The covid-19 pandemic has caused changes in the way students attend school. Some students have face-to-face instruction in a brick-and-mortar building designated for learning. Other students, however, are using e-learning or virtual learning, according to Linda Inmon of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
“Get to know your child’s teacher or teachers,” said Inmon, a Cooperative Extension Program associate-family and consumer sciences at UAPB. “Communication is the key to having a successful school year.”
There is a difference between e-learning and virtual learning. E-learning is online instruction by a teacher in which students log on and complete the coursework at their own pace. Virtual learning involves students joining in live sessions with their teachers, with back-and-forth communication involving the teachers, students and their classmates, Inmon said in a news release.
Both e-learning and virtual learning present challenges for parents, Inmon said. Parents are faced with finding a designated area where learning takes place in the home as well as finding adult supervision for their children, especially if those parents are working. Parents are not only challenged with space and supervision but also with ensuring their children are engaged throughout the learning process.
Parents should have a designated space free from distraction where children can interact with the teacher and peers and complete assignments, she said. Well-planned schedules and routines will effectively manage time and help students stay on track. Parental involvement is important because parents must play a vital role in assisting the teacher to ensure the children’s success.
Inmon provides the following suggestions for preparing an environment for learning:
• Look around the living area and find a space that is not used often or during school hours, where the child’s materials can remain throughout the school week.
• Find comfortable seating and appropriate-height tables to place in the area. Tray tables work best when there is limited space, especially for younger children. Older children can use a folding table where the legs can be adjusted.
• Help the children keep their area clutter-free for fewer distractions. Use bins or covered cardboard boxes to store paperwork and supplies. The boxes that hold spiral notebooks at stores make great storage containers to hold papers.
• Small boxes or plastic cups are good for holding pencils, pens and crayons.
• Add a small desk lamp if more lighting is needed.
• If parents must work, then one suggestion is to find a trusted friend or relative who will allow the children to visit during school hours. It works best if that person has a child learning at home, too, she said. While one person supervises during the day, the other supervises in the evening to make sure homework is complete, dinner is prepared and the children are ready for the next day.
“During these times where health and safety are more heightened, it really does take a village to raise a child, to build a better community and hope for tomorrow,” Inmon said.