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A Parent’s Guide to Distance Learning

Wednesday, 22 July, 2020 - 1:24 pm

A Parent’s Guide to Distance Learning - Being prepared makes all the difference. - Dr. Bryn Harari

Distance learning can be challenging. Prepared parents can help students to achieve the best outcomes.

First, work with your child to create a daily schedule. Involving children in the decision-making process gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility.  Help them to balance physical, emotional, mental, intellectual, and spiritual wellness.

All students should have at least 30 minutes a day of rigorous exercise, and children younger than 10 should have 60 minutes a day of active activity. Plan on hourly exercise breaks of 5 to 7 minutes.

Incorporate emotional and mental exercise by talking about feelings, telling jokes, reminiscing, and discussing great times for after the pandemic. Plan for family time, one-on-one time, and alone time. Allow students to have meaningful social interaction with their friends. Take advantage of enrichment activities, such as art projects, provided by the school. 

Intellectual exercise includes both formal and informal learning. Consider these guidelines for learning time: 

Grades K-2: 15-20 minutes at a time of sustained focus/attention for a total of 3-4 hours per day.

Grades 3-5: 20-30 minutes at a time of sustained focus/attention for a total of 4-5 hours a day.  

Middle & High School: 45-60 minutes at a time of sustained focus/attention for a total of 5-6 hours a day (4-6 periods of continuous learning throughout the day).

Home and life skills promote cognitive development, reinforce academic skills, and cultivate a sense of competence, belonging, and purpose in the family.  Household chores and preparing the next day's activities are critical skills that promote independence, self-reliance, and self-confidence. Informal learning should be part of the daily schedule. Spiritual exercise is vital to the student’s daily routine as well.

Every student needs a spot to study effectively.  Most students require a quiet, calm space to achieve focus and sustained attention on their schoolwork. Buy a cardboard partition to create a cubicle that your child can personalize, and let your child decorate a shoebox to keep desktop materials. The study space should be well equipped with supplies your student needs regularly, and you should work with the student to keep it organized. 

Build time into your schedule to plan and reflect on accomplishments of Distance Learning.  Dinner, lunch, bath or bedtime are suitable for a short, reflective conversation to help children become more responsible for themselves. To stimulate critical thinking, ask reflective questions about what the students enjoyed, what they could have done better, how they can do it better tomorrow, and how you can help.

Find times to acknowledge successes and accomplishments.  Encouragement, rather than praise, promotes self-reliance and self-confidence.  

Inspire children with incentives, rather than rewards, to build their sense of control and personal responsibility, develop habits, and build character. Intrinsic motivation gets students to want to do something for its own sake.  Present a challenge within reach, promote autonomy, and evoke curiosity with activities that are new or different.

Celebrate successes and accomplishments, no matter how small. Use star or sticker charts, success journals, and spotlighting success at dinnertime to help students value their work and their effort.  

In Distance Learning, you can be the coach, rather than the teacher. Support, guide and encourage success, and let the teacher correct and redirect your student.

Children have different personalities, strengths, and learning styles.  Use what you know about them to help them succeed. Consider aspects of your student’s learning style and accommodate them in your daily routines and schedule. By understanding your child’s best learning environment, talents, interests, and learning modality, you can establish a successful learning day that flows comfortably.  

Award-winning Hebrew Academy will begin the 2020-2021 school year on Tuesday, August 25. Depending on state rulings, there will be in-person classes or a full-day rigorous academic program on-line.

Dr. Bryn Harari is a 30-year educator with advanced degrees in Education and Psychology.  She has worked in every level of education from preschool through post-graduate training programs.  She has brought educational reform to schools here and abroad through administrative leadership, training, and program design. Dr. Harari consults and coaches extensively in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

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