Distance Learning in the Elementary School

By the beginning of April, 1.5 billion learners around the world had been affected by school closures caused by the new Coronavirus, COVID-19.

Teaching April 9, 2020

Are you among the thousands of teachers abruptly separated from your students? By the beginning of April, 1.5 billion learners around the world had been affected by school closures caused by the new Coronavirus, COVID-19 (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). What can you do to help ease the transition to distance learning for both you and your students? Here are tips from Adventist elementary educators in the North American Division.

For Planning

  • Keep it simple! Do not try to make every lesson and assignment as long or in-depth as it would be in the classroom.
  • Platforms such as Google Classroom, Edmodo, or a classroom blog are great ways to stay organized with announcements and assignments. Videos and outside resources can be linked.
  • Recording a video of yourself teaching each day’s lesson can be especially helpful in subjects such as Math and English.
  • There are a plenty of great online resources out there right now, but focus first on your individual students and their needs. Create a foundation for how your distance learning will work, then add in the extras as you are able to.
  • Decide how you will evaluate student work. If giving and receiving packets each week isn’t an option, will families need to email completed work? Take a picture to text to you? Consider limiting how many assignments you ask for back to those most crucial, and do the honor system for the rest.
  • Utilize learning programs such as Spelling City that allow you to monitor progress virtually. Check here for subscriptions covered in the North American Division.
  • Brainstorm ways to reach students who do not have access to online materials. Can your school lend a device or arrange a donation to boost internet speed?

Regarding Expectations

  • Remember many parents are juggling work and caring for their children, and may also be experiencing stress related to health and finances. Some students may be unable to do schoolwork during the day while being cared for outside of the home. Other families prefer more work to keep their kids busy. Be flexible.
  • Consider planning no new assignments for Fridays, allowing students to redo work, providing optional assignments, or letting parents know which subjects to prioritize if they cannot get to everything.
  • Give yourself grace as well. This is new and not what you signed up for! There will be a learning curve.
  • Check with your local administration about changes in tuition or grading policies so you know how to answer parents or whom to refer them to.

To Stay Connected

  • Retain parts of the daily routine if possible. Record a morning update with worship thought. If your students enjoy a read aloud during lunch at school, provide a video for them to continue this at home, as in the photograph.
  • Remember birthdays and other special events.
  • Ask your principal, class volunteers, pastors, or others to record themselves sharing stories and messages for your students.
  • Host regular virtual meetings so your students can hear and see each other as well as you. Zoom is a popular option. Students without internet access can participate by phone. Retain that Christian family feel within your class and larger student body. Stay connected as a staff as well.
  • Encourage students and families to contact you by phone, text, email, or whatever works in your situation. Make sure they know you are available if they have a question, need someone to pray with, or just want to update you on their progress.
  • As a staff, continue whole school communication through your existing channels such as Facebook, Bloomz, or email.

Above all, remember you have been called to represent Christ to these children. Let them know you are praying for them and their families. Seeing you continue to believe in them, value their education, and trust in God provides stability. We serve a mighty God. Nothing, pandemics included, can separate us from His love!

Thank you to contributing teachers Carol Bovee, Cara Kirk, Lori Rusek, and Kelli Sterling.

Additional Resources


Heather Enders

Enders currently serves as the resource manager for the Curriculum and Instruction Resource Center Linking Educators (CIRCLE). Her experience includes teaching middle school in Washington, USA, as well as a taskforce year assisting in a one-room school in rural Idaho, USA.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *