All schools in Estonia use distant learning from March 16th. The schoolhouses and facilities are closed but teaching and learning continues. This means that parents have to pay more attention to the studies of the children and help and assist them in the process
Lea Mardik, Innove Rajaleidja Head for Pärnu-, Viljandi- and Raplamaa centres advises the parents how to support children during distant learning.
Distance learning differs by school and class.
Schools and teachers decide themselves how distance learning will be organised. To get to know how distance learning is organised in your child’s school or class, please follow carefully the notifications in digital platform used in your child’s school (e.g. Studium, eKool (E-School), school’s web-page and/or Facebook account) in the coming days.
There are different possibilities. For example, the study process could continue following the syllabus, but in a virtual classroom. This means that children stay at home, but participate in the lesson at an agreed time using video-call. The teacher may decide that studying takes place using video bridge, but in smaller groups or individually. The teacher may also decide that there will be no lessons and communication takes place using e-mails and Studium / eKool. The teacher will send materials to be studied and exercises to be solved and the student answers.
The teacher decides what topics are suitable for studies at home and which will be postponed. The teachergives instructions when and how the child has to be virtually present, where the child finds the exercises, how to use the relevant virtual environments, when and how should the results be presented to the teacher, how and in which form feed-back and assessment will be given etc.
It means that the schools and teachers have to work with different tasks and create a completely new teaching organisation. This takes time. Instead of sending questions to the teacher, please be patient if something does not run smoothly on the first days or if the school doesn`t give answers at once.
Children need more assistance from the parents during home learning.
The learning at home situation has many names – sometimes we call it long distance learning, home schooling, studies at home, e-schooling etc. These terms may vary to a small extent but in general mean the situation, where students perform all learning activities from distance and at least some part of the studies is done by using communication technology.
Make sure that both you and your child have an e-mail address and Studium or eKool account (or possibilities to use digital platform school uses). It is important for the child to be able to access the guidelines and exercises sent by the teacher.
If your child does not have the possibility to use digital devices at home, please notify the child’s class teacher. Together you can find the best possible solution to organise the study process. It is important that the child does not feel isolated if he cannot use all the digital solutions. The school might also lend the necessary devices to the family.
The aspects of the study organisation and tasks to be done should not be left only to the child, even if he is already sufficiently old to manage his studies independently in normal situation. The current situation is novel and full of stress also for children and they need more support than usually. The parent is the so called right hand man for the teacher , the parent helps to cope with the information and supports the student with adjusting to the new routine.
The parents and teachers should have a possibility to talk by phone or using Skype (or other communication tools) on a weekly basis at a fixed time. The teacher could give the parents additional guidelines while the parents could ask advice how to support the child in home learning.
Most likely the child needs advice and help from the parents while studying. If you can, please help. Discover for yourself the fun of learning with your child. It may occur that it`s a long time since you spent together such a great and meaningful time!
Children are superb teachers to each other. Encourage them to ask help from others and study together by using Skype or other video environment suitable for children.
Individual learning might be difficult for children with learning disabilities. In such cases school, teachers and parents must be compassionate. The child must be assisted as much as possible and acknowledged for his efforts.
There is nothing wrong if some of the tasks will not be completed and not all topics tackled systematically. Getting accustomed to the new situation takes time, please acknowledge it and explain it also to the child. Positive attitude towards distant learning is important – all goes well and we get several new skills through this experience.
The child needs help also while planning his free time.
The typical daily schedule of a child is full of routine – at school in the morning to study, rest and eating at fixed times, then hobbies, playing with friends etc. The children should spend the coming weeks at home together with their family. In this situation also a daily routine should be established that enables learning, playing and rest.
The schedule should be drafted together with the child. You should also agree how you shall monitor that the plan is followed. For example, if the parent is not at home, he will call the child when the next phase in the schedule is ought to begin. The parent will ask how the last task went and reminds that a new one is about to begin. You might also develop a motivation system together with the child and make following the daily schedule more playful.
There is a danger that children will spend the long days at home with surfing in Internet, playing video games and watching films. The child must be helped to find activities to fill the day more meaningfully and respective agreements with the children made. Here are some tips:
- Include into the daily schedule when and for how long the child is allowed to spend free screen-time
- Recommend training videos, video lectures, brain-stimulating games and other educational materials in Internet
- Involve children into home shores such as tidying rooms and food making, when you are at home
- Find an age-appropriate and suitable book for the child and agree with him, how many pages he will read daily. Show interest to the progress of the child at the evening and read a chapter together.
- We cannot recommend visiting public places, but find the possibilities to spend time in open air – take a stroll at the seaside, forest or in the nature
- Discover the long-forgotten board-games from the cupboards and spend time with the family.
Children in all ages need the love and attention of their parents – also the teenagers who do not always ask it for themselves. Please do not forget to listen to your children, speak kindly and calm them down.