School closures and hybrid learning models have forced educators, parents and students to adapt to new forms of learning; the impact of this is not to be underestimated. Teachers and parents around the country have expressed concerns about the accessibility and quality of education under these conditions.
Fortunately, new tools and educational resources are being made accessible to help tackle these concerns. “Teacher of the Year” and author Michael Bonner is sharing resourceful ways for educators, students, families and communities to address some of the common challenges associated with distance- and hybrid-learning.
- Students: Create Personalized Workspaces: When students have a lack of comfort, stress has a way of compounding at an exponential level. To combat this, focus on the things that create a productive and inviting learning environment, like creating a workspace that is functional, fun and organized.
The good news is that it doesn’t require many materials to create a DIY desk and it’s a great activity to do together. Using science tri-folds and heavy-duty tape, parents and kids can create private cubicles that can be propped up on any surface and customized to their liking – be creative and look to bring things into the space that will keep your child energized and motivated.
- Parents: Increase Communication Touchpoints: With most schools operating through some variation of distance- or hybrid-learning, communication is a key asset for parents. Staying in regular contact with your child’s teacher can help you better understand and track how your child is performing and get ahead of any potential issues or concerns.
Parents should feel empowered to reach out to their child’s teacher for progress updates or to address any areas of confusion with class schedules or assignments. Something as simple as sending a bi-weekly email with questions could help improve the overall experience for you and your child.
- Teachers: Keep Kids Engaged: Teachers can break up the day by infusing different educational games and hands-on learning opportunities like 3M Science at Home. This online STEM video series is a great example of how students can tap into their curiosity about the world around them. By discussing observations and giving kids a chance to ask questions and come up with solutions, teachers and parents can foster a growth mindset while keeping kids engaged.
- Community: Working Together to Improve Educational Access and Equity: COVID-19 has forced organizations, businesses and education systems to configure new frameworks to continue functioning. Unfortunately, educators are facing a huge wall as roughly 15 percent of U.S. households with school-age children do not have the high-speed internet connection at home needed to complete their assignments, according to Pew Research Center data.
While options may vary based on a school district’s ability to provide resources, parents can reach out to their local community boards and school districts to see what options are available to them. Some schools are creating hotspots or are teaming with local libraries and community partners such as churches and businesses to extend their connections.
As we all adjust to new educational models, ensuring learning is engaging and fun doesn’t have to be challenging, it can start with just a few simple techniques. Whether you are modifying a space to be more inviting for learning or finding supplemental, interactive activities to break up the day, diversifying your approach will help students better retain information and grasp new concepts while having fun.