For many schools nationwide, virtual education has allowed learning to continue amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But for some students and parents, remote learning adds an extra layer of difficulty.
(TNS) — Learning looks different in 2020.
For many schools throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the country, virtual education has allowed learning to continue amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But for some students and parents, remote learning adds an extra layer of difficulty.
Educators statewide gathered virtually last week to discuss tips for parents and children who are struggling to keep pace in this new world of virtual learning.
It begins with positive parent involvement, according to
"Positive parent involvement is the most positive predictor of success," Seely said.
As a parent, positive involvement includes open communication with students and educators about educational planning, assignments and how students are doing overall.
It's about a partnership between parents, students and teachers.
"As educators, we're big believers that we want to work together toward the best outcome for students," said
For parents working from home, Seely said it's essential for parents to model the same behavior they wish to see in their children, such as staying focused and organized while remaining positive and supportive.
"We need to be realistic with our goals we set in our workspace," Seely said. "Things are going to happen that disrupt what you're doing. We have to be flexible. Model the skills you want to see in your children. That modeling is critical."
Educators say modeling includes creating a schedule and sticking with it. But each schedule will look differently depending on a student's situation.
Finley said it's about learning together as students, parents and educators.
"We don't need to be perfect," Finley said. "We just need to iterate."
She believes modeling behavior is essential as a parent.
"Students seeing us do that as adults is really important," she said. "Having a schedule that works. Every family and every child is going to be different, but being deliberate about that, having an actual plan and having spaces for everybody. For all children, but for our younger learners, strategizing with what they are going to do if they hit a snag when you're working."
For instance, if a student struggles with a math problem while their parent is on a conference call at home, Finley recommends having a structured plan so the child does not get frustrated by their homework and the parent is able to get their work done peacefully.
But for many students, home life may not foster an ideal virtual learning setting.
Some parents and guardians can provide a makeshift classroom setting at home. Others aren't afforded that space.
"We have to be conscious of that," said
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many social issues to the forefront, including technology inequity.
According to a study by Microsoft in 2018, about half of Americans, 163 million people, do not have high-speed internet at home.
To combat the technology gap, on
"We need to fill the digital gap. We need to make sure everyone is digitally connected," said
For children who are new to cyberlearning, some may feel a sense of isolation from a lack of social interaction that is more readily available at brick-and-mortar schools.
But Hayden said school isn't synonymous with socialization.
"Schools are not
Socializing must be purposeful, Hayden said.
"Last year we had almost 700 activities scheduled both in-person and online," Hayden said. "When the state closed the schools down in March, we were able to switch almost all of those activities online. It's not weird for students to do things on a screen."
As technology advances, it is becoming more aligned with day-to-day activities at work and in education. Most school-aged children were born into a life bustling with technology, from smartphones to high-speed internet to social media.
"Kids are digital natives," Kurlander said. "They learn differently. They are naturally curious. They're the most creative generation ever. Empower and harness that."
Some parents fear their children may fall behind after the break in the school year last spring, or that cyber education is doing their students a disservice.
"There is going to be a whole conversation about kids falling behind," Kurlander said. "But there is no 'behind' because the future is going to be so different. It's the future they need to prepare for."
The educational disruption caused by the pandemic may not be a bad thing, Finley said, for both students and educators.
"The power of the disruption of having to do things differently does have some really good positives for teachers," Finley said. "We have had to reinvent everything we've been doing. All those muscles as educators we need to keep growing is being really accelerated. It's really good for us."
While Hayden noted that cyber education is not for everybody, he said it can be beneficial to many.
For parents worried about their students receiving appropriate support while learning remotely, Hayden said it goes back to having open communication between students, teachers and parents.
As remote learning continues, Hayden recommends parents talk with their children about their school day, homework and other assignments just as if they got off the bus every day.
"We have a lot of built-in supports," Hayden said. "All assignments and assessments and grades are available all the time to parents. The family members and parents have to use those tools and resources. I don't think this is any different than a student coming home from a brick-and-mortar school.
"Are they frustrated? What did they learn today? Sit down with them at the end of the school day and go through what happened in each subject," Hayden said. "Technology provides information we may not have had years ago, but it's also about that personal interaction and talking to your kids."
(c)2020 the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.