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Parents Share Their Hopes, Fears – And Tips! – For Online Learning During Crises

All New York City public schools officially closed their doors on Monday, March 16, with online classes scheduled to commence on Monday, March 23 and continue at least through April 20, which would have marked the end of the Passover/Easter holiday break. Private schools began suspending in-person classes the week of March 9 in advance of their Spring Break. Some have already notified parents that they will not return on March 30, as planned. They will heed the public school calendar, instead.

School Chancellor Richard Carranza wrote:

“I want to be clear that this is not a closure, but a transition. We will not lower our expectations for our students. We know they are hungry to learn, and we will match their curiosity and passion with work-from-home materials, including distribution of devices that will support our remote-learning instructional model.”

Some teachers have already begun sending out assignments and setting up virtual classrooms. As my high school sophomore exclaimed, “Oh, no, (Teacher Name Redacted) has learned to use the Internet!”

A steep learning curve and glitches are to be expected. (The other day, while signing into a Zoom book club the students arranged on their own, my son mistyped the access code and ended up in a completely different meeting!)

Parents are equal parts optimistic and skeptical. They wonder why emergency closure plans are being put together on the fly —Carranza admitted, “We’re flying the airplane as we’re building the airplane,” — instead of the Department of Education already having a vetted procedure in place. They wonder if there will still be state testing, especially as it pertains to middle and high school admissions for 2021, how students with special needs who require on-site therapies will be accommodated, and whether guardians who leave work to homeschool their children will be financially compensated.

We don’t yet have the answers to any of the above. But we did hear from parents about their hopes, their fears, and their tips for getting through these trying times.

Hopes:

This will all depend on how much interaction the online moderator (teacher) facilitates. Since many classroom teachers do not have experience with this medium, it might be tough at first. But a simple “turn and talk” might be possible if everyone is online, if not, the teacher can have students do scavenger hunts or web field trips and report back so that it is not a soap box….

I hope my 3 year old will get connections with her classmates and teachers- and maybe 20 min where I can send a couple of emails or make yet another home cooked meal….

In our schools it started yesterday. They were checking remote connection capabilities since last week. The best thing so far: kids managing their time well between learning and homework/assignments to be submitted. It’s working!….

My oldest is in private school and they’ve been doing online learning for 3 days. I don’t know how PS is going to do it, but for a self directed kid it’s not an issue. I feel science, social studies, and second language are lacking for now but I think those teachers are also getting their head around this (so very teacher specific) but math, ELA, etc are going great so far….

Fears:

I forgot where I saw this, but there have been studies on full-time on-line learning models. In sum, the conclusion stated kids need human interaction when learning. Kids were getting depressed, frustrated and not doing well. IMO I think some online tools work, but I am not sure if an online model will be more detrimental or beneficial….

My fear is that Google Classroom will continue in our public schools long after this crisis is over. Google has a terrible history of collecting and hoarding data while infringing on people’s privacy. I have nieces in the New Jersey public school system whose entire education has been lazily taught through Google Classroom….

It seems parents are going to be overwhelmed with so many online websites and subscriptions. I have received over 20 within the past few days. Since we are not educators, parents need assignments specific to our children’s grade and current performance level. That should come from their teachers who are familiar with the curriculum, standards, and know where the children stand academically.  For those students whose parents are not as involved, whether it be for personal reasons, work obligations, lack of education/ technology skills, etc…. where will that leave them? What does this mean for state testing and promotion standards? Next year, as my daughter and her peers prepare for the state test for the first time, will this come back to hurt them? So many worries, but I hope for the best. At least for the most part, the children, parents, and staff will have their health, which allows them to work on all of these issues. Our health is the most important thing….

Tips:

Not remotely concerned. If you’re worried, there’s a million ways to supplement. Kids don’t need to be in school to learn….

Have a list of times/materials needed/sign on info for each session for each kid. Also make sure your kids know that if the computer is open that they may be visible to others, so they should shut the computer when they’re not in class, and also tell the family if they’re online (close the door too) so people aren’t having private conversations with an audience. If you don’t have an at home printer, your kid sort of needs 2 screens….

My son takes online tutoring for a few months already, he really likes it and it makes him feel more independent. My son has ADHD and the most important thing for us…not to give him high sugar food before the class and use a heavyweight blanket to keep him from fidgeting.

Got your own hopes, fears and tips to share? Please tell us in the Comments below. We’re all in this together!

What do you think?

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