#SponsoredPost It has been a challenging school year for both families and schools alike, as the second school closure of the year is now stretching into mid-April, and the concept of traditional in-class learning transformed into a completely virtual space. Many parents and schools might have felt daunted by this challenge. Stamford American School Hong Kong, who has always been at the forefront of innovation, especially in the area of STEM education, took this challenge as an opportunity to innovate further how technology can deliver high-quality teaching and learning under the guidance of experienced specialists. Some parents are finding it a chance to engage more in the curriculum. Here are some of the key insights from Stamford’s experience offering online learning over the past few weeks.
A consistent daily routine is beneficial for all members of the family, their health, and their well-being. During the school suspension, try to follow your child’s usual sleep and meal schedule as much as possible. Please encourage your children to get up, wash and dress at their ordinary time, so they are ready to start their day of learning. Many students have found it helpful to put on their school uniforms to create the right mindset. Maintaining established routines for sleep, meals, and hygiene will help children to feel secure and set expectations.
For schools like Stamford, the usual daily schedule still applies to online learning, which means students should have a very structured school day. Many parents find setting alarms for the next class session or break helpful and non-intrusive for teenagers, while for those with younger children, consider joining them at specialist classes such as PE or Drama. You will be amazed by how easy you can turn class time into a family fun time!
Create a Schedule as a Family
Many parents are balancing their work commitments alongside home-learning expectations for their children. The to-do-list can seem overwhelming, and it can be tempting to multitask to achieve more each day. While it looks like a good solution, switching between tasks lowers productivity and focus.
Create a family schedule to ensure everyone is aware of each other’s daily commitments, such as online meetings, lessons, and even household chores! A realistic daily plan can help you to stay organized and reduce stress and anxiety! Task your child to create a fun decorative schedule to be posted somewhere visible or put it in an online calendar.
Like any schedule, there will be hiccups, and so be kind to yourself and understand that not everything will run smoothly. It is good to spend time reviewing what went well each day and also plan how tomorrow can be even better, so mornings can run more smoothly.
Set Up Your Workspace
Space is always a challenge in Hong Kong, but do your best to create a dedicated workspace. To be in the right mindset for learning, students need a dedicated work area, away from the couch or bed. Make sure that the space has good lighting to avoid eye strain and be sure to clear the area of any clutter. In a productive workspace, students will have all their learning materials close by and be able to focus on the task at hand.
Take time to look at your child’s workspace with them, discuss potential distractions, and work together to make it more conducive to learning. Families with multiple siblings or parents working from home have found having workspaces dedicated to “quiet” time necessary, so families know when someone in the household needs to focus.
Quality Not Quantity
Elementary students learn best in short, focused sessions with varied tasks. While technology is currently the driving force for high-quality, interactive virtual learning at home, it is also essential to keep a balance between online and offline time.
Allow time for regular breaks to have a snack, move about, and listen to music. It is vital to ensure that children have the opportunity to get up and stretch regularly. Even if it’s just a ten-minute walk or some exercises in the house, students will feel revitalized and rejuvenated after some activity away from the desk.
Reward Your Child – and Yourself!
Find ways to keep your child motivated with their learning. Praise and encouragement, as well as small rewards, can be a powerful boost to a child’s self-esteem and encourage positive behaviors. Our Counselors suggest positive reinforcement as a tool to motivate your child.
Spending quality time together as a family is a great way to reduce stress, and you can use this time to have some fun making music, arts and even stage a skit! Whatever you do, be sure to also pat yourself on the back for doing your best to support your child.
Communicate Emotions & Stay Connected
Social connections are essential for good mental health and well-being. As parents, you should be available to listen to and speak with your children. Dinner table conversations are a great opportunity to check-in with your child, to hear about their day and discuss what they are learning.
At the same time, it is also essential to be open about your feelings and invite your children to share their frustrations as well. Showing your children that you share challenges but offer guidance with a positive growth mindset is an excellent opportunity for growth.
The reality is that schools are aware that you have commitments to your jobs and other children, and it is a new challenge to now help support online learning. Be kind to yourself as a parent, and don’t expect that everything will run smoothly. Don’t be afraid to let your child’s teacher know if the workload or technologies are a challenge for you and you need some clarification, they will be happy to help.
“The PE home videos are a hit! We follow the yoga poses at home as a family. I feel like I’ve gone back to school again these past weeks, learning something that we have been taught before but in a totally different way! Now I can probably relate to the kids better when they tell me about things they do in school and the apps they use… I am learning too!” – Fong E, mother of two Stamford children, Grade 8 and Grade 2.
“I applaud Stamford for stepping up so quickly to the challenge to provide kids with a quality online learning experience. Well done, everyone!” – Christina, mother of a Grade 5 student at Stamford who has been with Stamford since its opening.