As NYC schools shift between in-person and hybrid learning models during the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is for sure: Remote learning will be around in some fashion for at least a few more months.
Parents across the city remain understandably anxious about how to help their children adjust to full-time remote learning or blended-education options. The Child Center of NY, a community-based organization that works to close the gap for New York City’s under-served communities through afterschool programs, counseling, and many other services, has been helping parents in need with related issues since before the pandemic hit New York City.
Nicholas Ferreira, one of The Child Center’s Senior Vice Presidents of Youth Development, offers up the following tips that he and his staff provide to parents in under-served communities.
“This pandemic is unprecedented, and we are all trying to do the best we can for our children,” Ferreira says. “The biggest tip I can give to any parent is not to sweat the small details. Educators, community-based organizations, and many more are willing to help if you are just able to get your child logged in for school.”
The following are some ways that parents can help their children learn during this atypical school year.
- Get your child logged on, and educators can do the rest. It is OK if your home is noisy or the lighting is less than ideal. Educators are resilient and will work through the situation. However, they cannot help if your child does not log in for instruction. If you experience technical difficulties, email your child’s teacher or others willing to assist. If you are concerned about what shows up in your child’s background, there are virtual wallpapers to use on Google Meet or Zoom.
- Help your child select a spot to do coursework. The biggest mistake parents make when setting up a spot for their child to do homework is failing to take the child’s thoughts and feelings into consideration. Ask your child where they will be able to best concentrate on their schoolwork, and do your best to accommodate them. Elaborate, Instagram-worthy learning centers are not necessary to create a strong learning experience.
- There are tools to help children with homework. The Dial-a-Teacher program (dialateacher.org) is a homework help line for elementary and middle school students attending New York City public schools. It offers help from teachers in ten different languages. You can also call the program at 212-777-3380.
- Reinforce safe habits. Parents are vital partners in reinforcing the proper way to wash your hands, keep a safe distance, and wear a face covering. It is the best way to keep families who opted for blended instruction safe.
- Find a routine that works for your family, especially those with multiple children. There are no set rules for education during a pandemic. It is OK if your children work better at different times during the day or even in different areas of the household. The most important thing is that each child is comfortable. When you can, lean on the knowledge of older siblings who can help younger children get set up — and even help — with homework.