October 28, 2020

What Are We Learning From Our Experience with Remote Learning?

Trying to educate our children during COVID19 has, to date, been confusing, scary and oh-soooo-tiring! But we are learning a lot and some of what we’re learning is very surprising and is causing us to question the way we’ve done things in the past. 


Here’s a list of 15 things we think we’ve all learned collectively about educating our kids. I think you’ll be surprised at all the work you’ve done! 

  • If we sit still for a moment and look carefully, we can see that many of our kids rallied to a new way of learning and as a result, gained some well-earned confidence that they can do more than they thought they could.
  • We realize now that teachers are gods and goddesses and are responsible for much more learning and in many more areas than we ever thought about!
  • And, if I may, we’ve learned that parents are gods and goddesses --- extraordinaire!! My hat is off to all parents!! Did you know YOU had such strength to endure and were so creative? 
  • We’ve learned that turning our lives upside-down in one quick instant, is painful! And sorting things out in the next instant is terribly hard, if not practically impossible! But we have survived and we’ve come a long way down the path from where we were eight months ago! Life is complicated and messy! There, I’ve said it --- it’s out in the open and the concept of “perfect” is out the window! 
  • We’ve come to realize that much of life in the US revolves around school schedules. 
  • And we’ve been painfully reminded how much life in the US revolves around a parent’s work schedule. A conflict occurs because schools have a general schedule to which they have adhered for over 50 years, yet the way parents work has changed considerably over the years and is ever changing. 
  • We’ve become alarmed that our kids will lose somewhere between 30% to 60% of all they know because of the loss of in-school time.  This is a lot! How can this be? 
  • We have gotten a quick look at how our kids choose to spend their time if they’re not directed by teachers or by parents. Maybe we’ve been given a clue to what really interests our kids.
  • We’ve grown to respect that downtime is as important as on-task, concentrated time. Extending study hours is not always the best way to learn something. 
  • Being at home with our kids and overseeing their school day has made us realize how important it is for our kids to know how to self-direct their day --- at least part of it. Being consistently in charge of our kids is way too exhausting and becomes self-fulfilling! In fact, it can hold our kids back. 
  • To our horror we’ve come to realize that there can be a huge difference in a school system between which kids have access to resources and which don’t --- through no fault of their own. 
  • We’ve become very aware that an important resource for our kids is their friends! 
  • How did we overlook how creative our kids are? When give permission to be creative, our kids can come up with the most incredible solutions to things. A house, a yard, a community can be a huge network of resources --- just look around! 
  • That kids learn better with a real live, in person teacher is now painfully obvious. And that our teachers are stretched way too thin to have time to really get to know each of their students is also painfully obvious.
  • After all these months at home with our children we REALLY are in a good place to tell anyone who will listen how our kids learn best. If asked, I imagine that most parents could describe what would make a good school experience from their kids.


Now that we’ve accumulated this information about our children and their education, it seems we have a lot to think about. Here are some of the new things we think parents and educators must investigate:

  • Have the particular circumstances around COVID caused kids to change the way they use the resources around them? Did they use these resources in the past and just don’t have access to these resources now? Or perhaps some kids never used the available resources at all. Have some kids discovered new and different resources? Sounds like we need to take a long hard look at how kids use resources regardless of whether they are in school or learning remotely. 
  • Maybe we should think about a new definition of resources.
  • How is a loss in student learning during the summer break actually measured? What does a learning loss of 30% to 60% actually look like?
  • Have kids ever caught-up after this drop in learning after an extended absence from summer break? If so, what helped them catch-up? 
  • How can we more effectively use the time, energy, skill and wisdom of our teachers?
  • How can we better partner school schedules and parents’ work schedules?  
  • What would life be like if we had more balance in it? How do we go about taking a long hard look at this?
  • How can we better use the power of peers and relationships in a student’s education 
  • Is anyone listening to what our kids have been telling us about the way they learn and what interests them? Why not?

We have definitely gained a lot of insight into the way education has worked and is working or not working for kids and how this education fits into or should fit into family life. And now we have things to say and new questions that need to be addressed. 

The first question is ---

who is willing and able to listen?