Kids Virtual Schooling This Fall? Some Unlearning Needs To Happen.


If your child's experience teaches self-education and promotes independence, then this post is not for you. You might enjoy my other post instead about the bright side of virtual schooling & quarantine.


For everyone else, this is probably going to make a huge difference in your day, so please keep reading.


The education system in most schools is a top down system. Teacher tells students what to do, students follow orders, teacher assesses and decides how to proceed. This mechanism often leads to children learning very early on to "wait for orders", "wait for everyone else", and do "what they are asked".


If your child is staying home this fall and doing virtual school, then the school mechanism needs to change. Unless you want to assume teacher role and direct your child's every assignment, that is.


How to unlearn the school way, and learn the independent way:


Step 1. Understand that it will take a bit of time.

Be patient. Over-plan and over-prepare in this phase. Think of it as potty training for self discipline.


Step 2. Realize that independent learning is a taught skill.

Let's say you have an important meeting. You need to leave your child for 1 hour to get 3 worksheets done. You set it all up beautifully. Every scenario is thought out. Your child does exactly as told. The hour passes just fine. (Lucky you!)


By the next meeting, following the same directions, this very child will be done 10-15 minutes early. How do you want this child to behave?

Give your child a choice before you even start your meeting. Something like "when you are done, you can either color or play with your lego until we can look at your work together". Both choices should be activities that your child enjoys.


A few meetings later, your child knows the drill. The worksheets are out and lego box is set in the corner along with the coloring materials.


This time, ask your child what they would like to do when done with work. Two acceptable choices should be set instead of the lego and coloring materials.


What did your child learn so far?

* That there is work to be done

* That there is a plan for after work

* That they can choose what to do while they wait until you are back (as long as it is acceptable.)


Good. Moving on.


Step 3. Give your child a chance to run with it.

Your child has figured out what an "acceptable" after-work fun entertainment is and they have a routine going. Now is the time to give them a chance to also choose their work AND without setting a time limit.


Here is an example:

Today, Adam can work on math and English. He can choose:

* Which one to start with

* To work as long he wants to on each topic, as long as he finishes at least the 2 worksheets that his parents asked him to finish to the best of his ability

* When he feels that he is done, he can choose an acceptable activity until you can check work together.

***IMPORTANT: Adam should not be interrupted as long as he is engaged in his learning.***


Here is another example:

Elle has been doing independent learning for a little while longer than Adam. She is ready for the next step.

At the beginning of the day, she writes her own plan for the day and gets right to work. When she is done working, she will prepare a snack and take a break before returning to more work. You will see Anne back when it is time for lunch.


Final word of caution: Once independent learners, always independent learners. Your child may never be able to conform to the school's "typical" education system again.