Are you someone experiencing a parent challenge with distance learning? You are not alone.
Distance learning has been the norm for students since the start of the pandemic. The daily routine before the pandemic hit was to drop off children at school and go to work.
Then, the teachers teach them at school and assist them in different subjects.
Right now, if you’re a parent, your duty is not just to go to work to provide for your family but to be a homeschool teacher, as well.
Don’t get me wrong: teachers do their best, despite the challenges of distance. However, it’s now all up to the parents to oversee whether or not their kids understand the online lessons or if they’re really learning.
What if you’re a single parent with three kids? You have to assist and handle three kids with different personalities and temperaments-and schoolwork assignments.
And to top it all off, you have to go to work…
We’ve done our research and these are the difficulties that parents experience with distance learning and some coping tips you could use to make it a little bit easier and manageable.
Most of the time, children don’t know a thing about troubleshooting.
When something goes wrong with the connection or the device or laptop itself, it’s up to Mom or Dad to save the day.
What if the problem is more complicated and cannot be done by a router reset? And what if the parents themselves aren’t really techy? The child can miss an entire day or several subjects.
In the Philippines and other countries, most of the time we struggle with our internet connection. There are even times in some areas that there will be an internet blackout.
Furthermore, login information and passwords can sometimes be forgotten and that’s a whole other problem.
- Some schools use Zoom Meetings that get cut off every after 40 minutes and the student has to ask for the Zoom meeting ID for each and every subject, which can be arduous. And because of the wait for the correct information, the child may miss a class.
- Some schools use Google Meet where the link is repeatedly used to avoid confusion.
Use Lastpass App to save your passwords and allow auto-fill. Or keep all the passwords and logins needed for school in a document and paste it on the computer desktop where it can easily be seen by your child.
If you’re more traditional, print or write all the necessary information on a piece of paper and have it laminated. Paste it on the wall.
2. Additional expenses
With distance learning, you do not entirely rely on a computer or Google Docs for your child’s notes. You will still need books, notebooks, pens – the usual.
But this time, you will also need a laptop or a tablet with a working camera and headphones. These are all unexpected expenses that parents didn’t include in their budget.
There are other choices if one has no gadget or internet connection, which what we call the “modular approach.” This is where the teacher gives the students a week’s worth of homework or reviewers ahead of time.
You can use a tablet because it is cheaper than a new laptop. If you buy a used laptop, make sure that an expert inspects it to see if the specs are still great and the age of the software.
You may end up spending more if it malfunctions right in the middle of a school year.
3. Difficulties in subjects, especially math
Let’s face it, math is not a subject that is loved by all. I still get nightmares about it!
The old math method where you “carry the one” is the method we’re all used to growing up. Right now students are required to do the Grouping Method.
This goes beyond simple arithmetic and dives into deeper mathematical concepts. Imagine having more than one child and they all need you to help with math?
As mentioned above, the other way to learn for others who don’t have gadgets or internet connection is the modular learning method.
Let me share with you what I saw on social media. As I scroll through the feeds, I can see all the complaints of parents who have more than once child.
One student is tasked to finish a week’s worth of homework, and according to what I read…
It’s not only a week’s worth (it’s a lot) and it’s challenging their sanity.
Because of the near deadline, they have to finish all of it. Kids will be kids sometimes and they don’t always fully participate, despite the reprimanding.
We can’t blame them if they easily get tired, bored, or distracted. They have short attention spans which I will talk about in the next item.
You could rely on outside help and get a math tutor. You would spend extra but you will be able to lift some serious weight off your shoulders.
The other tip is to learn again. Sorry to say this you can’t teach your children if your methods are different from theirs.
Google is your best friend and so is Alexa. Ask away but don’t cheat. Teach your children the concepts and the solutions, not just the answers.
Make it exciting for your kids so they don’t see studying as a chore.
Do the activities as a team.
Reward them with good praises and tangible rewards for every positive action and explain to them the consequences if they don’t finish their tasks.
4. The attention span of the children
Some children thrive in distance learning but some don’t. Every kid is different – so should your approach.
According to child psychologists, Charles E. Schaefer, Howard L. Millman:
“Kids can focus on a task for two to five minutes per year of life (for example, 16-40 minutes for an eight-year-old). Younger kids need shorter instructions and work periods.”
You need to have short mini-breaks for them to be attentive. Use the 80/20 rule or the Pomodoro technique when studying.
General tips for parents:
- Keep all documents in one folder or one folder per child. Use a cabinet if it’s a lot. Keeping an organized filing cabinet will make school much easier for you. If you need to get something, you save time by not needing to scramble through and find it on the folders one by one.
- Stay calm and be level-headed as possible.
- Schedule a daily walk for some exercise both for you and the children. Play ball, ride a bike, or just simply walking and looking at trees will do.
- Take it day by day and focus on the present moment. This is to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
- A daily meditation practice would also be beneficial for your mental health, as well for the mental health of your children. It may be boring at first but you can try to find kid’s meditation on apps even on YouTube.
- Teach your children about resilience and remind them that this is only temporary.
- Give yourself a break. A smoothie or an occasional glass of wine at night won’t hurt to relax your nerves.
- Reach out to your children’s teacher for better communication. Thank them, offer support, and ask how you could work together for your children.
Allow you and your kids to have your own designated downtime.