View From Homeschool: Parents Share Distance Learning Experiences

View From Homeschool: Parents Share Distance Learning Experiences

As the coronavirus spreads, parents across Northeast Ohio continue to make adjustments as they take on the role of teaching their kids at home. Five moms share the ups and downs of quickly transitioning their kids from school to online learning at home.

DiAndra Liccardo

DiAndra Liccardo,
Twinsburg 

“When everything switched to online, it was challenging. My husband and I are not computer savvy. Google Classroom can be confusing. We had to play with the Chromebook to figure out how to access quizzes and assignments. Nylah, my third-grader, was scheduled to do a video chat using Google Meet with her teacher and classmates, but figuring out how to sign on was really frustrating. She felt really frustrated because she was supposed to see her teacher and all of her friends for the first time in a couple of weeks, but it didn’t work out. We faced the challenge of learning the technology, staying on top of school deadlines and my work responsibilities while at home. We also have a 5- and a 1-year-old. To make it work, we had to create a routine. Now we get up, have breakfast and get started with our work. My daughter is adjusting to doing the work at home. She is keeping up, paying attention to due dates and making sure the work gets done.”

Cassandra Jessie

Cassandra Jessie,
Warrensville Heights

“When we first moved to online learning, I didn’t go into panic mode. I was more worried about my kids staying safe. When they first transitioned to learning at home, I also had some concerns, such as if they were going to be stuck in their current grade. Initially, everything started out with school packets for the kids to complete. Then, later, the district gave the kids their Chromebooks to access all of the online work. At times, the students are scheduled to meet their teacher and classmates in a video session. For example, my kindergartner met with her class online to go over sight words and my son met with his music class to practice learning notes. I am computer savvy, but I never had to use the websites my children needed to access. My son, De’Lonte’, who is 9, uses them frequently. He is my assistant. He helps my 5-year-old daughter, Arielle, get logged in to her classroom. That has been my bonus — my son being used to the technology. He says, ‘I got it mom,’ and then takes care of whatever is needed.”

Amanda McBurney

Amanda McBurney,
Barberton 

“It was hard at first. My daughter Lilly, who is 6, didn’t quite understand why she wasn’t in school anymore. She didn’t understand why I was teaching her instead of her teacher. She struggles with giving the same attention to her studies at home that she gives at school; plus her 1-year-old sister always wants to play. Lilly likes the computer because it talks. If she doesn’t understand a word, the computer will just read it to her. She even gets to see her teacher and friends on video chats once a week. But it is still a challenge to get her to sit down in front of the computer for the time it takes to get the work done, so we take breaks and walk around the house. Overall, Lilly made the transition to online learning easy. When we moved from learning packets to the Chromebook, Lilly knew how to sign on. She knew the codes, her email address and password. When I was trying to figure it out, she said to me, ‘just let me show you.’“

Paula Kinney

Paula Kinney,
Solon

“My 14-year-old son, Carson, completes his work online using Google Classroom, but mostly Zoom calls. He has to be online at certain times. I haven’t had any concerns about managing this process. My son is doing really well with managing his own work, although I double check to ensure he’s not getting behind. His school offers a lot of support and is really reaching out to parents so that we don’t feel so disconnected. But, even still, attending school at home and online is a lot for the students and it is new for them. It is a totally new process for everybody, so I need to do my part to make sure my son is staying on top of his work; fortunately, he doesn’t seem to be stressed.” 

Tayler Thompson

Tayler Thompson,
Barberton 

“Our 13-year-old son, Andrew, is online but he prefers to print the worksheets to create a packet. For him, some of the work was hard to navigate on the computer; for example, he had to complete word searches he thought easier to complete on paper. Whether his work is at school or at home online, he knows he has to get it done, and he just gets up and does it. My 8-year-old daughter, Madelyn, also prints her assignments from the computer. We do this so that she can write out her responses, this way she can work on her handwriting. Madelyn is dyslexic and works on an IEP (individual education plan). The amount of work she gets is very heavy because the school wants to make sure she continues to learn at home. It is a lot and she needs a lot of assistance at her age. The challenge is that we have five kids in total, three younger than Madelyn and one of those three is a newborn. My husband and I both work. Under the circumstances, we are doing pretty good. Organizing ourselves and coming up with a schedule that really worked for us was key, but it still feels like it’s a little shaky as we are still getting in the groove of things.”

Parental Tips for Online Learning

With COVID-19 causing statewide school closures, educators are turning to online learning to remotely deliver instruction to students. Not only is this move a big adjustment for students, but also for parents. 

Jeanette Brossmann, communication studies department chair and professor at Lakeland Community College, acknowledges that initially, it can be difficult for parents to manage their children’s learning in a virtual classroom platform. 

“Some students are better equipped to be online learners; they tend to be much more independent learners and able to self-regulate,” Brossmann says. “Some students are not very good at it. And, for parents, it can be difficult if you are working and trying to monitor your child, or if you have more than one child and they’re all working with different online platforms.”

Brossmann, who teaches online classes and homeschooled four children along with her husband, Brent, offers some advice.

Take a deep breath. If you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious, take a normal breath and then a deep one. Navigating your child or children’s online learning is a lot to take on and, for some, can be a daunting task. Give yourself a break and realize that you can only do the best you can.

Have your children champion their own learning. This is a super frustrating time, but through it all, remember that your child is amazing and incredibly important to you. Through the online learning process, find ways to connect with your child and exercise patience. Help your children thrive through this experience while being the champions of their own learning. Encourage them to be creative and adapt to their current situation. Let them know that they are not alone and that we all have been thrown into this new normal.

Connect the learning to real world experiences. Right now, more than ever, parents are familiar with what kids are learning in the classroom. This provides parents a real opportunity to find ways to connect the lessons to experiences outside of the classroom. Be creative in making the learning fun and meaningful for the student.

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