May 3, 2020
When students are at school, they are in an environment that facilitates learning and growth. So when students learn from home, parents are tasked with creating a similar space. This helps ensure students can learn effectively.
There are five key elements of effective learning found in the classroom that can be replicated at home.
How Do School Environments Facilitate Student Learning?
Private-independent schools set themselves apart with five essential elements that help spur academic success: positivity, predictability, support, connectedness, and challenges.
Most interactions in the school environment are positive. Children should view school as fun; they should enjoy learning. Stress is an unavoidable element of working toward educational goals, but positive reinforcement reduces undue stress and motivates students to succeed.
ISM has long held that predictability is one of the most important elements that contribute to a successful learning environment. This is not the same as always scheduling math at 9:00 a.m. and gym at 1:00 p.m., nor is it the elimination of spontaneity. It is providing an environment where children are confident that they know what to expect from their teachers
Students know that parents, teachers, and counselors are there to support them and are ready to help. The ground rule is to offer only as much guidance as is necessary to make it possible for the child to understand and overcome a problem situation. The adults must resist the temptation to "fix" everything. What children need from adults is care and kindness, in addition to expertise and inspiration.
Students are more engaged and satisfied when their education compels them to reach new goals. Your academic programs must accommodate each child's individual ability and level of achievement.
The greatest benefit of the school community is the connectedness it provides. Connection between parents, teachers, and students promotes positivity and perseverance. It creates a network of support and reduces stress and anxiety. Maintaining this community "at a distance" is both challenging and invaluable.
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How Can Schools Help Parents Create Optimal Home Learning Environments?
The five elements listed above are absolutely necessary to create a productive learning environment. Your school administrators and teachers should work with parents to replicate the creative atmosphere that children need.
That said, no one was prepared for this drastic change to the education system. Many parents are wrestling with isolation, fear of the unknown, sadness, uncertainty, and more.
As you help parents create successful home learning environments, we have a few tactical recommendations you can share.
Show a United Front
Be sure your teachers know how to communicate with your school’s families. They should not share frustrations with parents, undermining your efforts to make parents comfortable with distance learning. Instead, focus on creating a unified front in the name of supporting your students.
Create a Safe Learning Space
An important step teachers can take is to help parents create a space for school in the home. Sharing the kitchen table or retreating to the bedroom does not set the child up for success. A dedicated area—perhaps a spare room or a repurposed alcove—can be devoted to learning. A home classroom should have a writing surface, a place to read, supplies for writing and art, and perhaps an extra table for projects.
Set Clear Expectations
Teachers should continually set clear expectations. As time goes on, ensure teachers specify the purpose and goals of every task, while allowing for flexibility in the execution.
Implement a Schedule
Having a schedule is vital to maintaining predictability. Developing a routine for school gives everyone a sense of normalcy. Parents and students should set a time to get up, get dressed, and get prepared for school, just as they would if they were going to campus.
We recommend teachers set a weekly class schedule and stick to it. It helps to have a homeroom meeting every morning to set the tone for the day. Students’ days should be well-balanced between learning, collaboration, and unstructured time to pursue their own interests. We also recommend leaving space each day for extra help, meetings with counselors, and one-on-ones.
Students can stay connected to each other by using online tools to collaborate on projects. This helps to make the experience fun.
One-on-one communication between parents and teachers must be maintained through personal emails and whenever possible, video conferences. Making time for community during the week, such as a virtual meeting or webinar, allows leaders. teachers, and families to come together and share thoughts.
Creating a safe home environment that facilitates learning is vital right now. Keep student well-being at the center of your decisions to help parents create spaces that improve student learning.
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