Distance learning tips for parents from Mr. Rick Lewis, Academic Dean, DP and Key Centre Coordinator of Schools Brookes Moscow & Saint Petersburg
By Beth Osowski, IWC Newsletter Editor.
On Wednesday, May 13, IWC members had the opportunity to attend an online program presented by Rick Lewis, Academic Dean, DP Coordinator and Key Centre Coordinator, of Brookes Moscow School. Brookes has had success with its distance learning in part because students and faculty already had technology in place that helped with the transition. Also, students followed the same time table as before, which was beneficial for them to maintain their normal routine.
Rick, as a teacher and a parent, noted that distance learning has more adjustments needed for younger students, who may need more help using the technology or whose attention spans may not be as long as that of older kids. Here is some advice for parents when it comes to distance learning.
IWC: How can I help m y kids focus on their schoolwork?
Rick Lewis (RL): Having a plan is the most important aspect of any type of learning. Make sure they have an area of the house that is for their distance learning: a good table, a good chair for sitting, outlets for their devices. Allow them to have some downtime between lessons (watch a program, read a non-school book, build with Legos, etc.). The school should help with this as well by giving structure to the day.
IWC: How can I encourage my kids?
RL: The same as you would if the school was in session, by any and all means. Ask to see their work, read comments given by teachers, and be a part of their everyday schooling. As a family, it’s important for you to have a plan, and let the kids know the plan for their learning. Then wake up and stick to the structured daily plan. For parents, there are books and articles available on distance learning that can help you out. You don’t have to be the teacher. You are the support. Reach out to your child’s teachers for advice and help.
IWC: I have three kids in different years at school. How can I help all three at once?
RL: Depending on the ages, this can be the trickiest part. Older students who can function on a device by themselves just need your support. Younger students who need you to get online with it can become harder. Set up a schedule that works for your family and do not try to do everything at once. Talk to your school and see if times can be adjusted to help with this.
IWC: What are the biggest challenges for teachers?
RL: Not having everyday interaction with students face to face, that is why we chose this profession. We miss your kids. This is brand new to teachers too, and no one became a teacher to do distance learning some day! Teachers miss their students and are concerned for them. And for teachers in an international school setting, it can be hard and perhaps lonely for some of them who can’t go home to their families in other countries.
IWC: Do you have advice for parents trying t o help their kids, and who find that schools teach some topics, such as math, differently than the way they learned it as kids?
RL: The best advice is to know what your child is learning. At Brookes, parents can see all instruction that is taking place and see the curriculum. Ask questions of the teachers about topics that may be different than when you learned and never be afraid to make a mistake.