Due to various social distancing measures enforced because of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across Ontario have been forced to move to an entirely new learning model – Distance Learning.
This abrupt change has put many parents through the wringer. Converting your home into a classroom can be quite challenging. Plus, the distance learning experience can vary significantly from school to school, which puts added stress.
Because this is a new concept for many parents, you’re probably wondering how you can make this transition easier for your kids.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of distance learning, discuss its biggest challenges and share some tips on how to help your child get the most out of remote learning.
What is distance learning?
Distance learning, also known as remote learning, learning from home or online learning, is a form of education where the kids are physically separated from their teachers and classmates. Students typically take classes at home via video conferencing over the internet using a laptop or tablet.
Students and teachers communicate through dedicated platforms such as Zoom, Google Classroom or Google Meets, they use file-sharing services for delivering assignments and set up Google Forms to grade tests.
The distance learning model has been on the rise even before the pandemic. Online classes have been available to students of all ages, from kindergarten and elementary school to high school and even college. However, since the start of the pandemic in 2020, this kind of learning model became the norm. Today, most schools adopted this system because of local and national COVID-19 prevention measures.
Distance learning in Ontario
Distance learning in Ontario works similarly to other global distance learning models, with a couple of distinctions. These differences stem from the need for different systems to abide by local remote learning rules and regulations.
Ontario’s educational system recognizes two main distance learning types:
- Synchronous learning –this represents learning that happens in real-time. Synchronous learning uses different tools that will make the student’s educational journey more comfortable. This includes texts, images, videos, and voice communication. It’s very engaging and reciprocal – the communication flows both ways.
- Asynchronous learning –on the other hand, asynchronous learning is not done in real-time. This type of education usually entails the use of pre-recorded materials, pre-assigned tasks, and online discussion boards.
During distance learning, schools in Ontario must provide parents and students with a daily schedule which should include:
- 300 minutes of learning opportunities
- A combination of synchronous and asynchronous materials and activities
- Must include opportunities for guided instruction, large and small-group learning, synchronous check-ins, and asynchronous independent assignments
Biggest challenges of distance learning for kids
Distance learning in early childhood is particularly difficult because we all know how kids get bored quickly. Another downside is repetitiveness – kids usually detest repetitive activities. These are some other challenges your kids might experience:
- Lack of socializing
- Lack of interaction
- Motivation and productivity
- Having a hard time adjusting to new tools and software
- Establishing and sticking to a daily routine
- Learning difficulties
How to make learning at home easier for your kids
At school, kids get into work mode easily because they associate their classroom with work. Until recently, their home was the place they used for relaxation, watching TV, playing video games, and having fun.
Now, when their “fun place” also becomes a “workplace,” things get trickier. However, with these six easy tips, you will be on the right track to increase your kids’ productivity.
1. Create a dedicated learning space
Make sure to create a dedicated workspace that your kids will use for schoolwork only. It should be well-equipped with stationery and back-to-school supplies so that your child doesn’t have to break focus when needing to replace a pen or find their sharpener.
It should resemble a school classroom as much as possible – add posters, a bit of colour and make it fun. Just be sure that it’s not too distracting, though
2. Assist your child with schoolwork
At school, your kids are surrounded by teachers who help them out with all unclarities. When learning from home, getting in touch with your teacher is more complicated and less personable. Ask your kids if they need help with homework or other schoolwork. You can also partner with the teacher to see what resources you can use and how you can help.
Show them quality resources which they can use to find answers or practice their skills while having fun.
3. Introduce physical activities
Physical activity can have an incredibly positive impact on young learners helping them increase alertness, improve attention as well as reduce stress and anxiety. Sometimes, moving and shaking your body a bit can make you feel less tired.
Children attending classes at home must endure hours of lessons every day, sitting in the same position in front of a screen most of the time. Exercise breaks will help your child feel refreshed and focus during the next class.
During breaks, encourage your child to go outside, run, play with a ball or dance around to the tune of their favourite song. Anything that will get their blood flowing.
4. Have realistic expectations
Remember that your kids are still adjusting to this learning model – don’t be too hard on them. Don’t expect them to figure it out on the first they because they can get discouraged.
Instead, take it one day at a time and ensure that your kid is not overly stressed because of this transition. Be encouraging and helpful.
5. Talk to their teacher
If you think that your kid is having trouble with e-learning, but they won’t admit it, schedule consultations with their teacher. Ask them how your kid is performing or whether they lack support in some areas. Then, adjust your kids’ learning environment and activities to support their needs.
6. Create routines but avoid repetitiveness
Establish simple routines and schedules for your child’s schoolwork when learning at home. Routines will help set expectations as well as help your child develop habits.
Plan out your child’s “school day” including things like when to wake up, when to engage with schoolwork, study, work on assignments, etc. But also, be sure to set some time to take breaks, go outside, watch TV, play games as well as connect with friends.
The issue with distance learning is that it can be quite repetitive. And , children may not enjoy doing the same thing all over again.
Make sure to switch it up from time to time – change up their workspace, organize backyard picnics or Zoom hangouts with their friends.
What to look for in a distance learning system
The transition to learning at home was not an easy one for many parents and students. Even though distance learning has some advantages when it comes to flexibility, not all schools have adapted to the new remote learning model quite so well.
A strong distance learning system must provide personalized education both in-class and remotely. Teachers need to engage and challenge each student individually with a high emphasis on wellbeing, both physical and mental. Young learners need to get opportunities to express themselves and interact with peers, the same way they would in class.
At Mississauga Christian Academy, we refer to distance learning as At-Home Learning. We offer a remote learning system that supports student engagement, inspires learning progress, and encourages an open communication flow between teachers, parents, and students. We combine synchronous and asynchronous remote learning models with regular personal check-ins to ensure that students’ goals and expectations are met at any given moment. We are also focused on building and fostering our community so that students don’t feel alone as they learn.
If you’re looking for a private kindergarten, elementary or middle school that provides a safe and productive distance learning environment, the Mississauga Christian Academy might be the perfect fit.
We’re currently accepting admissions for all our school programs – book a call with one of our educational advisors and find out what makes our learning model stand out.