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Online Elementary Education is No Spring Break for Parents Teaching from Home

Adrienne Patton

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Photo of a household (not the Joseph family) by Wesley Fryer using computers in one-to-one setting used with permission

BOCA RATON, Florida, April 6, 2020 – Remote learning for elementary-aged children is a tall order, and teachers are working harder than ever while parents essentially try to manage a one-roomed schoolhouse.

While universities and colleges across the United States promptly responded to coronavirus concerns by transferring to online learning, that feat is a lot easier when the students are adults and digitally fluent.

In my curiosity to see how elementary remote learning is playing out during the coronavirus pandemic, I visited a family in Boca Raton to observe. Respecting social distancing, I sat outside the window while Camille Joseph and her daughter, Rose, used Google Classroom.

Rose is a second-grade student who started online schooling this week after enjoying Spring Break. She was wearing a red and white hat for Crazy Hat Day because Spirit week will have to carry on over the webcam this year.

Rose’s teacher split the class into several groups, and each group tunes in at a specific time every day. Rose then has to do assignments for the rest of the day online.

Jane, Camille’s oldest daughter, is in fourth grade. Every morning she tunes into a live chat with her teacher and the entire classroom. Then she is taught class when her specific group is assigned.

Jane studies slides and does homework throughout the day. But because her younger sister needs help, her mom trusts her to do schooling on her own for the most part.

Camille has five children. So, while Jane and Rose are trying to do schoolwork in separate rooms, their little brothers are running in and playing and continually interrupting.

Camille said the hardest part about remote learning is the typing. She said it takes Rose so long to type her answers because she has never had to type before. While her children might be competent on a smartphone or iPad, digital learning requires skills they haven’t developed yet.

Remote learning has been a challenge for elementary school teachers as well.

South Florida kindergarten teachers have been known to spend hours taping videos and transferring all of their classes into online platforms.

Since parents are working from home, “they have to do what’s best for them,” said one kindergarten teacher.

“But we are definitely giving them guidelines that hopefully will help” plan the day, she added.

“Every teacher is working harder than they ever have in their lives,” she said.

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