By Scott Lutostanski
Virtual learning is turning our world upside down. It is asking students to take an activity (school) that is normally done in 8 hours in a separate building and to now do it from home. The amount of time students devote to school each day is entirely situational, but it is most definitely not 8 hours. A more reasonable estimate is probably somewhere between 1 and 4 hours, with maybe a little homework, too.
One of the main challenges with virtual learning is that students need to get started. The isolation puts much more of an emphasis on individual work. It’s very similar to college in that way. The things that take place are 100% on the shoulders of the student: watching videos, reading a book, completing work. It can all be done at any time now. There is no bell that is going to ring to signify it’s time to start working. So what are some strategies that students can use to get started?
- Set a schedule- Every single day, the first step of the day should be to check all online platforms, create a list of things to do, and then set a schedule with days and times. This will be much more effective in the morning, so make sure you kids are getting up at a normal-ish time each day.
- Presence is Power- Being around other people can help. Do you have a stretch where you (the parent) need to work on a computer? Respond to emails? Set up shop in the same room as your student (perhaps at the dining room table) and work side by side in silence for a while. No need to talk to them, ask questions, or pry. It should be a silent work time.
- Encourage Study Groups- We are all having way more virtual interaction now than ever before. Urge your student to set up a virtual call with friends so they can do work together. This will help them break up the monotony of isolated work each day.
- Get a tutor or coach- Are they really struggling to keep up? You can always get them more help outside of school. This may not have been a consideration under “normal” school conditions, but now may be the time to ensure that effective learning continues.
- Plan small amounts of time- Does each day feel like a mountain of time and work for your student? Help them put together 10 minute plans. This will seem less daunting and make it easier to get started. Also, once they get going, they’ll probably keep going.
School most likely won’t be going back to normal for a while. Even the best of students can struggle during this time of at home learning and extreme independence. If your student needs help during this time, you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on coaching and tutoring.