Transitioning to distance learning may pose a challenge for some families, and we want you to know that we are here to support you and your children as best we can. While some students may thrive with this approach, others may have difficulty adjusting. Below are ten guidelines* designed to help you support your child in being as successful as possible in this remote learning environment.
1—Identify a dedicated study space for your child.
Your child may already have a space designated for doing homework under typical circumstances. Be sure to evaluate whether this space is suitable for remote learning, which typically requires a strong internet signal. Many families find that public/shared space is preferable to a child’s bedroom, although different learners have different preferences.
2—Set expectations and establish daily routines.
We strongly encourage parents and guardians to begin the remote learning period by setting regular hours for schoolwork and by keeping bedtime times and routines the same as you would during a typical school year. Remember to also schedule periodic breaks to enable your child to move around and recharge. Establishing a sense of routine helps support mental and emotional well-being; without it, many students may struggle unnecessarily.
3—Have daily check-ins with your child at the beginning and end of each day.
As often as possible, check in with your child each morning to help them process their teachers’ instructions and get themselves organized and ready for the day. Questions you might ask include: What are you learning today? What are your goals? How will you spend your time? What resources and/or support do you need? This brief grounding conversation can allow children to process the instructions they’ve received from their teachers. Similarly, at the end of the day, consider asking: How did things go today? What went well and what might have gone better? What would help to make things go even better tomorrow?
4—Oversee communications from your child’s teachers.
Teachers will communicate with families and students through email, when and as necessary. The frequency and detail of these communications will be determined by your children’s ages, maturity, and their degree of independence. Please be mindful that teachers are learning in this process too and will be managing their own personal responsibilities while supporting your child and family. With that, we ask that communication be essential and succinct when possible.
5—Help your child process and take ownership of learning.
In the course of a regular school day at Hawken, your child engages with other students or adults dozens, if not hundreds, of times. These social interactions and opportunities for relationship-building include turning to a peer to exchange a thought or idea, participating in small or large group discussions, asking questions for clarification, collaborating on group projects, and countless other moments. While some of these social interactions will be re-created on virtual platforms, others will not. When you can, help your child by asking questions to encourage deeper understanding or engagement - and encourage them, when appropriate, to reach out to teachers and peers to collaborate and problem solve.
6—Set aside time each day for quiet reflection.
Families with multiple children in the house may find managing all of their children’s needs a challenge, especially when those children are different ages and have different needs. There will be distractions that may require siblings to work in different locations and conflicts over shared usage of electronic devices. These challenges can be stressful on parents and children alike, making designated time for quiet and reflection extremely helpful.
7—Ensure that your child engages in some kind of physical activity and/or exercise each day.
Movement and exercise are critical to student health, well-being, and ability to focus and learn. Our Human Performance teachers will recommend activities or exercises, but it is important for parents to follow up and encourage exercise, if possible. Think also about how your children can pitch in more at home with chores or other responsibilities.
8—Monitor how much time your child is spending online.
Hawken does not want its students staring at screens for 7-8 hours a day. We ask that families remember that most teachers are not experts in distance learning; it will require some trial-and-error before we find the right balance between online and offline learning experiences. We suggest that parents pay attention to their children’s other non-instructional screen-time to avoid excessiveness. Division directors, advisors, and/or teachers will periodically check in with you to assess what you’re seeing at home and what we need to adjust. We thank you in advance for your patience and partnership.
9—Support healthy social interactions but create social media boundaries.
Given that our remote learning begins directly following spring break, students have already been away from their friends and teachers for an extended period of time and will certainly start missing their friends, classmates, and teachers. We recommend that you find ways of supporting healthy social interactions between your students and their peers outside of online classroom experiences. While it’s important to maintain contact with friends, please monitor your children’s social media use and remind your children to be respectful and appropriate, as students’ written words and tone can sometimes cause unintentional harm to others.This is particularly important as we attempt to help students deal with feelings of isolation during this time.
10—Be aware of and attempt to mitigate any signs of stress or worry your child may exhibit.
The uncertainty of this period of time causes a range of emotions in all of us. Be sure to do your best not to transfer your feelings of fear or anxiety to your children, as they are already having to cope with their own emotions. All of the pre-mentioned suggestions will go a long way in alleviating your child’s stress and worry. But remember that even when you do everything exactly as prescribed, your child still may be out of sorts at times. Sometimes changing things up can help, and sometimes they just need time to rest and process the changes in their lives, temporary though they may be.
*Thank you to Georgetown Day School for providing input and inspiration for this page.