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4 tips for distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic

Here are a few tips as well as resources to help parents guide their students through online learning.

PHOENIX — Editor's Note: The above video features coverage on Maricopa County health officials weighing in on whether Arizona is ready to reopen for in-person classes. 

With so much uncertainty as to when students will be able to safely head back to school, parents might be wondering how they can keep students on track while distance learning.  

Here are a few tips as well as resources to help parents guide their students through online learning.

The online educators at Arizona Virtual Academy and Insight Academy of Arizona shared some tips for parents. 

Keep a schedule 

Designate a place and time your student will work each day.  

“I think the best thing for parents to do is dedicate a time and a space in their home so the kids can really focus,” Sarah Alexander, deputy head of schools for Arizona Virtual Academy and Insight Academy of Arizona explained.   

Math teacher Erin Lambert said she usually handwrites a schedule. She suggests using a dry-erase board and having your student create the schedule with you.  

“Have a morning meeting and then an end-of-day meeting and talk about what they accomplished,” Lambert said.   

Even if you cannot be home with your student throughout the day. These online educators encourage parents to check-in with them and go over what they worked on each day.  

RELATED: Valley teachers get creative with educating online during coronavirus outbreak

Brain breaks are a thing  

Lambert also brought up the importance of taking a break. Parents are encouraged to allow students to have a mental break from school work. She suggests they get up and stretch, do some jumping jacks or even strike a yoga pose.  

Communication is key  

Mary Dominguez teaches high school students, but as a parent herself, she cannot stress enough how much communication is needed to make online learning a success.

If you or your student has a question for the teacher, ask it! There’s a chance you are not the only one wondering about it.  

“Communication is the biggest part of distance learning because we don’t see the kids every day. The parent has to take that in-between role and we are all part of a team when you do it this way,” Dominguez said. 

RELATED: Kids at home? Here’s a list of online learning resources for all grades

Reward good work 

It is not cheating if you offer your student some “encouragement” in the form of incentives and rewards. Perhaps, it is extra video game time or a special dessert after dinner. Offering your student something to work for will likely keep them on track. 

And do not forget to reward yourself! You are doing great at this distance learning thing too! 

“It is a great opportunity for a bonding experience between the parent and student. They don’t often interact with their student in this way. I know it is kind of under some stressful conditions depending on what’s going on with work and the family and things like that, but it is just an opportunity to see your student as a learner and to bring that experience that is often so far away from you into the home,” Alexander said.

Extra help and resources

If you need a little extra help here are some online resources.  Some of them are free, while others require a subscription.

General Education 

  • Khan Academy is free. It has a full curriculum of video lessons in math, history, science, and humanities from the elementary level to high school. It also has college-prep resources.
  • TED-Ed has free introductory video lessons on history, math and art for all grade levels.
  • Lynda is a paid subscription that offers a full curriculum of trade-specific lessons such as graphic design, photography, video editing, business and web development.
  • SkillShare has free introductory lessons and more extensive coursework with a subscription that offers trade-specific lessons in graphic design, video production, art, business and marketing.
  • Scholastic launched a free online learning program for elementary students with lessons also in Spanish.
  • Brainson has free audio lessons on topics ranging from history, science and art for elementary students. 

Music

  • Justin Guitar offers a free curriculum of video guitar lessons from beginner to expert
  • Flowkey has video lessons and an app for piano under a paid subscription.

Art

Google has a free collection of arts and humanities from all eras with lessons about each piece’s history.

Many museums also offer virtual tours of their collections.

Aerospace

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is offering free, for-credit online courses to high school juniors and seniors. 

The high school courses are listed as follows:

  • Aeronautics Pathway (ASCI 202)
  • Aviation Legislation (ASCI 254)
  • Introduction to Computers & Applications (CSCI 109)
  • Foundations of Biology (BIOL 120)
  • History of Aviation in America (HIST 130)
  • Meteorology (WEAX 201)
  • Introduction to Sociology (SOCI 210)

To enroll in the free courses, students must have a 2.75 GPA. An unofficial transcript is required.

Email Joseph Hoffman, Embry-Riddle Worldwide’s director of Dual-Enrollment, for more information: Hoffmj12@erau.edu.