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Supporting Documents for NC Foundations for Early Learning and Development Remote Learning Guide


North Carolina Foundations for Early Learning and Development:

Remote Learning Guide



Types of Remote Learning

Domains of Development and Remote Learning

Technical Aspects of Remote Learning

Family Engagement and Remote Learning

Social Emotional Development and Remote Learning

Resources Consulted in the Development of this Guide


Knowing that the purpose of North Carolina Foundations for Early Learning and Development is to supply a guide for teachers in providing age-appropriate goals and developmental indicators for all children no matter the program they are served in, the language they speak, the disabilities they have, or the family circumstance they may be growing up in (North Carolina Foundations Task Force, 2013, p. 2), the Remote Learning Guide to Foundations seeks to provide clarity for how teachers can continue to meet these intentions in an ever changing educational environment. Remote Learning is defined by circumstances in which the students and educator(s) are not physically present in a traditional classroom environment thus requiring information to be exchanged through alternative methods. These methods may include the use of technology (e.g. discussion boards, video conferencing, and online assessments, among others) as well as technology free methods including paper/pencil work samples or project based work.

In Early Childhood settings, remote learning must be thoroughly examined against what we already know to be best practices for young learners. Hands on, engaging, relevant, and concrete learning experiences continue to remain the instructional design that promotes the highest levels of engagement and successful learning outcomes for young children. How then, can this design be incorporated into a learning environment where the students and educators are not physically present in a traditional classroom setting? NC Foundations for Early Learning and Development supplies teachers with goals and indicators for each domain of development which describe expectations for what children will learn prior to kindergarten (North Carolina Foundations Task Force, 2013, p. 3). The In the Classroom: Foundations Unpacking Guide provides clarification for each domain, goal, and indicator within Foundations thus allowing the teacher to intentionally plan for and assess each child in order to obtain a comprehensive representation of the whole child.

In order to provide a remote learning environment where hands on, engaging, relevant, and concrete learning experiences prevail, educators of young learners will need to rely on supporting documents such as this one to guide their practice and ensure that optimal learning activities and environments are maintained as often as possible. While this guide is not exhaustive, it intends to provide a benchmark for where to begin.

Types of Remote Learning:

Within remote learning two types of delivery modes are often used: synchronous and asynchronous.

Synchronous Remote Learning

Synchronous delivery is often defined by an online event where the teacher and students all attend at the same time via computer/internet access. With young learners this often involves the use of an online video platform where the teacher can see the students and they can see him/her by logging into the platform for a session at a predetermined time. Teachers often guide and provide the instruction during a synchronous session.

Synchronous remote learning situations may include:

  • Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, etc.

  • Breakout sessions within a whole group session

  • 1:1, small group, whole class

  • Teacher is present and “live”

  • Teacher observation/assessment

  • Storytime/Literacy activities

  • Math/Science activities

  • Music/Movement activities

Asynchronous Remote Learning

Asynchronous delivery is defined by the teacher providing activities in which the child can engage independently from the teacher’s involvement. Additionally, materials necessary for completion are available at a time of their choosing. An adult caregiver often guides or provides the instruction during asynchronous learning while the teacher is more of a facilitator. Internet access and computer/device usage may or may not be required during delivery.

Asynchronous remote learning situations may include:

  • Pre-recorded videos that children view (e.g., Google Classroom, Class Dojo, Flipgrid)

  • Activity packets prepared by the teacher and completed at home with a caregiver or independently

  • Out of the home activities

  • Daily routines in the home

  • Caregiver capturing a learning experience (photo, video clip, etc.) to share with the teacher

  • Caregiver and child participating in an activity or learning experience together - 1:1

  • Storytime/Literacy/Math/Science activities

A note about Synchronous Delivery:

Synchronous delivery is unique in the fact that it allows the students and educators to be present with each other in a modified learning environment. While not physically in the same area, they are able to actually see and hear each other in real time thus allowing for many of the same types of interactions that often occur in typical classroom environments to happen in synchronous online settings. As such, teachers will note that many instructional strategies that are used in regular classroom situations are also appropriate for use in online synchronous settings/sessions. It is recognized that the level of instruction in a remote setting will not directly align with the teaching in a traditional, physical space and that some modifications/considerations will be necessary. Guidance for modifications and considerations can be found in the Technical Aspects of Remote Learning section of this guide.

Domains of Development and Remote Learning:

Foundations addresses the five domains of development that children are actively engaged in during the early years of their growth and learning.

None of the domains is more or less important than others, and there is some overlap between what is covered in one domain and what’s covered in other domains. This is because children’s development and learning is integrated or interrelated. The progress that a child makes in one domain is related to the progress he or she makes in other domains. (North Carolina Foundations Task Force, 2013, p. 3).

When considering remote learning for young children, whether synchronous or asynchronous, the domains of development need to be at the forefront of planning and attention. The development of the whole child will remain a much needed focus for children prior to entering Kindergarten and educators will want to be attuned to supporting those intricacies. Intentional planning and developmentally appropriate practice should be used with, and incorporated into, every learning activity with the child being the central focus. After using the In the Classroom: Foundations Unpacking Guide to consider how each goal and indicator can be used to meet developmental progressions, the following suggestions can be used in consideration of application to asynchronous remote learning.

Approaches to Play and Learning (APL)

  • Provide a probing question to find out more about something that typically piques a child’s interest (dinosaurs, animals, weather, etc.)

  • Encourage opportunities for children to share ideas and ask questions of one another

  • Share ideas of appropriate hands-on materials children can experiment with and experience (seeds, magnets, snow, etc.)

  • Encourage ample time for children to investigate and manipulate materials and ideas

  • Encourage opportunities for children to observe and measure plants as they grow

  • Encourage opportunities for students to observe and experience objects in the environment such as sink/float in water

  • Encourage the use of science tools such as magnifying glasses, rulers, scales, measuring cups, etc.

  • Encourage opportunities for students to experience the environment with all of their senses

Emotional and Social Development (ESD)

  • Provide a daily question to promote the positive development of self awareness and self expression

  • Provide weekly activity plans in home languages of students in the class

  • Supply daily or weekly relationship builders

  • Create a discussion topic on friendship for each day

  • Provide a weekly problem solving scenario to discuss

  • Supply a weekly vocabulary word focused on feelings

  • Provide storybooks about emotions, feelings, or social problems for a caregiver to read

  • Provide pictures of children’s faces with different expressions for caregivers to use in discussions

  • Create an emotion board so children can use it to express themselves

  • Provide a calming skill weekly for children to practice

  • Sample Plan

Health and Physical Development (HPD)

  • Provide suggestions for a variety of healthy food choices and encourage children to make new food choices each week

  • Support the provision of healthy snacks daily through the school nutrition program

  • Provide examples of foods and beverages that help build healthy bodies

  • Suggest that caregivers provide extended periods of time playing vigorously

  • Provide structured and unstructured motor activities that build strength, speed, flexibility and coordination

  • Provide details for transitions from active to quiet activities

  • Provide opportunities for coordinated movement of upper and lower body daily/weekly

  • Provide a list of activities that improve strength, dexterity of small muscles, and hand-eye coordination (e.g., cutting, tonging, tweezing and stringing beads)

  • Provide a list of tools and materials that improve strength and dexterity of small muscles for children to practice with at home (e.g., spray bottles, hole punch, tweezers)

  • Provide models of good health practices and suggested conversation starters for caregivers to use with children (e.g., using face covering to prevent spread of germs, washing hands to get rid of germs, drinking milk to build strong bones)

  • Provide safety rules and expectations for various environments so caregivers can discuss with children

Language Development and Communication (LDC)

  • Furnish a daily conversation starter

  • Provide a daily vocabulary word for caregivers to use with the child

  • Create a daily question that requires the child to describe something

  • Deliver a sequence of 2-3 step directions daily for the child to follow

  • Supply books from the classroom for the child to use in the home learning environment

  • Create a phonological awareness game at least weekly for the caregiver to play with the child

  • Furnish a daily/weekly alphabet activity

  • Create an opportunity for daily writing

  • Sample Plan

Cognitive Development (CD)

  • Provide opportunities for children to explore the environment using their senses

  • Provide opportunities for grouping, matching, sequencing, and organizing information

  • Create activities that allow children to make predictions and explain outcomes

  • Supply pretend play scenarios that can be used in the home environment and the language starters to get them going (e.g., “Let’s pretend we’re pirates and we are sailing on the ocean.”)

  • Suggest a daily or weekly activity for creative expression (e.g., Art, Music, Movement, Dance). Provide caregivers the needed materials and supporting directions, questions, and vocabulary.

  • Expose children to multicultural content through various mediums by providing books, artwork, music, and other appropriate materials for engagement and discussion

  • Suggest activities that focus on families and communities. Provide a weekly family activity or suggestion for learning more about the local community (e.g., walk/drive around to see what buildings are there, collect books to donate, invite children to describe their families)

  • Provide real life math activities that allow children to practice rote counting, subitizing small quantities, using one-to-one correspondence, comparing quantities, matching numerals to sets, writing numerals, and showing understanding of ordinality (e.g., which sibling in your family was born first or last)

  • Supply materials and activities for children to practice measurement concepts including the language of measurement (short, tall, long, heavy, big), comparison, and sorting objects by attributes

  • Provide activities that build understanding of positional words

  • Provide activities for identifying, describing, and comparing 2 and 3-dimensional shapes

  • Provide question starters for children to explain how a mathematical problem was solved (“How will you know how many plates to put out at the table for lunch?”)

  • Provide a weekly science topic with related activities and seek to integrate the activity with other areas where possible (e.g., go on a nature walk and then sort items collected, read books about birds and then go on a bird hunt to count how many birds you see).

Technical Aspects of Remote Learning:

Knowing your digital platform well is a critical component to remote learning. It is strongly encouraged that you practice with other teachers prior to any live sessions. View the platform from the perspective of the teacher and the student. How far away is the video camera? How does it look? How does it sound? As the ‘host’ of a session you can normally override the selection of a participant, and this might be necessary. Can you quickly turn a student’s video camera off? Become familiar with the features of your platform and decide which features you’d like to make accessible to students and which features you might simply disable.

Just as during in-person instruction, during remote instruction teachers must spend many days and weeks teaching students the classroom expectations. Students’ awareness of teacher expectations are essential to online classroom management (e.g., video and audio, questions, or need to use the bathroom).

Platform Settings:

  • Video conferencing tools are dependent upon the use of a camera lens. Lenses invert the image being viewed, some platforms will automatically turn ‘mirroring’ off and others do not. Teachers should be sure to check the settings within their specific platform to be sure that ‘mirroring’ is off. This will be especially important when tracking print in reading with students, teaching spatial words, or writing letters/numbers on a whiteboard.

  • Become familiar with the ‘mute’ and ‘unmute’ buttons. Research has shown that when conducting a whole group session, teachers will most likely need to mute all students. However, unmuting students will be necessary when you’d like a response from a particular student.

  • Allowing the ‘video’ or ‘camera’ option for students is another important aspect that teachers should become familiar. Although teachers may want to encourage students to keep their cameras on, preschoolers and family environments can be unpredictable and teachers might need to quickly turn a camera off.

Using Platform Features:

All digital platforms have features that are intended to make the remote environment more enjoyable and user friendly. Practicing these features and determining if they are developmentally appropriate to use with students is critical. Students need to know the class expectations regarding the platform features. As the ‘host’ of a session a teacher can normally override the selection of a participant.

  • With some practice the chat box feature can be used by preschool students. This feature might be used as children are learning to identify letters or numbers and can be shared between the student and the teacher. Again, it is determined by the ‘host’ of a session if the ‘chat’ feature is used and who can view the chat.

  • Some features of a digital platform are not recommended at the preschool level. Although student discussion and collaboration is valued’ break-out sessions’ can be difficult to monitor and might not achieve similar results as in the face-to-face environment. It is encouraged that teachers use small-group sessions, 2 - 4 students, in order to facilitate a pair-share environment.

Sharing a slide-show with editing privileges to students can create an interactive environment. For example, a slide with jumbled letters of the alphabet (all or some) can be used to have students find the letters of their name and move them from ‘below’ a line to ‘above’.


Teacher’s Environment -

Attention should be given to the environment that the teacher creates for her synchronous remote learning sessions. Teachers and educators will want to determine what type of setting they need to create for themselves and their students in order to be successful. A few factors for deliberation may include:

  • Where will live sessions be held (e.g., the classroom, a room in the teacher’s home)?

  • What items will be seen in the background behind the teacher?

  • What is the noise level in the area near the teacher?

  • How much space will the teacher need to move around during live sessions?

  • What essential items must the teacher have available for all sessions (e.g., whiteboard, index cards, pointer, chart paper).

Child’s Environment -

Likewise, reflection on the environment the child will be in during synchronous remote sessions is needed. While the teacher cannot ultimately control things in the child’s environment, they can offer encouragement and ideas to promote an environment that is most conducive to a worthwhile remote learning experience. A few ideas for suggestion may include:

  • Minimize distractions in the immediate room as much as possible

  • Have the child wear headphones/earbuds

  • Ensure parents know that the computer microphone picks up background noise, conversations, and the TV

  • Ensure that parents know the computer camera picks up more than just the child’s face (can see background activity and images)

  • Encourage parents to have basic materials that may be needed close by (pencil, crayons, markers, paper, etc.)

Group Size:

Within a typical early childhood classroom setting, group size varies from as few as five to as many as eighteen children with two adults. Throughout a typical instructional day groupings of children will fluctuate from whole group, small group, and 1:1 depending upon the type of activity in which children are engaged. In remote learning, the group size must be considered as there are many factors that affect the student’s immediate environment. For Pre-K synchronous remote learning sessions, it is recommended that group size be kept small with no more than four children at one time. Smaller group sizes are acceptable and may be needed in order to best meet the needs of each child. Whole/large group synchronous remote learning sessions should be used sparingly in Pre-K as the number of children participating combined with typical preschooler behavior could make for a more challenging learning environment (e.g., shouting out, talking over others/out of turn, too many people and child shuts down, multiple children who have to be monitored/muted by the teacher onscreen). In order to allow children to interact with all of their classmates remotely, it is recommended that synchronous small groups be changed up periodically. This will allow children to get to know different classmates over time. For asynchronous work in Pre-K, it is recommended that the work be done 1:1 with the child and a caregiver who can provide assistance and support as needed.

Time Expectations:

The amount of time children are expected to engage in learning activities in remote settings should differ from what is expected in traditional environments. Remote learning will not support the structure and routine that occurs in typical classroom settings. Decades of medical research shows that young children have the capacity to stay focused for 5-10 minutes before needing a break. Therefore, teachers will need to plan accordingly when providing learning activities either synchronously or asynchronously. It is acceptable to provide a suggested schedule for children and caregivers that focuses more on daily learning activities rather than quantities of time spent on each activity. Educators should convey that flexibility is central to remote learning success. Breaking activities into smaller chunks of time throughout the day will prove more beneficial for young children than trying to insist on participation in a 20-30 minute continuous synchronous session.


When planning for remote learning with young children, developmentally appropriate practice must remain at the forefront of learning experiences. Hands on and highly engaging activities should align with developmental progressions, skills, and research based strategies for young learners. Consideration must be given on how to meet each child’s unique learning needs while providing opportunities to promote their growth, development, and natural strengths. Collaboration among education support professionals will continue to provide the most comprehensive services to all children. It is recommended to include librarians, physical education teachers, music teachers, art teachers, guidance counselors, and other virtual visitors and paraprofessionals as often as possible. This collaboration will support the development of the whole child along with providing natural opportunities for transitions towards Kindergarten.

Teachers must anticipate and plan for materials needed in remote learning just as they would in typical settings. Consideration will need to be given to what materials are readily available for use in the home and what can be provided by the teacher or school. Flexibility with the use of materials will be beneficial as it will allow for ease of access to the learning activities no matter what the child is using.

Teachers consistently plan for instruction as part of their routine work, giving thought and consideration to what skills and developmental progressions are appropriate for growth and success at particular points in time. This type of intentionality will be paramount in planning for remote instruction. Given that remote instruction often involves condensed periods of time spent in live interactions with a teacher, purposeful planning and strategizing for developmental progressions and skills to prioritize will be essential. Foundations and In the Classroom: Foundations Unpacking Guide provide a starting point for the focused planning that teachers can engage in prior to hosting and sharing remote learning activities.


As remote learning is implemented and evolves, equity for all learners must be consistently scrutinized. Access is perhaps the most basic of equity issues with remote learning, and must be addressed. Primary questions for this focus are:

  • Do young children have access to the early learning materials and resources needed for remote learning to be successful?

  • Can schools and educators provide access to the basic materials for high quality early learning in remote environments (e.g., devices, internet access, typical school supplies, books, play based learning materials such as puppets, building materials, pretend play items, art supplies)?

If the answer to these questions is no or is unknown, what then will be the plan for providing access to the resources and materials that promote high quality early learning and alignment to developmental progressions within remote learning environments?

Student choice and collaboration are additional issues of equity that must be consistently examined to ensure that the learning needs of all students are being met, thus providing personalized learning. Knowing that all students do not learn in the same ways, approach learning with the same types of prior knowledge, nor do they bring the same skill strengths to the learning environment, it is imperative that teachers and educators prepare for and allow students to have opportunities for both choice and collaboration in learning activities. Reflection on prior experiences in typical classroom environments may provide guidance on pathways to adapt or modify learning experiences in remote settings that still promote and allow for choice and collaboration among students. Virtual playtime is one possibility to allow for student choice and collaboration. With virtual playtime, the teacher arranges a synchronous meeting time via a platform that allows for small groups of 2-3 students to come together virtually and play. Students can bring their own toys or bring items pre-determined by the teacher if the teacher is aware of a common interest among the group. The teacher can start the session if needed by suggesting play interactions or this may not be needed. Once the play is going, the teacher can observe how the students engage and collaborate during the play, stepping in to provide support as needed.

Feedback on Student Work:

Descriptive feedback is specific, timely, and based on the learning target and criteria for success. Descriptive feedback helps students learn by providing information about their current achievement (Where am I now?) with respect to a goal (Where am I going?) and identifying appropriate next steps (How can I close the gap?) (Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis & Chappuis, 2004, Sadler, 1989). Descriptive feedback provided during the formative assessment process helps to improve learning while that learning is occurring or evolving (Heritage, 2010). In fact, it is considered the most powerful tool for improving students’ learning (Black, Harrison, Lee, and Wiliam, 2004), with great positive effects on student learning and engagement (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). Teachers use a variety of data to better understand what their students know and are able to do. When evidence is generated, the teacher interprets the evidence and locates the student’s current skills, abilities, and knowledge along a continuum of development. This allows the teacher to adapt and respond to the learning needs of the student and adjust the learning targets as appropriate.

Once the teacher interprets the evidence(s) and identifies a current learning placement, the teacher adapts and responds to the learner’s needs accordingly. The teacher makes quick adjustments to instruction based on the interpretation of evidence in-the-moment and/or within a series of lessons. In addition, the teacher provides descriptive feedback to students that is not graded or evaluative and aligns with the criteria for success when meeting an identified learning target. Rather than a score or a grade, descriptive feedback is provided in the form of ideas, strategies, and tasks the student can use to move from the current performance towards the identified learning target (Heritage, 2010). Feedback provides information to students and teachers about learning. It helps to reduce the gap between the student’s current level of understanding and/or performance and a desired goal.

Feedback can have a significant impact on learning, but this impact can be positive or negative depending on the type, delivery, and timing of the feedback (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). Evaluative feedback, (e.g., percentage marks, letter grades) and frequent evaluation can have a negative impact on learning and motivation (Tunstall & Gipps, 1996, Black & Wiliam, 1998). Even praise, when focused on characteristics of the learner rather than on the characteristics of the work, can have the opposite of the intended effect (Dweck, 2007). Chappuis (2009) emphasizes the importance of directing praise to the characteristics of the student’s work or performance, rather than to the characteristics of the student.

“Praise can have a negative effect on learning because it directs students’ attention away from the learning and onto what the teacher thinks of them: “The teacher thinks I’m smart/not smart.” “The teacher likes me/doesn’t like me.” “ … Work-related feedback does a much better job of developing students’ belief that effort will lead to success.” (p. 63)

Effective feedback helps students to improve their learning by providing them with specific information on what needs improvement and how to proceed. Teachers can help students become increasingly less dependent on external sources of feedback (from teachers and peers), and gradually become more autonomous (self-assessment). By teaching students how to develop descriptive feedback based on learning goals and success criteria, teachers promote students’ ability to monitor their own progress, determine next steps, and set appropriate goals.

A note about assessment and Remote Learning:

With early education, formative assessment has proven to be the most appropriate type of assessment because young children’s development is highly complex, dynamic, and often erratic and uneven (Ackerman & Coley, 2012). The formative assessment process allows teachers to observe and gather information on what children know and can do over time. Teachers should then use this information to guide their planning for instruction in response to student needs. Formative Assessment is not standardized and should not be used to make high stakes decisions. It does not take time away from learning and exploring, it embraces play and exploration (Bohart & Procopio, 2018). Therefore, formative assessment is both valid and authentic. Authentic assessment should be practically invisible to the child as it happens during the course of natural and developmentally appropriate learning contexts.

With remote learning, multiple challenges arise with assessment for all ages of learners. Specific to preschool aged children, the formative assessment process can be difficult to manage in remote settings but it is not impossible. By thinking proactively, teachers can create opportunities to modify the formative assessment process. A few ideas to explore may include:

  • Setting up virtual play sessions where you can observe children interact via screen time

  • Asking for caregiver support in recording brief videos of play sessions or engagement in an activity to share with the teacher so they can observe/watch the recording

  • Setting up a synchronous virtual session for specific learning activities/skills and recording it so you as the teacher can watch it later to observe and capture documentation

  • Hosting a “Hang Out” synchronous meeting with no specific purpose other than to engage in conversations and observe children talk with each other

Family Engagement and Remote Learning:

Systematic Approach for Communicating with Families:

Having a plan that is shared with families is a first-step in building a systematic approach for communicating effectively in the remote learning environment. Think about ways to communicate daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly in a variety of modalities (e.g., digital and/or print) that works best for families. Using various types of social media to communicate whether Twitter blasts, YouTube channels, or Facebook Live, are important secondary methods of communicating the same information that is shared on a website or email, yet in a more quickly and easily communicated format.

An electronic weekly Family Guide may be useful to let students and families know what went well during the week. Include specific examples when highlighting the good news. Children can contribute ideas to include in the weekly guide. Additionally, this guide can include expectations for the week ahead. In this guide, offer office hours so families can connect and have more personalized support. Consider including information in the weekly guide about a Virtual Spirit Week where children can dress to reflect a specific theme. Some examples of themes include: pajama day, crazy hair day, patriotic day or hat day. These themes may inspire and motivate children and families while managing remote learning at home.

Friday Wrap Up is another opportunity to engage and motivate children and families to reflect on the week of learning and share a celebration or highlight of the week. During Friday Wrap Up, the week's events may be captured in photos, videos, and podcasts. Again, engaging families in a variety of ways ensures that every family can participate fully in the remote learning experience. Interconnecting all of these communication methods ensures that the same message is being sent through multiple online platforms, where parents are more likely to get the message. As communication protocols are established and implemented, ask families for feedback about the effectiveness of the communication protocols and use that to adjust and best meet the needs of the families you serve.

Schedule Consistent Communications Accessible to All Families:

Building relationships and trust through regular ongoing communications with families is critical to creating effective partnerships. Regularly engaging with families and students via phone calls, texts, video, social media, or email, to celebrate successes and/or help address the challenges and needs of students and families will support the partnership. Identify a specific day and time each week to send consistent communications to families. Providing this consistent communication that families can depend upon for outreach and connection on a regular basis can improve the success of the remote learning experience for all.

Prioritize and schedule time to communicate with students and families who are not engaging in learning. Engage families both with their child and separately. Maintain records of regular communications about attendance, learning expectations, and each child’s progress. Ensure access to Special Education services, English Language Learner support, and additional services that engage and support the unique needs of each family are available. Communicating through an interpreter and providing translated materials in the primary home language enables all families access to the supports needed.

Video Communications:

Providing a video to introduce yourself to families can help families become familiar with your voice and feel more comfortable as the learning progresses. Some teachers send a daily morning video just to check-in with students/families and prepare them for the day’s assignments. Families who feel this kind of support from the teacher will be much more likely to be ready to help their child(ren) engage in remote learning.

Using videos to communicate the weekly learning goals with families and provide updates that apply to all the students is an intentional way to provide regular communication to families. These self-recorded videos can be embedded in an email or posted on a website, and can include a humorous and approachable tone or a fun family challenge to help support both the mental and emotional health of families.

Coaching Sessions:

Parents and caregivers may feel challenged with the additional responsibilities of helping support their child’s learning during remote instruction. As a result, consider offering coaching support to frustrated family members who are trying to help children learn at home. Providing coaching to parents and caregivers on leading instructional activities and on how to support learning through daily routines can be useful. This coaching can be done in parent/child sessions or during parent only sessions. For parent/child sessions, schedule a time to meet with the family during a daily routine of their choice via a video chat platform. While the teacher observes, the family will engage in their routine as usual. The teacher can “chime in” as necessary to provide feedback and guidance to the caregivers on skills and strategies that the child may need to work on as part of an IEP or an area of focus. With leading instructional videos, record a video of instruction on a concept, and send the video directly to the family member being coached. Teachers can also use coaching sessions to remind families that it is important to keep the focus on the emotional well-being of everyone involved, and if the stress is too much for anyone on the team, then stop and take a break or ask for additional help.

When coaching families, define the big picture or the scope of the learning for the school year. Share the grade level expectations in curriculum guides or units of study that can help families better understand the learning expectations for the school year. This broad scope can keep families focused on long-range outcomes.

Coaching sessions are targeted ways to share learning goals and objectives, share instructional strategies and provide resources. Allow families the flexibility to determine the resources and tools that are best suited to their child(ren). Families are making accommodations for learning at home, so coaching sessions for families are another way to connect and give needed support to parents and guardians who may be overwhelmed.

Educate Families on Ways to Support Remote Learning at Home:

For some families, it may be useful to have guidance on how to create an environment in the home that is conducive to remote learning. Each family's living environment is unique, and it is important for teachers to have flexibility and acceptance of this diversity. Establishing a designated space in the home for the child to set-up a device and to equip the space with appropriate learning tools that are easily accessible can help the child engage effectively. Providing families with a checklist of school supplies, suggesting a schedule for remote learning, and ensuring two-way communication are keys to success.

As children are learning remotely, parents and caregivers may benefit from being provided strategies to incorporate into family routines and for engaging children in the learning. Encourage families to give the child a voice in their daily schedule. Children may contribute ideas for taking learning breaks at home. Let families know that it is both necessary and helpful for children to take learning breaks throughout the day.

Empower families with information about building routines for remote learning. Keeping routines and daily rituals fosters better self-management along with personal and academic success. Help families create a daily schedule that is posted for all family members to observe. Family members need to understand that children will need modeling and reminders in order to stick to a daily schedule. Ensure that learning breaks are integrated into the daily schedule. Help families plan to use sticky notes to post deadlines and reminders of learning tasks to accomplish. Let families know that strategies like this will help foster better self-management in their child(ren).

A partnership between educators and families supports a student’s learning and growth. The shared responsibility for student outcomes and having a voice in the child’s education is more prominent in remote learning. Thus, with the shift to remote learning, engaging students’ families is perhaps more critical as families are central to supporting instruction with their child(ren). It is vital for families to feel engaged and confident that they have access to the teacher who is there to help them when needed.

Social Emotional Development and Remote Learning:

“Addressing Social Emotional Learning is not optional, it is critical to supporting our students and their learning” (NC State, Friday Institute for Educational Innovation & Public Schools of NC, State Board of Education, Department of Public Instruction, 2020, p. 5). The preschool experience supports many of the foundational pieces to building strong social-emotional skills. We know that self awareness, social awareness, and relationship skills begin to become more important during the preschool years. This is certainly true if the child is involved in a group learning experience of same aged peers. Helping students to develop a deeper awareness of feelings and the vocabulary used to describe those feelings is a key aspect along with learning how to solve problems and develop friendships.

“The foundational element for emotional literacy development is a supportive environment” (Joseph & Strain, 2003, p.18 ). The preschool learning experience must build upon this critical factor. Children thrive when they feel safe, supported, and have strong bonds with the adults in their lives. “Remote learning and the use of technology should be a means to build healthy relationships and positive learning environments between children, their adult caregivers, and their teachers” (National P-3 Center, 2020). Developing a plan to intentionally teach and address social emotional skills in remote learning environments will ensure they are not overlooked.

Consideration can be given to:

  • Planning time weekly to meet 1:1 with students to build relationships

  • Ensuring there is an opportunity for the entire class to meet periodically so all classmates may engage with one another

  • Integrating purposeful instruction of social-emotional skills (through read alouds, problem solving, discussions, etc.) on a consistent basis

  • CASEL’s Three Signature Practices Framework used in remote sessions can help to systematically incorporate inclusion, emotional literacy, and skill building.

  • Observing for and noticing the child’s online learning environment and how you can make connections with them as a result (ex.: dog barks in the background and you take a note to ask them about their dog the next time you meet/talk)

As educators, we must remember that children’s development in this domain affects their development in every other domain (NC Foundations Task Force, 2013). While remote learning has the potential to create barriers to social emotional development, it does not prevent it from occurring altogether. With creativity and purpose young children can be provided with enriching opportunities to develop social and emotional skills while learning in non-traditional settings. Children and adults alike are known to benefit from the work of social emotional learning. It is worthwhile for educators to undertake the processes involved in creating novel ways to build relationships, model empathy and kindness, and thus enrich students' lives in spite of the modality or delivery method in which children receive the instruction.

Helpful 3 Signature Practices Resources:

Additional SEL Resources

Resources Consulted in the Development of this Guide:

Ackerman, D., & Coley, R. (2012). State pre-k assessment policies: Issues and status. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & Wiliam, D. (2004). Working inside the black box: Assessment for learning in the classroom. Phi Delta Kappan, 86(1), 9–22. doi:10.1177/003172170408600105.

Black, P. & Wiliam, D. (1998). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. London: King’s College.

Bohart, H., & Procopio, R. (2018). Spotlight on young children: Observation and assessment. National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Chappuis, J. (2009). Seven strategies of assessment for learning. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Dweck, C.S. (2007). The secret to raising smart kids. Scientific American: Mind. December/January, 36-43.

Hattie & Timperley (2007) The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research (Vol 77, No1).

Heritage, M. (2010). Formative Assessment: Making It Happen in the Classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Joseph, G.E., & Strain, P. S. (2003). Enhancing emotional vocabulary in young children. Young Exceptional Children, 6(4), 18-26.

NC Foundations Task Force. (2013). North Carolina foundations for early learning and development. Raleigh: Author.

NC State, Friday Institute for Educational Innovation & Public Schools of North Carolina, State Board of Education, Department of Public Instruction. (2020). Instructional design principles for remote teaching and learning. Raleigh, NC: Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. Retrieved from:

Sadler, D. R. (1989). Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems. Instructional Science, 18, 119–144.

Stiggins, R. J., Arter, J., Chappuis, J., & Chappuis, S. (2004). Classroom assessment for student learning: Doing it right—using it well. Portland, OR: Assessment Training Institute.

Tunstall, P., & Gipps, C. (1996). Teacher feedback to young children in formative assessment: A typology. British Educational Research Journal, 22(4), 389-404.

University of Colorado, School of Education & Human Development, National P-3 Center. (2020). At-home teaching and learning in prek-3rd grade. Denver, CO: National P-3 Center. Retrieved from: