Posted by ICON School on Apr 14, 2020 4:35:32 PM

student in face mask at laptop

Across the country, students of all ages are attending school online for the first time. COVID-19 has closed school districts for the foreseeable future, and teachers and students are acclimating to their new world of virtual learning. 

For instructors, students, and parents, this has presented many different obstacles. And, while every state, school district, and grade level will be dramatically different, there are some different tips and resources that can help you navigate this new world of virtual classrooms.

Addressing Common Online Learning Issues 

Your student might be experiencing a lot of difficulties, and not all of them can be solved immediately. After all, the transition from in-person to online takes time. And, times are hard and uncertain for everyone. With all that in mind, here's a look at some of the most common issues and some ideas to help. 

Distractions

Kids are easily distracted, and home offers even more opportunities to lose focus. Minimizing distractions is key, but how do you go about doing that? Here are a few ideas:

  • Make learning time a phone-free zone. Have students leave their phone in the other room and allow for breaks to let them check what's going on. 
  • Create a dedicated space for school work. Keep that area free from distractions like TV's, pets, siblings, and conversations. 
  • Ease expectations. Even when you and your child have the best of intentions, it's still so easy to lose focus. Be gentle with them and with you, and help them learn how to shift back on-task when something happens. 
  • Stick with routine. Many schools are keeping structured learning times, but some are not. Either way, having a routine -- when learning happens, break times, lunch, etc. -- can make it easier to transition into and out of the school day and keep distractions at bay. 

Learn four more tips to help students stay focused during online school here

New Learning Style

Online learning demands a very different approach than in-person classrooms. For many students, the shift from collaborative learning, lectures, and in-class projects to asynchronous discussions and solo coursework can be a bit overwhelming. 

It will take some time to adapt to the changes, but students can look for ways to integrate their usual ways of learning into their new experiences. For example, students might find it easier to understand new material by talking about it with you. Or, they might seek out supplemental materials (from their teacher or online -- check with the teacher if you go that route!) that translate information into a different medium. Chat with peers, if possible, and ask the teacher for more direction if you're struggling.

Structure

Recreating some sense of structure is key to online learning success. This might mean: 

  • Getting up at the same time each day
  • Establishing working hours
  • Following a routine, like getting dressed, eating breakfast, and using social media for a few minutes on the couch before moving into your dedicated learning space
  • Scheduling in breaks, lunch, and end times 

It's easy to think that you'll just start working whenever you get up and assume you can manage without a schedule. Unfortunately, you'll quickly learn that it's often impossible to work and learn without structure. 

Questions About Material

It can be tough to learn new things when your teacher isn't present to answer your questions. When you encounter something that you need guidance on, make a note about it. The teacher likely shared times that they are available or has given out an email address. It's important to keep communication open with your instructor -- they are there to help!

Making the Best of It

It is so important to remember that these are unprecedented times. Everyone is figuring out how to do things differently and move work, school, and social lives nearly 100% online. These are stressful times, too, so it's important to remember that it's hard on everyone. There will be mistakes and struggles and an adjustment period. 

Here are some additional tips to help you and your family make things a little easier on yourselves:

  • Learn as much as you can about how your school and/or district is approaching this time. Many schools are loosening requirements and offering simplified learning plans. Understanding exactly what the expectations are and what the rest of the year will look like can reduce stress and give you clarity. 
  • Keep up with communication from teachers and the school. There is lots of information being sent to parents and students, and many of those emails contain important information that will likely answer questions you might have. 
  • Have fun and keep things lighthearted as much as possible. It can be helpful to keep up with regular routines beyond learning -- like family dinners where everyone talks about their day. 
  • Know that it's okay to be anxious, and be gentle with yourself and your family. 

Need to catch up on classes over the summer? ICON is offering online summer school!

Planning Ahead

While most states are still experiencing uncertainty about when things will begin to go back to normal and when (or even if) school will reopen this academic year, making plans for your student's learning can be helpful. 

For those harder courses, or classes where students learn things that they'll need for the next year's classes (like math or foreign languages), you may need to do some additional work to help stay on track. Summer school might be a necessity for some; for others, completing additional coursework through the summer might be helpful. This may mean using a free or open source learning platform (like Duolingo or Coursera) or simply working on supplemental materials from your school. 

Some students may find that they actually prefer online learning! In that case, you may be interested in finding out more about online school options. In Idaho, ICON offers free public online school. It's easy to enroll, and we offer a free laptop to enrolled students. Find out more about ICON here or get in touch and we can answer any questions. 

Additional Resources for Learning During COVID & Beyond:

Caring for Children During the Coronavirus from the CDC 

COVID-19 Resources from the Department of Education

Idaho High School Graduation Requirements

Parenting Tips for Summer School Success

ICON School

Written by ICON School

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