Remote learning tries parents' patience

"I don't got this! I'm not a teacher; help me!" It was a plea from a mom who is worried her daughter will fall behind without the right routine. She isn't alone.

"I don't got this! I'm not a teacher; help me!" Said Giselle M. from Quebec, a week into the remote teaching program for her nine-year-old daughter. It was a plea from a mom who is worried her daughter will fall behind if they can't figure out the right routine. She isn't alone.

Many parents all over North America and the world are echoing Giselle's worry as they try to figure out how to incorporate remote online teaching for their kids. And, the truth is most of us are not teachers, and it's tough to become one or pretend to be one in such a short amount of time.

School boards have sent online packages of work for kids to get through. Which partly leaves us feeling as if this should be easy; all we have to do is show them the work and let them get to it, right? No such luck.

Unfortunately, there are many challenges that online learning bring with it that parents have to try to wade through. It's a process full of errors, missteps and concerns for parents. " This is nothing like school, I feel like all I'm doing is sitting my daughter in front of a computer," is an often repeated comment.

Since Giselle felt overwhelmed with the remote teaching, she spoke to a few of her homeschooling friends to get some hints and recommendations. It helped her set up a more realistic schedule, which works better for her family, including breaks, arts and shorter times on the computer.

A different issue brought up by Ontario based Michelle F., mother to a 15, 12 and a nine-year-old, was, "I don't have the best computer so Adobe keeps crashing!" and "... the Internet is limited and very slow."

People in rural areas are faced with a significant problem with older technology that might lag and internet connections that aren't the strongest. As an exercise that would take a minute to set up for one family might be a whole morning project for another. It's enough to tire and stress out any parent, not even mentioning how a child might feel bored and lost as their parent tries to reload a page that just doesn't seem to want to oblige.

Other families with no home computers have had to resort to using their smartphones and blow up their data plans to have children complete their projects. This is a costly and sometimes frustrating reality.

Michelle isn't relying solely on online teaching; she has incorporated family walks, jigsaw puzzles, cooking and family baking to complement the at-home school day. Although even with all her efforts, the activities still don't satisfy her nine-year-old, an extremely social young lady who misses her friends and is in tears every few days because of their absence. The interaction between the students as well as the teacher is a link that is missing with the online modules.

Michelle's daughter's sentiment about missing her friends is one that resonates with many kids of different ages. Such as Kat W.'s three-year-old son, from the UK, which has led mom and son to have a few difficult conversations "about why he cannot go to his nursery school and see his friends." Her parents have stepped up and helped her son feel less secluded by inviting him to play bingo matches via Skype.

Kat also feels the need to present some normality, positivity and regularity during this confusing time. She has set up a full routine, including crafts, reading, as well as some online educational games, to copy a similar schedule as if he was still in nursery school. It has helped them cope, although it has ended up also setting a bedtime for this tired mother who is now tucked in bed by 9 PM.