GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — Virtual learning is what you make of it, according to Grain Valley woman who works full-time from home and co-teaches her three children.
"Your kids can really do this on their own with little help from you,” Diane Enlow said.
And when her kindergarten, fourth- and eighth-grade 'students' don't want to complete their work, Enlow said she tells them they "don't have an option."
"If you were in school, you would not be able to say, 'I don't need to do this,' and that has been a little bit of a challenge," Enlow said.
As Grain Valley and dozens of other school districts across the metro evolve their virtual learning platforms to find what works and what doesn’t, Enlow said parents should as well.
“My eighth grader now has all of his meetings, and he sets timers at the beginning of the day for all of his meetings – five minutes before – so he knows that he has a meeting when the timer goes off,” Enlow said. “And I use dry erase boards for my elementary kids."
Reese, Enlow’s fourth grader, said having her mother as her teacher is "awkward," but offered some advice for such a situation.
”When you get mad, don't take it out on your mom because it never works,” she said. “Just be calm and take a deep breath."
Enlow said co-teaching her children is "not all rainbows and butterflies," and there are some challenging moments.
"There's days where my kindergartner is sitting in his chair on his head and we just roll with it," Enlow said.
On those days, she said, she has learned to be flexible and take more breaks. If something is really not going well, sharing those struggles with the teacher is key.
"They are always going to be willing to work with the parents," Enlow said. "I mean, their goal is to teach the kids in whatever way they can and they didn't go to college to be virtual teachers, ya know?"
But Grain Valley Kindergarten Teacher Nicki DeLoach said online learning still is learning.
“They don't need to worry that their children are not going to make the gains they need or reach the goals that they want for them academically," DeLoach said. "We can still accomplish that online."
For other parents, Enlow said to do the best job possible because everyone will get through.
"The kids are gonna be back in school, kids are resilient” Enlow said. “There's going to be a time when this is done, and this time if you're positive and you look at this as a time with your kids, that this is a gift that you've been given and make some memories and just do the best you can."
DeLoach suggested three tips for parents and families who are involved in virtual learning:
- Have a routine and stick to it so your student/child knows what to expect – just as if they were in school.
- Communicate with your student’s teacher as much and as often as possible. Different students learn differently.
- Check for online ‘office hours’ where students can get one-on-one help.
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