Tips for Distance Learning at Home

  • Create an Optimal Learning Environment

    Designate a learning space that is distraction-free, and allows your student to access books, take notes, etc. Some students may benefit from having access to multiple learning zones.

    Begin/End Each Day with a Check-in

    Discuss what your student is learning and ask questions, like:

    • What are you learning today?
    • What are the learning goals?
    • How will you spend your time?
    • What project are you working on? What are you learning?
    • What resources do you require?
    • How can I help?
    • For younger children: Check off items as completed -- children love the sense of accomplishment!
    • Review if any of their teachers have office hours that day and write questions down together that may need to be answered.

    Establish Routines and Expectations for Learning at Home

    • Establish routines, expectations, and a schedule. Remember it will take some time to adjust - be patient with one another.
    • Balance screen time and non-screen time activities.
    • Minimize distractions - keep cell phones away during school time.
    • Remain mindful of your student’s well-being. Establish times for quiet and reflection.
    • Keep organized by reviewing with your child grade level assignment calendars and virtual learning platforms for updates and assignment due dates.
    • Write down a schedule for each child (or if appropriate, have your child create a schedule) with built-in breaks for snacks, outdoor movement/ exercise, and playtime.
    • Check off items as completed -- younger children love the sense of accomplishment and might also be motivated by short goals, i.e. “complete two activities from your teacher and then we’ll play a family game.”
    • Maintain regular sleep routines and wake times.One challenge for families with multiple children will be how to manage all of their children’s needs. There may be times when siblings need to work in different rooms to avoid distractions. Headphones can be a great tool to help learners focus and avoid distractions. Depending on the devices available in your home, you may also need to stagger the online work time for each child.
    • Follow these SCUSD Video Conferencing Guidelines for Students.

    Encourage Exercise

    • Take brain breaks and include physical activity as part of your child’s day. Elementary age students might take a 5-minute break after every thirty minutes of work. Secondary students might take a 15-minute break after every 1-2 hours of work time. Depending on learning needs, some students may need to take more frequent breaks.

    Support their Learning Socially

    • Distance learning opportunities may include collaborative group assignments/projects. Monitor these for/with your child as online social interaction will enhance the experience for your child.
    • If the teacher offers an “office hour” try to join in, as this can be an opportunity for peer-to-peer feedback, group discussions, sharing ideas, etc.
    • In addition to the “check-ins,” regularly engage with your child about what they’re learning throughout the day. Completing lessons with your child is one way this can be accomplished.

    Maintain Social Opportunities for your Children

    • Remember that school is about social interactions as well as academics. Encourage your child to reach out to friends by phone or online so that they stay connected.If available, plan times your child can interact with others (same compound, family members, club/activity, etc.)
    • Monitor your children’s social media use, especially during an extended campus closure. Older students will rely more on social media to communicate with friends. Social media apps such as TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Facebook are not official, school-sanctioned channels of communication. Common Sense Media is an excellent resource in assessing online programming (and much more!)

    Use Technology Responsibly

    When completing work online, joining video calls, and/or participating in virtual discussions, students should be sure to:

    • Use respectful behavior and language.
    • Stick to appropriate topic discussions.
    • Send only appropriate video transmissions.
    • Use only the appropriate icon, emoji, and avatar submissions.
    • Wear school appropriate clothing if attending meetings via video.
    • Be honest and use academic integrity by not plagiarizing or copying others’ work
    • Not falsify information about oneself or impersonate others online.
    • Become familiar with the accessibility features of the tools they are using; for example, Google Hangouts Meet allows participants to turn on closed captioning and/or turn the camera off but leave the microphone and speakers on. Other platforms have other features.

    Create a Support Network

    Everyone is encouraged to ask themselves:

    • How can a neighborhood or friendship group use a rotation schedule to provide supervision for students taking social distancing, and the most recent orders from the Santa Clara County Health Department, into account?
    • Who in the neighborhood is really "tech-savvy" and willing to help teach others how to use the online tools that are available to SCUSD students? Remember, SCUSD staff are here to help you, too.
    • It might be as easy as a quick email or google search.
    • How might older siblings and students be able to support the learning of younger children?
    • In what ways can neighbors and friendship groups share technology tools?