Remote learning isn't exactly new. Now that we're in the third national lockdown, most parents and children know the drill. Online lessons, handy resources, and a whole load of time spent at the kitchen table. But that doesn't make it any easier.
If you're wondering how to support your child through this period, you've come to the right place. Here at POPSUGAR, we spoke to Rebecca Guy, a primary teacher in Sheffield, to get the inside scoop on how to offer help, battle distractions, and find resources online, all while staying (somewhat) sane.
1. Give some motivational support
Motivation is in short supply. If you're working from home, chances are you've experienced this first-hand. Finding the will to get up, get dressed and sit in the same room, staring at a computer for hours can be nigh impossible.
Now imagine you're doing all of the above, except you're a child who misses their friends and has even less understanding of the pandemic than you do. It's tough. That's why offering your child some motivational support could make a huge difference.
"Teachers are working really hard to make online learning as accessible independently as possible but the reality of this is easier said than done. When possible it's great when parents can help with keeping kids motivated, helping with tech issues," says Guy. "When I'm remote teaching I'm there for instant feedback, conversations etc., so I just hope that parents can, wherever possible, just be there to give that first hand motivational support that I so miss doing in the classroom."
2. Don't get hung up on technical issues
Computers break. Smartphones break. The internet stops working without rhyme or reason. It's Murphy's law that technical issues will strike when you're already having the worst possible day. Don't panic. That little 'error' sign is not the end of the world.
"Wherever possible help them get set up but if you're struggling contact your class teacher or school. Schools have some devices available or physical work packs you can take home," says Guy. "Teachers are also more than happy to compromise on submissions. I've had work emailed to me, photos of it on paper, back of envelopes — you name it!"
3. Read to your children each day
Technology cannot entirely replicate the in-classroom learning experience. While the classes students receive will be the same, some fundamental parts of the day will be missing. Fortunately enough, that's where you can jump in, as a parent.
"I don't think this is much different to 'normal' school life," says Guy. "For me, my top priority is reading. Read to your children every day — even if for ten minutes. Reading is fundamental for all learning and it happens every day in the classroom and it's so important that this continues at home."
4. Be flexible with their schedule
Spoiler: your child is going to get distracted when remote learning. That is a fact. The modern world is rife with bright, colourful distractions just waiting to grab their attention. Get ahead of the game by planning around this issue.
"I think the reality is that attention spans are struggling and distractions are there, and at times needed, work with your child to figure out a timetable or routine that incorporates distraction breaks," says Guy. "Compromise. An hour of maths for half an hour of Fortnite."
5. Speak up if you're struggling
Working from home and overseeing your child's online learning? It's far from easy. Luckily, teachers understand that we are all simply doing our best. If you're having a tough time helping your child with their workload, don't be afraid to reach out and say something.
"All I ever ask my class is to do their best and this can vary dramatically from day to day. Some days this will be piles of great quality work, others it will just be logging on and attempting a few activities," says Guy. "If parents are really struggling, speak to your child's teacher — we're human and understand. Many teachers will be having the exact same experience with their own children."
6. Use free online resources
Looking for some extra support? If you want to help our child learn outside of school hours, getting started doesn't have to be hard. There are a plethora of sites online that can help your child learn new things or even support their mental wellness.
"There are so many amazing resources available now thanks to these bonkers years," says Guy. "BBC Bitesize and Oak Academy have tons of live lessons and online learning available. Mental health charities, such as Mind, have great resources to help with the emotional side of online learning." For even more support, we've also rounded up a list of 30+ free online educational resources here.
7. Don't put too much pressure on your kids
Lockdowns are not normal, and we shouldn't pretend otherwise. While you want your child to excel, understand that this period will be harder than usual. All you can do is try to support them as much as possible and encourage their learning.
"Be realistic with expectations," says Guy. "It is a completely different experience so we can't expect exactly the same results. The learning is available and I know at my school we are replicating exactly the same lessons online as we would in school. The elements that are missing are the social side, the collaborative side, and that face-to-face contact."
8. If your kid's teacher is doing well, say so!
If your child's teacher is doing a stellar job, don't keep that praise locked up inside your head. Teachers have not had it easy. They have had to completely change their working style, juggle the changes new guidelines have brought, and still put education first.
"As a teacher, I'd just like to add if your child's school or teacher is doing a good job, shout about it," says Guy. "Gavin Williamson asked parents to complain to Ofsted about school online learning provision and they were swamped with compliments. This means so much to school staff! Teachers are desperate to get back into the classroom properly and we're doing everything we can to make remote learning accessible and enjoyable for everyone."