume it’s just a “bad day”. It means we reach out to ensure every student gets the supports they need before bad days get worse.
Best Practice: Allocate time for social-emotional “check-ins” that don’t involve school work.
#3 Talk, Don’t Text (or Email)
Pre-COVID-19 there were no shortage of laments about a generation of students texting rather than talking. Adults seem to have slipped into the same bad habits. Make a concerted effort to speak to students one-to-one. Use text or email to set up a time to talk. But talk.
Best Practice for Teachers: Use a google doc to track your conversations with each student. Give a call if more than a few days have lapsed just to ask, “How are you?”
#4 Use Khan Academy
Pre-COVID-19 I admit I wasn’t a fan. With remote school I am a fan, when used in the right way. My beef with Khan is the delivery is the same as traditional classroom teaching. If students didn’t understand their teacher, why ask them to watch a video of the same thing? But with limited in-person time, Khan can be the most efficient way to teach some lessons. Let Khan teach the basics. Use teaching time to engage students with relevant, interesting examples, answer questions from the videos, work through problems together, and go deeper.
Best Practice for Teachers: Instruct students to stop the video when they have questions and write them down to ask you. Require students to stop the video at certain points to take notes, re-write formulas, etc. This type of active viewing will ensure they are learning and increase their retention. Here’s a student checklist for watching videos.
Best Practice for Parents: Accept that your kids are likely to prefer Sal Khan’s explanation over yours. HOWEVER don’t leave a struggling learner alone on Khan Academy. Sit with them. Let them pause the video and ask you questions. Provide help as needed to solve the end of lesson problems.
#5 Take Daily Walks
Fresh air. Exercise. Scheduled breaks. A daily walk checks all the boxes for parents and kids. Try to refrain from asking too many questions. You literally can discuss the weather. Or just listen. It’s amazing what kids will share while walking that they would never reveal inside.
Best Practice for Parents: If you have more than one child you can do family walks but consider if you want to rotate days so each child gets some one-on-one time.
Teachers, more questions about remote school? Contact us here.
Parents, get the insight you need to help your child this school year. Learn more about Mindprint.