Educators offer tips for teaching kids at home

boys doing homework at tableTo help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and encourage social distancing, Colorado public and private schools have been closed since March 23, along with many schools around the country. While schools are closed, PreK-12 students are engaging in remote learning with parents and caregivers serving as at-home teaching partners.

For many, this first-time teaching experience has been overwhelming. We asked Center for Educator Preparation faculty for tips to help make remote learning a little easier.

Tips for teaching at home

Talk about change

This is a new situation, one that you and your kids have not been in before. Make sure to talk about how things have changed and will continue to change. Managing a new reality is difficult; it will take time for both you and your child to adjust. If you’re anxious, they probably are too – and that’s okay.

Manage expectations

As you and your family adjust to a new workload and schedule, it’s important to plan day-to-day activities. Start planning two-to-three hours a day to settle into a routine.

Set a schedule

Along with managing expectations, it’s important to set a schedule that includes breaks. This is true for both you and your child. If you’d like, you can work with the same schedule as your child. While they work, you work. When they take a break, you join them. If that doesn’t work, it’s okay to just check in and ensure your child is being productive.

Create a physical learning/working environment

Establishing a space for everyone in the house to work allows a place for each person to settle down and get to work. Try to keep your kids from working on their beds or on the couch. It helps if they sit at a table or a desk so they don’t associate a space for relaxation as a space for work.

Emphasize learning

As everyone battles changes in productivity and understanding, it’s important to emphasize learning above workload. Make sure your child is engaged with their classwork and not overwhelmed by the work.

Manage online work

Switching from in-class to online work can be difficult. Online classes are subject to new kinds of distraction and procrastination. It may be important to discuss changes in screen time, and to make sure both you and your child take breaks away from a screen.

Make time for breaks

Speaking of breaks, they’re an essential aspect of productivity. Planning breaks into a schedule can help with focus, as well as managing anxiety about what is going on in the world. Use this time to hang out as a family, go for a walk, play board games, or try something new.

Follow the school’s plans

If your child has specific education plans during the day, check in with them to ensure that they are doing okay. It may help to become familiar with common online school resources like Google Classroom or Zoom.

Check your attitude

This one can be difficult. Your attitude can determine how your child will respond to and engage in a situation. If you try your best to create a schedule that works for you and your family while keeping a positive outlook, it can do wonders. Try to think of the experience as learning and doing something fun together.

Be flexible

It’s easy to get stressed as expectations change. Try to create an environment that is open to flexibility. If something goes wrong, it’s not the end of the world. Talk through scenarios and welcome adjustments.

More resources

As school closures continue through the end of April, remote learning will be the new normal for all of us. Fortunately, teachers are working hard to help ease the burden on parents and caregivers through creative collaboration.

For more resources, feel free to visit these links:

Thanks to the following Center for Educator Preparation faculty members who contributed to this piece:

Michelle Bigler

Michelle Bigler is a CSU doctoral student in the School of Education’s Education, Equity and Transformation program. During her 27 years in K-12 education, she was an elementary school principal, taught math and technology, and technology integration professional development. She has been an instructor in the CEP teacher licensure program since 2010, and currently teaches EDUC 331 Educational Technology and Assessment.

Joy Decker

Joy Decker has been teaching for 17 years – seven years in elementary schools and 10 years in secondary schools. Currently, she teaches 6th grade English and is the English department leader for Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado. A CEP instructor, she teaches EDUC 340 Literacy and the Learner to undergraduate teacher licensure students and EDUC 619 Curriculum Development to graduate students. She has two children in Poudre School District, 6th grade and 1st grade.

Tami Wolff

The creator of School at Home, a Facebook page that helps parents and caregivers navigate at-home teaching, Tami Wolff is a seasoned teacher of 19 years. While she has taught all grades and subjects – and has even been an elementary school assistant principal – she specializes in middle school English Language Arts. She currently teaches 8th grade English at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado, and co-founded the school’s musical theater program. She holds two master’s degrees from CSU – Master of English Education and Master of Educational Leadership – and currently teaches EDUC 350 Instruction I-Individualization/Management for the CEP program. She and her husband, who is also an educator, have twins who are in 7th grade.

The Center for Educator Preparation is housed in the School of Education, part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.