[Home]school is back in session and parents continue to find ways to help their children thrive and stay engaged. We’ve gathered tips from learning app Lingokids’ prestigious board of educators, Ellen Wartella, Professor and Director of the Center on Media and Human Development of Northwestern University and member of the Lingokids Education Board, and Suzanne Barchers, Education Advisory Board Chair for Lingokids on how to address and manage important topics.
Set a schedule and ask questions:
Suzanne Barchers: Work together with your child to establish a schedule that provides a variety of tasks and activities. Agree to the schedule and sign a mock contract. Build in breaks that you take together, such as a five-minute stretching activity, jogging in place, having a snack. During those scheduled breaks, discuss any problems that could arise from schoolwork assigned by the school. When assignments are difficult or confusing, remind your child that you’re there to help, even if it means checking with the teacher or an explanation of a difficult math problem on the internet! Reassure your child that these are unusual times and that your job as a parent is to ensure everyone’s safety and good health.
Don’t be concerned about their “lack of socialization:”
Suzanne Barchers: This is a valid concern. However, restrictions at schools minimize conversation and interaction (wearing masks, 6-feet apart), so you have to remind them that this is temporary and there’s little that they’re going to miss! Children need to be reassured that this is all new to everyone and that adults are doing everything they can to keep everyone safe and healthy until a solution is found.
Remember children are flexible. Keep them busy learning and add family activities:
Suzanne Barchers: Children are flexible and may have, indeed, some gaps in their learning. Some suggest that we think this as a “gap year” and not worry about losses since many other lessons are being learned. For example, more reliance on oneself to keep busy. Many families are finding other activities that can be done safely and together at home, like cooking. They can also try playing board games or educational apps in order to fulfill and joining the activity and keep them busy learning, not just busy.
Add ed-tech apps into the routine:
Suzanne Barchers: Children learn at different rates and stages. What comes quickly to some takes longer for others to master. For example, an app like Lingokids encourages repetition of an activity until reaching mastery, so it can be scattered throughout the day to provide a diversion or practice on a skill. Apps provide needed practice in an entertaining platform. Children love this and these practices help them internalize and “fix” skills. Having choices gives the child a sense of control over their learning path and encouraged them to think for themselves.
Ellen Wartella: One of the nice aspects of Lingokids is that it enables the child to work and work again on learning activities he or she finds particularly engaging, making the experience personalized. Ed-tech activities that involve repetition are important for keeping the child engaged throughout a day and enables the parent to develop an at-home schedule of activities with the child. Time working on school work, playing with non-media activities, zooming with virtual pals or family, and reading or spending time just playing with toys should and could be part of the at-home time.
Don’t be concerned about “too much screen time:”
Ellen Wartella: Of course children need to do more screen time during these unusual times. Although most of what critics dislike about the screentime is not the eyes on the screen rather than the content (violent, overly sexualized). Nonetheless, screens are very much a part of both children’s and adult’s lives which is why having a schedule for a day will encourage children to engage with both the screen and other important activities.
Suzanne Barchers: Personally, I believe parents need to break up the screen time with non-screen time, even if it’s just for breaks.
Suzanne Barchers, EdD is the Former Editor in Chief and VP of Leapfrog Enterprises, former Managing Editor at Weekly Reader. She’s an award-winning author of more than 250 books for teachers and children, plus two college textbooks, and served on PBS and Association of Educational Publishers Advisory Boards.
Ellen A. Wartella, PhD is a researcher in the role of media in children’s development. She is the Al-thani Professor of Communication Studies, Director of the Center on Media and Human Development and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University.