7 tips to get ready for school at home

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Jul 13 2020 08:42 AM

MANILA -- Parents, in this new normal of remote learning, are you ready to go back to school with your kids?

After weeks of consulting family, friends and her co-parents, Rona finally decided to re-enroll her 3 children in grades 8, 10 and 12 in their private school for academic year 2020 to 2021.

It was not an easy decision to make because while it would be the same school, nothing felt the same for Rona and her family. She candidly shared that only the tuition fee stayed the same when they started discussions with the school on how learning will happen for the coming school year (thanks to the active campaigning of parents, they were eventually granted a 20 percent tuition fee discount). 

The venue will change and the method of instruction too. Parents and students will have to invest in hardware and software and strong internet connection at home to ensure remote classes can go on smoothly. Plus, the class hours also appeared to be cut by half, as the school is also monitoring students’ screen time and too much use of gadgets.

She is still not 100 percent confident about her decision to re-enroll but Rona felt her hands were tied. “Our school bond will be forfeited if we don’t enroll this year. And if my children homeschool or take a gap year and then we re-enroll the following year when the pandemic hopefully is over, we will have to pay another school bond. With 3 students in our family, that’s quite steep.”

Rona is not alone and many parents in the same boat that have done their homework quickly realized that over 23,000 private schools in the country that will remain open will be adopting remote learning when classes open in August. They will have to be ready to turn their homes into conducive learning environments. The more children you have, the trickier it will be.

The Department of Education (DepEd) reported 27 million students were registered from preschool to senior high school last year, and 15 percent or 4.3 million were enrolled in private schools. While the public schools will all largely follow the dictates of DepEd, the private schools have creative room in rolling out their own brand of education in this pandemic era.

With the high cost of tuition in private schools, and now the increasing sentiment among parents that they won’t get what they paid for, how can you make schooling at home a success? The road ahead won’t be easy but for the sake of your children, here are some suggestions to make the watershed year a good one.

#1 Create a learning space.

Regardless of their age, the kids need to have an assigned learning space for the coming school year. Their school books, their desktop or laptop, their notebooks and pens, all need a place to park. By having this space, you can discipline them to behave differently when in this zone. If you have more than one child, if your living space allows it, they should have individual learning spaces. Some families decide to assign one room for all children and that can work too with set rules that everyone will respect.

#2 Test for stable internet connection.

In choosing the learning space, make sure to check if the internet is stable. If you have a broadband connection, you will discover that Wi Fi signal is not equally strong across your house. There are always some blank spots and you should avoid them so your kids can listen to the lectures and engage with their teachers smoothly. Signal is usually best closest to the router, unless you have a Mesh network set up in your home.

#3 Silence is golden.

While every child learns differently, a noise-free environment is always a plus. This is why the dining room is not a good learning space. With its large table and many chairs, most parents with several kids are considering to designate it as the family study area. But they will likely get disrupted during meal preparations, mealtime and meal clean up. That’s a lot of distractions that cannot possibly go together with learning Algebra or Chemistry.

#4 Invest in monitoring software.

Just because they are at home does not mean our kids are safe. Internet predators are everywhere now, and it is important to have a discussion with your kids about keeping their private information private and not to talk to “virtual” strangers. And so you can sleep better at night, I would recommend a monitoring software that can help you see how long they were online and the websites they visited. You can also screen what websites are age-appropriate, plus set what time Wi Fi signal use ends for them to ensure a restful night’s sleep. 

#5 Schedule time for learning.

Your school will impose class hours and you have to work around these and add study time. While learning will happen at home, do not let your children treat classes in a casual way. Wake them up at a set time, have them eat breakfast and then change out of their pajamas before sitting down to learn. This way they are “ready” for school physically and mentally.

#6 Stay connected with the school.

We will all be adjusting here so it is important that the school will feel your engagement. Ask your kids how they are adjusting. Are the teachers online when they said they would be? Are the lectures available or they are getting broken URLs? Check with other parents too how they are coping. Keep communication lines open so you and the school can be active partners in this age of remote learning.

#7 Be your child’s learning companion.
Gone are the days when you bring your child to school and you can fully delegate their learning to the school until the time they come home. Now they will be home all the time – and learning too – so you have to be their parent and teacher at the same time. Embrace this new normal and be their learning companion. If possible, sign up for an online course if you have never taken one so you can go through the same experience and can discuss with them what you liked and did not like. Make sure to welcome and treasure this opportunity to bond with your family while staying safe inside your home. 

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.