Learning from home can be a struggle at the start for both the student and the parent. Our children are used to the routine of going to school every day, attending classes and then coming home to do their homework. It can disruptive and unsettling when suddenly they have to adjust to remote learning. Luckily Google has developed a useful app to make schooling at home a little easier. Google Classroom is a popular tool for sharing files with students, grading work, and more. It’s easy to set up and simple to use. To help you with Google Classroom and how you can use it to support your child, here’s an introduction to the popular web app along with a few tips on supporting your child in a remote learning environment.
What is Google Classroom?
Google Classroom is a file-sharing web app that stores announcements, assignments, and resources posted by the teacher. Students and teachers can communicate through Google Classroom, but its primary use is to simplify the way files are shared, whether that file is a class syllabus, an academic reading, a quiz, or a general announcement.
Setting up Google Classroom
Setting your child up with Google Classroom is simple and easy. All you’ll need is a smart device (like a smartphone, tablet, or computer), an internet connection, an email that you can link to the Google Suite, and a unique classroom access code provided by your child’s teacher. Once your child is set up, they can go into their online classroom and navigate through three tabs. The Stream tab has announcements and upcoming due dates, the People tab is used to communicate with other students or teachers in the classroom, and the Classwork tab is where they will find tasks and resources on various topics assigned by the teacher.
Keeping track of your child’s learning
There are many ways that you can take a more active role in your child’s remote education. Check-in with your child’s teacher and they can send you a unique code from Google Classroom allowing you to become a “student guardian”. Being a student guardian doesn’t give you access to everything in your child’s Google Classroom, but it will allow you to see the classroom calendar which shows you upcoming due dates in the curriculum. You can also opt-in to receive regular reports called “guardian summaries” which are sent to your email and include information about your child’s upcoming work, activity in the classroom, and progress.
Other apps in the Google Suite
Aside from Google Classroom, a few other useful apps in the Google Suite include YouTube, Google Hangouts, Google Calendar, Google Sheets, Google Docs, and Google Drive.
YouTube and Google Hangouts are great video resources that your child’s teacher may use. YouTube has thousands of educational videos – some of which may be used in the classroom for your child to watch and study from. For tutorials or class discussions, your child’s teacher may use Google Hangouts, which is Google’s video conference platform.
Google Docs and Google Sheets are both writing and editing tools in the Google Suite. On Google Docs, your child can create written assignments like essays. For subjects that require spreadsheets, graphs or statistics, Google Sheets may be a more appropriate editing tool.
For general organisation, your teacher might use Google Calendar and Google Drive. Google Calendar is linked to your child’s online classroom and will hold the due dates of any upcoming assignments. Google Drive is where those assignments are stored along with other resources – your child’s Google Classroom should have its own shared drive for submitting work or sharing resources.
Creating a productive learning environment
Aside from familiarising yourself with the tech side of things, it’s equally important to create a physical space where your child can feel focussed and comfortable at home. The perfect workspace will look different to everyone. It can help to involve your child in the process to create a space they feel productive in – maybe it’s on the couch, or at a desk by a window. It can be helpful to move around the house throughout the day trying out different spaces. Another creative way to design a productive learning environment is to put up a physical assignment calendar. Both you and your child should have access to upcoming assignments through Google Classroom but putting it onto a big blackboard or having a calendar on the fridge will help keep you and your child organised and prepared.
Managing screen time
There are plenty of parental control apps that can help with managing your child’s device usage. With parental control you can see what apps your child is using and how often, you can also restrict access to certain apps and websites. Many popular apps like Netflix and YouTube have their own set of parental controls which you can tailor to your needs. Once you have an understanding of your child’s usage you can come up with a reasonable schedule for using devices in the house. For information on digital parenting and keeping your child safe, check out our support page, which highlights some of the challenges your child may face online.