Preparing for Distance Learning

As mentioned on my previous post, we are doing Distance Learning this year. A combination of synchronous (virtual classes) and asynchronous (modular) approach.

The #FabSkye’s school, AIS, has a good distance learning program. Nawala ng slight ang anxiety ko.

But we still enrolled on their summer academic camp which is a 1 month virtual class program. My main goal here is to:

1. Keep her busy for a month.
2. See how well she adapts to virtual classes.
3. See what tools we need to prepare in order for her to effectively do distance learning.

Honestly, mahirap sya. I have a lot of issues because maliit talaga ang bahay ko. Hindi condusive to learning. Plus I also work from home. My own WFH setup is not even okay. Binabalakang na ko sa pwesto ko sa gilid ng sofa namin. And she has to do this from August until December (then the school will assess if it is safe to transition to face to face). That’s 5 months, or probably longer.

(Update: I already have my own workspace and we have a little #FabSkye's corner at home now. Check out our grade-schooler's desk tour vlog!) 

Also, since I WFH, I must make sure that our schedules sync. She’d probably do her thing while I’m on a meeting. We have to try it and see how we’ll do.

And I’m so glad we did the trial! Now, I have ample time to really prepare our house for her Distance Learning.

And because I love you all, I’m sharing with you the things I think you need to prepare before our kids do distance learning. I hope may mapulot kayo.

Have a designated place for learning.

We live in a 30sqm studio-type condominium. We see and hear each other all the time. No room. Very limited space. So when she started with her virtual classes, I would prop her laptop and tablet in our dining table (which is always messy) and make her sit on our dining chair.

Problem there is, kitang kita talaga nina Teacher lahat ng ginagawa namin sa bahay. It is also easy for the #FabSkye to get distracted because she would see us walking on her background or she would get distracted from the food on the table. She would also have a hard time going down the chair during their “dance” or exercise or when reaching out for things.

So I decided to fix one corner of our house and turn it into her study corner. It is on the far side of the house. If you follow me on social media, it used to be the spot where we put our Christmas Tree. 

I propped her tiny study table and chair. I setup her laptop. Got her a tablet stand and kept all her writing and drawing materials at arms reach. She loves it!

If I fix the tablet properly on her side, I could minimize the view of the rest of the house.

Since she is using a kiddie chair, it is easier for her to move around. Dance around. And get the stuff she needs to show to teacher or use.

She is also facing a wall and is beside our cabinets so the level of distraction was minimized. I noticed that she was more focused now and she could actually listen to Teacher well.

My advice is, find a tiny corner for your kids. Try to keep the distractions as far away as possible. Make sure that they are comfortable. The place should be well-lit and well-ventilated. They should also be able to freely move.

What are the tools needed for Distance Learning?

The #FabSkye use a Galaxy Tab A w/ S-pen. I did a comprehensive review of that Tab and why we ended up using it as my daughter’s primary tool for learning.

But she also use our old laptop during virtual class. So our setup is, we join the zoom meeting on 2 devices but only join audio and video on the tablet. We do this because I noticed that she would get distracted when she won’t see her classmates or her teacher especially when there is something being projected on the screen. Basically, the laptop is used so she could see Teacher and her other classmates.

(Update: She is now using a big laptop 15.6 inches of screen as her main device and use the Tab for answering her modules since it has an s-pen.)

I made her use a wired headset during the 1st day of her class and she hates it. She can’t freely move. So I made her use my bluetooth headset. When she was on our dining area, she can’t properly hear teacher and her teachers can’t hear her properly. But when we moved to her little corner, she could now make do without a headset. Though sometimes mahina masyado ang boses. I am now thinking if we should buy a mic for her. Hahaha! The Tab’s speaker is loud enough that even I could hear her teachers. But a cheap bluetooth headphones is also another option. My earbuds is not for kids so she sometimes get ear fatigue from long use. I think we might go the extended mic option but we’ll see. Anyway, a mic would also be useful for our vlogging so if we ever got one, it won’t be a waste.

(Update: She has her own bluetooth headphones now.)

We have a printer here but we don’t use it for her worksheets because she could do her worksheets on her Tab. The printer is primarily used for supplemental worksheets or for her art stuff. I would print out things that she could paint on or cut out so we could still practice her motor skills. I don’t want her to forget writing on an actual paper.

Oh! I also got her a tablet stand so her tab is securely in place during lessons. I used to prop her tab on whatever jar I could find but since we moved to a little space, the tablet stand come in handy. The stand is cheap, I ordered it from Lazada but it does the job. I could even extend it so it’ll be a bit high so she won’t have to show her nostrils to Teacher. Hehehe!

Conditioning your child for distance learning.

Distance Learning is technically a new concept especially for our children. I tried to keep an open communication with my children so the #FabSkye has always been aware of what’s happening around her. She understands why she is not allowed to go out of the house and why she has to do virtual classes.

But I still try to remind her our current status. I make sure that she understand that it is still school and that her performance matters. That if she wants to really learn she has to participate on the activities and listen to her teacher.

I make sure that her study area is conducive to learning and that she eat before going online. I have a bottle of water ready for when she gets thirsty and a handful of tissue paper for her allergic rhinitis.

I remind her everyday that learning is important. And that it is her decision to keep on schooling this year when I talked to her about the possibility of taking a gap year. She said she wants to continue with school so I always tell her that it is she who decides on it and that she should keep her part and participate on the virtual class.

Distance Learning is not easy. It requires a lot of preparation for both the kids and us, parents. But in our new normal, we have to make sure that we also adjust, and that we help our kids adjust as well.

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