Prepare Your Space
Where will your students join online classes from in your home?
Students of all ages might benefit from some dedicated studying space in your home! If you have the ability to set up such a space for your student, here are some things to consider:
- A room with natural light will look best on camera. Overhead lights in your house can take over the webcam picture and reduce everyone’s ability to see you. If you can, sit in a room that’s well lit with the lights off. If you can, sit with lights and windows ahead of you, not behind you.
- How many distractions can you remove from this space? Less clutter will help your student focus, but (especially for our younger classes), distractions in your space could even disrupt other students in your class.
- Your student won’t need this space all day, but your family probably does! Consider giving him or her a checklist they can use to convert the space to a classroom and back again when they are finished.
- Try to adjust chair height, to the height of the table or desk, so that your student’s arms rest naturally on the work surface while sitting up straight.
- It is beneficial to be looking slightly downward computer screen and camera.
- Remember access to power, and find your chargers! Unless you have relatively new or powerful devices, don’t count on battery life lasting for an entire day of HCA@Home. Have your power bars and charger cords ready so you aren’t scrambling during class time.
Do you have multiple students in HCA@Home?
Except Grades 2 and under, all students will be participating in classes between 8:15 and 12:15. If your home has students in different classes, that means multiple, separate video calls at the same time! You’ll need to consider how they will affect each other.
If possible, have them work in separate rooms. If they are nearby to each other, have them use earbuds or headphones with built-in mics to reduce the noise each call makes in your house. Unless they speak very quietly, they will still be able to hear each other when they speak, which means the other’s classmates and teachers might be able to hear them too. Fortunately, good students spend more time listening than talking, so this should be minimal.
Prepare Your Time
Have a Routine
All Grades 3 through 12 students in HCA@Home have classes between 8:15am and 12:15pm. This compressed learning schedule gives our parents and students quite a bit of flexibility, but it does leave a substantial amount of time unallocated. Get creative with how to rearrange your days during the outbreak, but we encourage you to find a rhythm for your students and try to stick to it. This is one of the biggest factors that going to school provides for your students and is different with HCA@Home. Giving them an expectation that school days have a schedule at home will help them get the most from HCA@Home and the rest of their time as well.
For Middle and High School students, their best time to complete assignments and studying is certainly in the afternoon, because their teachers are available online. If they leave their work too late, they may miss out on that second explanation or clarifying question that can be so important to keeping up with their course.
We know that keeping a class schedule after a 3-week break is going to seem difficult. Even though you are not getting everyone ready to get out the door, nor are you commuting to campus, it will still take time to get your students out of bed, and get them prepared to start class at 8:15am. Once you receive your class schedule, consider using a timer or alerts in your calendar to be ready for each of the periods throughout the morning.
Talk about Screen Time
No matter how you handle internet use, screen time, content filtering, and supervision with your family, HCA@Home means that use of this technology is suddenly changing. Be proactive in how you set up expectations, boundaries, and supervision for your children’s safety as they ramp up their use of the internet at home.
Prepare Your Accounts
Get Logged In
Check that you know how to access your QuickSchools account. Continuing academic records will be published on QuickSchools and are accessible to parents, guardians, and High School students.
Set Up Google Apps
All Elementary Students will be receiving HCA Google Accounts. (Middle School and High School students already have these.) Please take some time to log in to these accounts before launch on Monday.
If for some reason, you don’t receive this by the end of the day on Friday, please contact us to raise the issue before Monday.
For students using a PC or Mac, install Google Chrome. Please use this browser for HCA@Home.
For students using a computer or Chromebook, Log In to GMail and bookmark Google Classroom, Google Calendar, Google Meet, and Google Chat.
On Google Classroom, check that you can see one or more courses (and if they are the right ones!)
On Google Calendar, you should see your online classes scheduled for you. (We’re still working on this, so don’t worry if you don’t see them all.)
For students using a smartphone or tablet, please free up some space on your device and install the Apps!
Do a Trial Run
For those of you who may have never joined an online meeting before… it’s free to give it a try! It’s a great time to be checking in with friends and relatives over the internet. See if you can set up a Google Meet call or a Google Chat to test how your internet connection will hold up. Not sure who to call? All your friends from HCA have Google Accounts too and are easy to find on Google Chat.
Prepare Supplies & Equipment
We’ve done a survey and contacted families directly to offer help for those needing additional equipment to participate in HCA@Home. Here are some nice-to-have things you might have around the house and could make available for your students:
- Do you have a printer? It might be worth stocking up on ink and paper, and seeing if you can connect the printer to the computer your student will be using. Course work for HCA@Home can be completed online, but many students find working on paper more effective when that is available.
- Does your printer scan documents? This might be a feature you have available, but have never needed to use. It’s time to look up the manual; you can do this!
- Ask your student’s teacher what other supplies might be helpful to equip your home with.
- Clean the lens. Whether a smartphone or tablet, computer, or webcam… use a slightly damp microfiber cloth to gently wipe clean the camera lens. You can clean your computer or tablet screen this way too, but be sure your cloth is not wet. You’ll be spending a lot of time with these devices, so taking care of them will pay off!
- For those using a laptop with a built-in trackpad or pointer, plug in a mouse! If you’ve got a computer mouse kicking around in a drawer somewhere, using that will be kinder to your fingers for lots of computer work.
- If using a laptop for online classes, find out if you have the option of running a network cable directly from your computer to your router. WiFi is great, but a wired connection will always do better for video.
- Do you have a way for your student to play calm or classical music? A practical step like this could go a long way towards improving their stamina for completing their assignments while working solo.
Prepare Your Patience
Finally, let’s all be prepared to be patient with one another next week (and beyond)!
Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love”
Consider what it might look like in your home to be literally prepared for unwanted interruptions, distractions, or glitches as we all dive into a new platform together. Are there specific strategies you could give your student for how to stay focused if they need to wait for a teacher or classmate?