Ways to Manage Distance Learning

Most parents are now very familiar with distance learning because with the current lockdown the Government announced that primary, secondary and further education establishments (e.g. schools, colleges, universities) should deliver remote or distance learning "for the majority of their pupils and students to help stop the spread of the virus" (Gov.uk, 2021). Only a few pupils and students are actually exempt from remote learning (e.g. if they are classified as vulnerable or parents are key workers).

Yet it has been a dramatic change and a steep learning curve for parents, teachers, schools and even private tuition businesses offering before just home tuition. All of us seem to be turning to remote learning as the solution to education during the pandemic. E-learning (also known as online learning) has been around for a while. It is designed to learn simply digitally, through technology whilst remote learning is temporary on-line learning.

Below are some ways to manage distance learning better to ensure your child's needs and expectations are being met effectively.

1. Know what is expected

Government guidelines are extremely clear on how much remote learning education a child is expected to receive at a minimum:

  • 3 hours a day for Key Stage 1 (years 1 and 2 - children aged 5-7)

  • 4 hours a day for Key Stage 2 (years 3-6 - children aged 7-11)

  • 5 hours a day for Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 (secondary school young people up to age 16)

By remote learning this can include recorded or live (direct) teaching.

(Gov.uk, 2021)

2. Ensure your child has access to technology

With remote learning comes the need for technology. It is almost expected these days that a child has their own laptop and internet access. With the pandemic parents need access to computers for work and with schools turning to distance learning children need technology for school. As Sarah Horrocks points out the Covid-19 situation has exacerbated the digital divide.

"In the UK, an estimated one million children and their families still do not have adequate access to a device or connectivity at home. 11% of young people accessing the internet at home cannot do so with a computer on a broadband connection. A further 6% connect to the internet via dial-up modems - a technology which is now two decades old - and 12% of young people cannot use these devices at home at all." (Horrocks, date unknown)

The Government has a scheme in place for families struggling financially to provide a computer and internet access to their child for learning. Contact your school for more information and check out my blog post on Covid-19 and Fighting Back.

However, as Horrocks points out part of the problem is parents not understanding technology and how to use, install or operate it. James Littlefield at ThoughtCo haas outlined some free computer classes online at entry-level and intermediate level to boost basic tech knowledge (Littlefield, 2020).

3. Ensure your child is safe

This links into understanding technology. When it comes to distance learning children are vulnerable to all the risks that come with e-safety. Children are using technology not only for school but to make friends, keep in touch, play games, video and photo share and have fun. They are at risk of radicalisation, companies collecting information on what they are doing, cyberbullying, spending money online, giving out personal details to inappropriate people, viewing inappropriate content (e.g. on self-harming), pornography, gambling, sexting, online sexual harassment etc. It is important that parents know and understand how to keep their child safe online. The NSPCC has advice and links to understanding online safety further.

4. The Learning Environment

Teachers usually spend a long time thinking about their classroom learning environment and setting it up during the holidays before students come into school. The learning environment can aid your child's learning and development. "Simply put, students learn better when they view the learning environment as positive and supportive (Dorman, Aldridge & Fraser, 2006)" (Young, date unknown) So if teachers would think about the learning environment in school, shouldn't parents consider their child's learning environment also? Melanie Pinola has some tips for getting your home into classroom shape (Pinola, 2020).

It is also worth noting that learning at home does not necessarily start and stop with the online academic classroom. The Scottish Government outlines this in their article on the Home Learning Environment (Gov.scot, 2021)

5. Tutoring

The BBC wrote an article about "how Covid-19 is changing the world's children" (BBC, 2020). In the article, Dave Marcotte pointed out that with school closures there are concerns that children and young people will regress, that there could be effects on future adult IQ and a lost generation of children.

However, tutoring may be the answer. The Government is rolling out The National Tutoring Programme as a Catchup scheme and more and more parents are turning to private tutoring.

RK Tutors can help support your child's academic needs and help manage your child's learning remotely. For more information contact Rebecca at www.rktutors.com

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