Technology Virtual Learning Tips for Parents and Grandparents 9/8/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff Many schools are not opening up anytime soon, and so most students face at least another school year of learning “virtually” – attending classes via computer while also staying at home. Parents are overwhelmed. They may be at home with their kids but they do need to work. But their kids need help with their schoolwork or with the discipline of doing their homework. What’s the solution? Grandparents! Technology for the Virtual Classroom In order to attend school virtually, the student will need the following equipment: 1. Internet Connection If the household doesn’t have internet, a smartphone that can connect with a mobile network can be used as a virtual hotspot. The tablet, laptop or desktop computer can access the internet through that hotspot. 2. Desktop, Laptop or Tablet While a smartphone can be used to access the virtual classroom, the screen is so small that it usually isn’t practical. The big screen (and keyboard) of a tablet, laptop or even desktop computer is preferable. Many schools are able to provide laptops to their students for the school year, if the student doesn’t have one of their own. 3. A Permanent Place to Study and Learn If possible, the student should have their own desk at home for their computer, books, notebooks, and writing utensils. It’s always best if equipment stays in one place so that it doesn’t get lost. It’s also best if this desk is in a quiet location – free from distractions such as television. The grandparent who will be helping out virtually will also need either a smartphone or, better still, a tablet or laptop – for the same reason. It’s a lot easier to view the words on a big screen than a small screen. Classroom Technology Schools conducting virtual classes will do so with a program such as Google Classroom, or their own proprietary software. Whatever program they use, they will give each student a log-in and a password to access their classes throughout the day. The grandparent who is physically located next to their grandkid can watch the same screen as the student. If the grandparent is located a city or half the country away, the student simply “shares” their computer screen with their grandparent, and the grandparent can then see and hear everything the kid sees. Establishing a Virtual Connection Between Grandparent with Grandkid If the grandparent has never connected virtually with the grandkid before – via Zoom, or FaceTime, or Skype, it can be a bit daunting to start with. But there are plenty of step-by-step tutorials which will explain how you can virtually connect. Select a day and time to practice connecting, and once you’ve done it a few times it will be a lot easier going forward. Tips for Virtual Teaching Regardless of whether grandparents and grandkids are side by side or connected virtually, here are a few tips on how to make “virtual school” not only a productive but also a fun learning experience for everyone. Go with the Flow Schools and their teachers are still learning what’s best for virtual learning. They may offer “live” class room experiences, where all the kids can see thumbnails of each other on screen and talk to each other or the teacher. Or the lessons may be pre-recorded, and the student simply watches the lesson and does their homework. Or it may be a mixture of both types of learning. Whatever the plan, the school should disseminate this information. Grandparents in turn must make sure their student(s) share this same information with them. Learn How Your Grandkid Likes to Learn Some kids have shorter attention spans than others. Some kids love to learn, others only do so with lots of prodding. Both types of kids will benefit from a grandparent who is consistently at their side (metaphorically speaking) so that they can ask questions, discuss ideas, and receive encouragement. Establish a Routine Everyone learns best when they have a set routine every day. If classes are pre-recorded, a student can access them on-demand, rather than at a specific time. Nevertheless, they should access their classes at a specific time every day. That way grandparent and grandkid know what time they will get together and how long they will be together, learning. Discuss What You’re Learning We say “what you’re learning” because chances are both grandparent and grandkid will learn new things together. Talk with your grandkid while helping them with homework (if they need it). By asking them to explain to you what they’re learning, you’ll not only help reinforce what they’ve learned, but also help them develop their conversational and speaking skills. Turn to Online Tutoring Sites If You Aren’t Familiar with a Subject Math is probably the one subject that grandparents fear. Free tutoring sites like Khan Academy can help, or check YouTube. The quality of instructional videos at YouTube varies, but just search around until you find a teacher who teaches at the right level you or your student needs. Realize You’re Not Alone Grandparents have been stepping up to help out their kids and grandkids since the COVID-19 shutdown began. (Well, many have been helping out their kids and grandkids forever, but we’re just discussing virtual schooling here!) There are plenty of resources on the web to help grandparents who have become their grandkid’s “study buddy” or “virtual teacher” or whatever is required of them. Below are just a few. Resources for Virtual Learning Tips Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thesurvivinghomeschool Website: https://www.weareteachers.com/free-online-learning-resources/ Read More Seniors Guide Staff Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible. Related Resources Senior Digital Literacy: An Unexpected Teacher This unexpected teacher for senior digital literacy classes turned out to have some important pluses. Breanna Palmer of The Kansas ... [Read More] 9/8/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff Does Less TV Time Lower Your Risk for Dementia? Be honest: just how much television are you watching? One study has estimated that half of American adults spend two ... [Read More] 9/8/2020 | By Andrew E. Budson, M.D.