- Alex's Advice
- Virtual Learning
“Alexa: teach my kid math.”
If only parents could make such demands on our technology, especially during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. With many schools now fully virtual or a hybrid of in-classroom and online, many parents (myself included!) are left wishing for a magic “help” button that can save them from this unparalleled situation.
That’s because virtual learning is difficult -- on both children and their families. Children with complex challenges, however, suffer exponentially when learning is fully online.
For these children, the increased executive functioning demands of distance learning, coupled with reduced support and adult interaction, create a recipe for failure. For parents, we are being asked to take over the roles of teacher, special education support, occupational therapist, and executive functioning support, which is impossible.
So, what are parents to do? How do we keep our children on track while building their independence, when managing their virtual schoolwork and schedules can feel like a full-time job?
Although it’s not a magic button, I believe an Amazon Echo Dot is pretty close. With a little simple planning, this device (paired with Alexa, the executive functioning coach with the heart of a general and the precision of a Swiss clock) can take some of the stress of online learning off of a parent’s plate.
Here are some ways to organize your child’s virtual learning, with the help of our friend Alexa and its downloadable app:
#1: Put an Amazon Echo Dot in your child’s most commonly used room(s).
This may be their bedroom, or in the room they use for online schooling. It should be somewhere easily accessible, and loud enough for them to hear any alarms or announcements. If you have more than one device, you can put them in multiple places throughout your home.
#2: Program your morning routine.
If you’re sick of constantly barking orders at your child in the morning, have Alexa help! At 30-minutes before school starts, set a timer to have Alexa tell your child to brush their teeth, make their bed, and get dressed. It can even nag them in 10-minute intervals if your child is a notorious procrastinator.
#3: Program your child’s daily schedule.
Set a series of alarms using the Alexa app to sync with classroom start times and breaks throughout the day. Alexa can say, “You have class in three minutes, get to your seat,” and then, “Class starts in 30 seconds, time to log on.” Doing so in the app could not be simpler -- it will take you less than half an hour to set up the entire schedule.
#4: Pair this technology with physical organization.
Make sure your child’s workspace is set up for success: clear of clutter, free of distractions, and with all the school supplies needed for the day. If you want to get advanced, color-code your materials (all science materials are in the blue folder, English in green, etc.). Then, you can have Alexa say, “It’s time for Science - Blue Folder!” Simple prompts like this will go a long way in staying organized.
While we may bemoan being replaced by robots in the future, organizing virtual schooling is one job they can happily have! Do you have any tips to add to this list? Put them in the comments below, or join the conversation on our Facebook page.