As an EdTech Coach for Douglas County schools, part of my role is to connect teachers together to learn from each other. There is great power in listening to another’s perspective and filtering it through your own lens, which is amplified more so in groups.
As such, these tips come from teachers and parents around the county when I asked them what would be helpful for parents to know in this article. Here is what I heard:
GraceLet’s start with the biggest one first. Everyone needs grace right now. Grace is when you forgive someone before they’ve even made a mistake. With the pace of change right now, everyone is learning (including teachers), and learning means mistakes. Understanding the inevitability of mistakes allows you to offer grace as they arise.
Just telling someone to be graceful, however, works about as well as telling someone to be hungry. Unless it is within yourself, you cannot do it.
So how to have grace within ourselves? Forgive!
Forgive yourself for every mistake you’ve ever made. At any given moment, each one of us is only doing our best. Yes, even when you made those mistakes you think you can never forgive; you were doing your best.
Grace for others starts with grace for yourself.
Presence & CommunicationThe most important thing children need is your presence, your love. Take the time to communicate with them — not at them — to understand their needs and what their teacher expects them to do.
Learn the online platform they’re using with them so you can model being a lifelong learner at the same time as preparing yourself to help with technical issues. The teacher will not be able to solve all of the technical issues, so the more you understand the better it is not just for your child, but all of the students in the class and the teacher as well.
Minimize DistractionsTeachers have seen all kinds of distractions already through video chats. Cats jumping on the computer, pet birds landing on students, siblings running around in the background.
As much as possible, try and mirror the home learning environment to what we know works in classrooms. Calm, little distractions, natural light, organized, learning tools nearby, etc.
BackpackIf your child must travel to different locations during the day, such as your work or a friend or relative’s house, then make sure they keep a backpack with their materials ready to go. Teachers are seeing students come online with only their computer available because they forgot their books or materials somewhere else.
While some teachers have all their content online, others are using a mixture of online and print, so having the materials is important for learning.
TimersChildren do not have as wide a perspective of time as adults. 30 minutes to a 7-year-old might as well be 30 hours. Use some kind of timer system so they understand what is expected of them and have something visual to help.
A simple kitchen timer can even do the trick, and when they get used to it, they will be able to set it themselves and manage their own time.
Parenting WorkshopIf you’re interested in discussing some of these tips deeper or want to go into more specifics with platforms like Zoom and Google Classroom, then check out Take Root’s parenting workshops at tinyurl.com/y9zk78bv.
I’ll be teaching a session on Nov. 4 specifically around educational technology, and there are many other valuable workshops being offered over the next few months, for free!