This Home Learning Guide will give you some tips and suggestions for helping your children enjoy a successful virtual learning environment.

 How to Integrate Hands-on Learning with Virtual Learning at Home

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Exploring Robotics lessons and activities are easy to have a combination of on screen and screen-free activities, so your child will stay more engaged with the assignments.  Some lessons are easier to combine with hands-on projects than others.  Exploring Robotics lessons have been optimized for Student Paced Learning. This is the easiest way to integrate robotics and STEM into home learning, without you having to be an expert in coding or robotics!

What are Student-Paced learning lessons?  Student-Paced learning describes learning environments that allow the student to move through the material at the pace that works, without stringent deadlines. Self-paced courses might be self-directed, but often they are instructor-directed courses the student is given the option to pace for comfort.  The content is usually provided in the form of previously recorded video lectures that supplement worksheets, activities and hands-on tasks. 

The biggest problem we have now in this unique time is that a majority of the educational content is prepared in a traditional manner, where the teacher lectures and 24 students all watch at the exact same time.  With student-paced learning, videos and step-by-step instruction can be done on their own, and teachers can check in on progress. Students complete activities and can demonstrate what the robot does via photos, video, or during a video meeting with the teacher. Each student can set their own path and it can be faster or slower based on their prior experience and learning style. Because robotics and coding might be new to both you and your child, having the ability to self pace is very important in the success of your child in the at home learning environment. 

 

What is your role as a parent?momrobot

With schools closed, many parents are being forced to work at home alongside their children. Take a look at the checklist below to see more about what the role of a parent might look like during this time:

  • Encourage 
    • The primary thing every child needs is someone to show an interest and encourage them to continue. This is especially true with STEM learning. Students may face temporary frustrations until they figure out how something works.  Say things like "I know you will figure it out, like you have before." or "Maybe we should take a little break and come back to it after lunch, or tomorrow." If they are stumped, it is a great idea to sleep on it.  Our brains work out many difficult things in our sleep.
  • Manage your expectations
    • Your day-to-day routine will be temporarily changed, and the usual lessons your child experiences at school may not be perfectly duplicated at home. The difference between learning at home and learning at school might seem like a huge one, but anything your child does academically will help move your child forward regardless.
    • Accept that typical school testing schedules will be cancelled or postponed. But just because your child is not being tested, that doesn't mean that learning should stop.  Children need to continue to use and learn math, reading, writing, and science or they will fall behind.  The good news is these can be integrated into fun robot activities. STEAM lessons have Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts (including reading and writing), and Math.
  • Check your email for updates from your child’s school
    • As schools shut down and turn to distance learning, don’t forget to check for updates from your local school district.  Remember to share any updates from the teacher directly with your kids, as they will be happy to hear from them!
  • Create a new “normal”, at least for now
    • Teachers begin every school year with the basics of setting up a classroom routine. As a parent, it’s likely that your household also has a routine that your family already has in place. But now that school is out prematurely, your usual daily agenda will also need to change to accommodate the new learn-from-home schedule. With that in mind, try to create a new normal, so your child knows what to expect each day.

 

What type of robotics systems are right for my child while at-home learning?

Not only is it important to make sure the hardware is in the right age-range for your child, but that the curriculum and lessons have been optimized for the grade level your child is currently in.  Here is a grouping of STEM based robotic systems for each grade area.

Elementary:dash2

Middle School:

High School:



Tips for parents to help their children excel in learning

  • Create a dedicated classroom space within your home
    • Whether your child is in preschool or middle school, create a space within your home that your family can use as a dedicated learning space. Clean out the home office or set up a desk in your child’s room where lessons and activities can be carried out. Make this space as comfortable as possible by adding bean bag chairs for a reading nook and allow kids to personalize the space with their artwork or completed assignments.
  • Create a schedule that includes academic time
    • We already talked about creating a new normal above, but don’t forget that kids need structure, and that includes incorporated dedicated time into each day for learning. Depending on your family’s work schedule or other responsibilities, create a schedule for weekdays that includes time throughout the day for learning. To make your plan, think about the times you think your child is most likely to give his or her best work and attention. For most children, this means that late morning and early afternoon are the most optimal times for schoolwork.
  • Take breaks throughout the day
    • You might have heard your child’s teachers talk about giving students “brain breaks”, which basically amounts to letting kids rest in between challenging activities. Studies have shown that students have and attention span of about 3-5 minutes per year of a child’s age. That means if your child is 4 years old, he or she probably has between 12-20 minutes of concentration before shutting down or falling out of focus. That’s why it’s so important to schedule learning activities for short bursts of time throughout the day, and to give kids ample brain breaks where they do something fun or physical to keep them energized.
  • Take full advantage of online learning
    • YouTube and video games are great for entertainment, but there are plenty of online resources ranging from interactive books to simulations. Without having direct access to their teachers, student will need to rely more on their ability to find information online.  Help them weed out the good from the bad.
  • Don’t forget about off-screen activities
    • In today’s digital age, you may have a ton of tech tools, but lack in resources to use off-screen. As always, it’s important to give students real practice with hands-on learning activities, especially when it comes to writing. 
  • Team up with other parents
    • Communicate with parents from your child’s school to see how you can help each other get through this challenging time. While some locations may be under a shelter in place, if your community allows, you may be interested in meeting with other parents to arrange for small classes. If this isn’t a possibility, use Skype or FaceTime to connect with other parents, share ideas, and to let little ones socialize with the friends they surely miss dearly.

 

Some final suggestions...

Go easy on yourself. Do what you can. These are difficult and uncertain times for parents and children. Parents will feel stressed, and children will, too. Talk about this with your child, explain how you manage stress, and invite children to help think through ways they can be more helpful or ways you can both make a difference in your own community or family. Skype with older relatives or invite them to Zoom in for dinner one night. Seek out support. Ask friends and relatives what they are doing to keep busy.

If you can, have fun. Build a fort. Have an indoor picnic. Use other toys or paper cups or items to make a robot playground. Create fun robot competitions. Take a walk. Make things with items you would normally throw away. Create playlists. Have a dance party in the kitchen. Write funny tweets about how hard this is. Try to find a rhythm or a time when you can get the most work done and maximize this. In a world where children often feel over-scheduled and overwhelmed, try to frame this time as a break from the stresses and pressures children face. Offering children opportunities to go outside or experience unstructured play are valuable opportunities. 

 

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