The Four F's of Distance Learning: Family-Friendly
As teaching moves from the school environment into the home, parents and guardians are taking on the supervisory role normally held by teachers. In the last blog of our series on the Four F's of Distance Learning, we look at how we can make our distance learning family-friendly.
During COVID-19, many of us are likely to have experienced working from home. It’s a very different environment than the workplace, where we can interact with colleagues directly, make use of workplace facilities and have a clear distinction between work and personal life.
With the move to distance or hybrid learning, students are experiencing a similar change in environment. Group work, one-to-one support, and practical tasks all look very different when they move from a school setting into the home.
That’s why the final F of distance learning is family-friendly. With distance learning, you’re relying on families to provide the in-person support and encouragement that’s normally the role of a teacher.
Make a deliberate effort to keep open communication channels with parents and involve them in the work that students are doing. Allow them to ask questions, give feedback, and express concerns. As a teacher, you can offer them reassurance and guidance. Keep in mind also that adults might help younger students log onto the learning management system, so ensure anything you post is worded in a way that is appropriate and easily understood by all.
Once you’ve established clear communication with parents and guardians, you can start to get creative! Make the most of the opportunities that distance learning offers. Engage family members in projects or activities. This can be as simple as asking students to give a presentation of their work or to explain a concept to a family member.
With math or science lessons, there’s lots of ways to incorporate practical activities. You could have students cook with their family and double a recipe, and record themselves doing so. Or you could do a measurement activity where students measure the heights of everyone in the family and conduct data analysis, such as a box plot or histogram.
Invite parents to a family video conference where you talk to them directly about your distance learning objectives. Here you can discuss expectations, progress and answer any queries raised. Transparency and good communication will go a long way in alleviating the anxiety faced by parents, students and teachers in this uncertain time.
Allow for open channels of communication with parents and guardians. A family video conference can be a great tool for informing and involving parents. When posting to the learning management system, keep instructions clear and transparent. And finally, find creative ways to involve the family in learning activities - they’re part of the distance learning journey too!