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How Parents Can Support Students in Virtual Learning

Dorothy Strehl, Director, FVS Learning Center
Learning is most engaging when it is an adventure and we are excited to start a new chapter in the history of Fountain Valley School! As we launch our virtual learning platform, FVSV, I’d like to offer our families some strategies so that you as parents can support your students and help them make the most of their virtual learning. Expect creativity and positive energy from our faculty as we embrace this new challenge, and know that we must partner in this endeavor. As faculty, we are excited to reconnect with our students, and I believe students are looking forward to engaging in a supportive routine for their education. Here are some ways to support your child’s learning.

Set Up a Workspace

Help your child set up a designated study space that suits the way they like to work and learn. While some students do best in a quiet space, others prefer more interaction along with the increased accountability that a table in the kitchen or living room may provide. Have them use AirPods, earbuds or headphones if they need to block outside noise. Ask your child what they need and want in their space and help them outfit it with pencils, pens, paper, sticky notes, a calculator, graph paper, and other materials. Support students by removing distractions like cell phones, and help them maintain a clutter-free workspace.

Build a Schedule and Stay Organized

Set aside some time to sit down with your child to build a schedule. Then check in with them periodically to help them with planning ahead. To stay organized with assignments, I suggest that students break them into smaller chunks. Create a bulleted list of tasks that need to be completed for a given assignment, prioritize them and assign due dates to each. Google Calendar is a great way to do this, especially if you build reminders into events.

It’s also helpful to draw a graphic organizer to visualize all tasks that need to be completed for an assignment. Write the assignment’s name in the center of a page and draw bubbles and sub-bubbles and so on around the larger assignment. Again, prioritize and set due dates. Students will access assignments through Blackbaud, and here’s a link to the FVSV Two-Week Calendar for April 6-17 for your reference.

Take Breaks!

Breaks are especially important now that your child is in one location for the entire school day. It’s a good idea that they use their breaks to get away from screens, go outside, talk to people, read a book and exercise. Of course please support your child and the greater good by encouraging proper social distancing.

For students who are learning asynchronously (not face-to-face) because they are in a time zone that isn’t convenient to live instruction, I suggest that they set their own work hours and a routine that includes breaks that fit with their needs. Consider when they are most alert and motivated, and use those times for the most challenging assignments or coursework.

Tips for Students

Reading-Stop every few paragraphs, page, stanza, and summarize the information in a format that makes the most sense for you. You can record your summary, write it on a sticky note and place it on your reading, draw a picture that represents your summary, or sort that information into a graphic organizer. When finished with your reading, sort the information into a graphic organizer by beginning with the central idea or plot and identifying major events around that idea. After summarizing what happened, identify how literary elements, character development, etc., helped you identify what happened and how that impacts the overarching theme. Sort the information into a timeline that identifies important dates, people, events, and how the events impact each other and the overarching topic.

Mathematics-Organize your work going down the page as far as possible, and then begin a new column to the right with work that goes on the page as far as possible. With minor calculations or side work, do this clearly off to the side and box that work to not confuse yourself with your work for the main problem. Begin by asking yourself what the answer should look like for the given problem. Identify what information will help you answer that question. Identify what you still need to answer that question. Determine a method to go from what you are given to get what you need in order to answer the problem. You may want to talk aloud and record yourself as you do this. Get feedback from your math teacher if you feel as though you’re not thinking through problems appropriately.

Writing-If you like to dictate verbally or capture information prior to writing, you can dictate into the Notes app and copy/paste into a Google document. You can also try speech-to-text using the dictate button on Google Voice, Microsoft OneNote or Word. Fold a blank piece of paper to hide text on the page and slowly slide it down as you read.


Parents, above all, know that we will work together in this brave new world of virtual learning! I encourage you to reach out to me, your child’s adviser and their teachers with questions and concerns. We’ve got this, right? Right!
FVS is a private, college-preparatory, co-ed, day and boarding school for grades 9-12 in Colorado Springs.
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