A Guide for Parents on Distance Learning During COVID-19 Shutdowns – RED

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August 5, 2020

By Kathleen St. John

The continuing COVID-19 pandemic has forced Colorado’s largest school districts to institute fully distance learning for at least the first few months of the school year.

The cancellation of in-person learning in Denver, Jeffco, Aurora and Boulder school districts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus has left tens of thousands of Front Range parents in awe of how schooling will work.

To successfully navigate distance learning, “parents will need to be as positive as possible about learning, schools, teachers and everything we go through,” said Elizabeth Hinde, Ph.D. , Dean of Metropolitan State University of Denver. School of education. “It means taking care of the mental health (of students and parents), so that when students return to school, the transition is not traumatic. One day they will physically go back to school and we want them to be ready to learn.


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As families adjust to a new normal, there are ways to create a comfortable routine for everyone, said Krista Griffin Ed.D., associate professor in the Department of Elementary Education and Literacy at MSU. Denver. Here are her best practices for home school life.

Create a space

Having a designated study area is key, Griffin said. “Definitely don’t let them sit on their beds in their bedrooms,” she added. And involve the children in the process.

“Having (kids) help design the space and personalize it a bit would give them ownership,” Griffin said.


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Start the day together

Discussing the expectations for the day’s job can keep everyone on track, so Griffin suggests a “morning meeting.”

“Consider together what everyone will do and what support might be needed,” she said. “Adults can say, ‘I have an important meeting online at 10:00 am and I need to make sure I am not distracted. An older sibling might say, “I have an exam this afternoon, so I need to have a nice breakfast and take breaks to study.” “

Critically, this tactic can also make young students think about what help they’ll need throughout the day, Griffin added.

Avoid power struggles

The best way to crush a ruinous day “But I don’t want to!” The tantrum is about defining the consequences ahead of time, Griffin said.

Make a daily to-do list that needs to be completed before screen time, or any other fun activity your child enjoys, she said.

“If they refuse the job, there is no fight, but they won’t be able to do the things they want after the school day is over,” she said.


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Understanding attention span

Divide elementary schoolwork into 30- to 45-minute sessions punctuated with short breaks, Griffin said. And don’t forget: older students also need to regroup.

“Research shows that multiple breaks are needed for all students,” Griffin said. “So if you catch your teenager taking a nap, take it easy.”

Be available, but don’t hover

Parents shouldn’t expect complete independence for young students during the school day, Griffin said. Instead, it’s best to just make sure your student understands how to complete their assignment and to be available to answer questions as much as possible.

It’s also a good idea to follow older kids throughout the day, she said. This is where this morning meeting comes in handy – try a noon progress check with the gang to discuss what remains to be done and any help that might be needed, she added.


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Free time is sacred

Even though the lines between work and play are blurred with learning at home, it’s still important for kids to stay away from schoolwork altogether, Griffin said. Don’t put too much pressure on enrichment outside of school hours.

“Make sure they have plenty of time outdoors and play. And there are many ways to make learning fun, but I would only do that based on the interests of the children, and only if they are. they want it, ”she said.

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