Back to School...Online!
Okay class, we asked parents who also happen to be experts in technology and cyber security questions about Remote Learning and online safety. Now pay attention and get ready to learn how to keep your school bus running!
Juggling All of It Starts With a Game Plan
Create a schedule and stick to it like Gorilla Glue but be ready to change it at the drop of a hat. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we have to be flexible. Expect the unexpected!
Set up a dedicated and safe space for learning. This doesn’t have to be a decked out classroom that you spent $500 on, it could simply be a corner in their room or another room in your home. The main focus should be a space that your child will be comfortable and able to learn in.
Communication. Communication. Communication.
Talk about expectations and the schedule with your kids. They’ll be more likely to follow along with a stake in the process and they'll have fun doing it! Ask your kids questions about the schedule, online safety, and remote learning. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn! Your kids should understand that even though they are physically at home, when they are logged into class, they are IN SCHOOL.
We Gotta Have Boundaries
If you are working from home, put a kid friendly sign on your door. Have your kids draw a picture on it if they want. The possibilities are endless and it doesn’t matter if you are a single parent home or the guardian of a child. Here are some fun suggestions:
“Mommy’s busy, go ask daddy!”
“Do Not Disturb Unless There’s an Emergency. Your phone dying does not constitute an emergency.”
For kids learning to tell time, get one of those really cool hanging cardboard clocks and set the hands at the time they are allowed to bug you!
Talk to them about the kinds of apps and websites they are allowed to use. If they use social media, make sure you’re on their friends list. It’s not enough to be their friend, you need to keep up with what’s happening on their page!
Be clear and make sure your kids have an understanding of cyber bullying. You should also make it clear that if they are the bully, there are consequences. In addition, kids may not realize that the words and photos they are posting are online...are forever. They need to understand that whatever they are putting out there will be a reflection of them.
Get them interested in being a good Digital Citizen. There are plenty of free and fun programs online for them to use their technology skills and learn about safety!
Take breaks! Your kids need them just like you need them. Pry their sticky little fingers away from the keyboard and encourage them to go outside. Take them to the park. Use nature to create a fun Science lesson. Take a field trip to the zoo if you can. This is a great opportunity for family time!
Support Your Biggest Supporters...The Teachers
Everyone is learning how to fly the plane as it’s being built at this point. So how can you, as a parent, support the teachers and administrative staff in an online classroom?
You in the back, pay attention! That’s right, it is up to YOU to learn the technology that your kids and teachers are going to be using and yes, we know that you may have more than one child with two totally different teachers who use totally different apps. Still, it’s up to you.
- Go through the settings...especially the privacy and security settings.
- Set up a test meeting for your child and perhaps even let them act like the teacher!
- If your school has a tech support line, use it. No question is a dumb question and you could be helping out another parent.
- Take inventory. If there is something you need like a monitor or keyboard, ask the school for one or reach out to family and friends.
- Google things you do not know. Watch YouTube videos.
Your teacher is not physically with your child so you or their caregiver will need to step in. You can do this!
This may be the toughest one. Are your kids actually doing the work? How can you make sure? Are they behaving in class? What happens if they aren’t behaving? You can monitor activity without being a crazy helicopter parent! Here are some ideas:
- Screen Monitoring Software like Net Nanny
- Parental controls in Windows, Android, iPhones, other apps, etc. Click here for video tutorials on parental controls.
If you see something, say something...and do it right away! The best part about all of us in a digital world is that we can communicate quickly. You don’t need to wait three months until the next parent teacher conference to bring up questions and concerns.
Teachers do not have as much control without being in the classroom. They cannot tap little Sara on the shoulder to tell her she is talking too much. They can mute your kids during meetings but that’s about it. So, what is the teacher’s responsibility? Aside from giving your kids an amazing education, we hope their district has given them some technology and cyber security training. We hope they are observant to recognize a safety issue online because in all reality, your teachers are your first line of defense in a remote learning environment.
Extra Credit: Psychology 101
Be mindful. This is a learning curve for you but it is also for your child and their teachers. Give everyone, including yourself, a break. It is just as important to meet emotional needs as it is physical needs.
Communication throughout all of this is what will get us all through it. You are a safe zone and your kids need to know and fully understand that. They are going to make mistakes online just as you have. Give them a break. Use their mistakes as teachable moments to help them understand what is acceptable and what isn’t. Help them understand what the consequences are. Let them know they are not going to get in trouble for coming to you.
It truly does take a village to raise children. You are not alone. You can do this! A+
Want more? Check out our Internet Safety for Kids Guide. It's jam packed with resources and up to date on the safety of popular apps your kids are probably using right now!
Wizer’s hacker, Chris Roberts!