For parents who have decided that they will have their kids learning at home, or who have a child in high school who will be attending in a blended model, you may have lots of questions about how to set up your child for success with remote learning. We don’t know everything about how remote learning will look. It may even vary significantly from school to school. Still, we can get you started on making sure your child has the set up that they will need to attend classes remotely.
A device that can access the internet, with keyboard (possibly with a webcam*)
Based on what we’ve seen other schools doing with conferencing software like Zoom or Google Hangouts, a tablet device that has an attachable keyboard is sufficient! If you have an old laptop, or an iPad lying around for surfing on the couch, you might already be well-equipped.
If you don’t, there are many computer stores in the Toronto area that sell new and used devices. Any computer, laptop, or tablet device that is less than 5 years old should be able to handle any remote conferencing software the school decides to use, so don’t feel like you are compelled to buy new! If you are buying new, and you are worried about damage, remember that Costco and Best Buy have extended warranties that can cover fall and spill damage.
Reasonably decent internet
Parents working from home may have already discovered that their limited internet coverage is not up to the task with children at home watching streaming services while they work. Video conferencing and having multiple users at the same time (if you and your children are all telecommuting in) will require more bandwidth than you may expect. Often, what might be the real bottleneck is upload speed, particularly if you’re all transmitting video data – and these are where the ISPs typically limit users severely. If frequent video calling is required, and you sometimes have more than one user doing so at a time, you may want to have at least a 5 Mbps upload – possibly even 10.
Another thing you should check is to see if your internet provider has you on a plan where you have limited data. Video streaming of any sort (even if it’s only Netflix!) can really add up. You may want to move to an unlimited plan.
This might be the hardest adaptation for parents who formerly had a shared computer room! We highly recommend that everyone has their own discrete working space while they share their house together. What may surprise you, though, is it doesn’t necessarily have to be a desk with a computer sitting on top of it – there are so many options these days for families working remotely.
If you’re a traditionalist, many affordable small desks can be purchased online. But if you’re working mostly with a keyboard – why not consider a lapdesk? There are many lapdesks that can be purchased for $50 or less, and these can be small, or big enough to support a phone and a mouse too.
Also: think outside the office. This is going to be where each person finds their place to work and study in comfort. They should feel free to make this space somewhat their own and should be able to work there without too many unnecessary distractions (with some limitations, of course, if one of these workspaces happens to be the kitchen table!). Be sure to check out our post on setting up a workspace that works for more tips.
The transition to remote learning may be difficult for your child, especially if they’re not able to get as much one on one time with their teacher as they did before. Parents, a little help from can go a long way to helping your child with difficult concepts, and there are many resources to help you with that, including Khan Academy.
Of course, we also offer online tutoring sessions – and if you’re setting up for remote learning, you’ll be also perfectly set up for online tutoring! This fall, our online tutors will be transitioning from the summer mode of expanded learning back to homework help and enrichment, and they’ll be able to give your child the extra one on one help they may need to make this transition a most successful one.
Have a successful – and hopefully stress free – back to school season!
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