How to Help Children Be Online Learners

Experts say to take advantage of technology, create learning spaces and lean on district resources during online learning.
​​​​With many school districts -- including Rockwood -- starting the 2020-2021 school year through online education, parents are looking for ways to assist their children in a new virtual learning environment.

The website STL Parent sought the advice of area experts​ -- including Rockwood Director of STEM and Digital Learning Brian Reed -- regarding helpful steps parents can take with students. Here is what they recommended:

  • Take advantage of the technology available: "Support your students in talking about their anxieties and apprehensions about school, especially in an online learning environment," Reed told STL Parent. "The social-emotional well-being of our students is an important component of their learning and also in how we manage the classroom and our relationships with them. If you happen to notice anything of which the teacher should be made aware, please express that to the teacher so that we can support you and the student and leverage other district resources if needed.”
  • Create the optimal space for learning: Reed suggested to STL Parent that establishing a distraction-free learning zone, separate from the family’s common living space that offers plenty of light, is free from excess noise, and is comfortable, “but not too comfortable.” Offering breaks between classes, he said, will also help students mentally and physically prepare for the next class. A quick run around the backyard, for instance, can help kids burn off that energy that’s building up while a little quiet time on the couch can bring down their anxiety after a stressful class.
  • Find the steps to success: Dr. Molly I. Beck, research associate and data fellow in the Saint Louis University PRiME Center​ outlined these steps for STL Parent -- spread learning out and allow for breaks as needed to refresh the mind; “interleave,” which can mean switching between ideas as you and your child work together, such as going from math to science and back to math; present concepts graphically if you can; use formative quizzes to recall information; describe ideas to make connections; set up a study schedule; and research additional tools that can help determine how your child learns best at home.
  • Don't go it alone: Dr. Evan Rhinesmith, director of research and evaluation at the PRiME Center, told STL Parent that consulting with other parents during this time is crucial. "As much as we want to, we won’t be able to fully mirror the in-person learning experience with virtual learning," Rhinesmith told STL Parent. "Accountability for students will come with trust and realistic expectations for what can be accompli​shed. Along with that, it is important that parents hold themselves accountable and staying consistent in what we hope to accomplish this school year.”