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Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
The Apple Watch is a stellar smartwatch, seamlessly melding style with functionality. While the Series 7 and Series 8 now feature faster-charging capabilities, one mark against the entire series remains the weak battery life. Apple claims that the watches should go for 18 hours between charges, but what should you do if your Apple Watch drains its battery too fast? We’ve got some answers below.
There could be multiple reasons why your Apple Watch is dying so fast. If it’s an older model, it may be due to the age of its components. Newer models could have a pairing or software update issue. Adjusting your settings can extend your Apple Watch’s battery life.
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Why is my Apple Watch dying so quickly?
Tips for improving Apple Watch battery life
Why is my Apple Watch dying so quickly?
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
The Apple Watch is by no means the longest-lasting smartwatch, but if it drains within hours, there are bigger problems at play. There’s no single answer to this, but these problems are usually simple.Software update
Apple suggests checking for new software upgrades regularly. We’d recommend only upgrading to the latest software a few days after release once it’s clear that the software is mainly bug-free. Keep abreast of software updates and the changelog for battery and efficiency improvements.Pairing issues
Believe it or not, your Apple Watch will require more power if it struggles to hold a connection or is disconnected from your iPhone. Try re-pairing the watch with your phone if this seems to be an issue. Additionally, be sure to keep Bluetooth activated on your iPhone.Age
New devices don’t perform as well as when fresh out of the box. This is especially true for batteries. Depending on your Apple Watch’s age, the device’s battery might be nearing the end of its useful life. You can likely have it replaced by Apple, but upgrading to a newer Apple Watch is arguably more viable.Atmospheric conditions
Batteries don’t operate well when they’re too hot or too cold. If you’re in a particularly frigid or hot region or keep your watch in direct sunlight, your climactic conditions could decrease your Apple Watch’s battery life. Apple suggests keeping the watch “in ambient temperatures between 32°F to 95°F (0°C and 35°C).”
Apple suggests switching off the heart rate monitor during workouts to maximize battery life. It’s an odd suggestion and will reduce the accuracy of your calorie counts, but it’s worth considering if you struggle to make it through a jog.
The display is among the biggest battery drains on modern devices, and that’s no less true on the Apple Watch. Consider decreasing the display’s brightness, disabling the always-on display, and decreasing the wake screen time.
Additionally, disabling the wrist-wake gesture will ensure your Apple Watch’s screen doesn’t randomly light up when unneeded.
On older watches, you should consider disabling watchOS animations. This will remove some eye candy, but it will put less stress on the watch’s hardware and battery.
You can also disable apps from running in the background to reduce power usage further.
Press the side button on the Apple Watch, then use the digital crown to scroll through apps. Select an app to close by swiping on it from right to left and hitting the red close button to kill it.
If none of these solutions fix your problem, your battery issue could be a symptom of a bigger hardware problem. Consider contacting Apple directly. We list other Apple Watch problems and solutions in our dedicated guide.
Apple Watch battery drain could be down to several factors. These may include the age of the device, the atmospheric conditions, the software your watch is running, and the activated settings.
You can check the overall health of your Apple Watch battery by opening the Settings app on your watch, selecting Battery, then tapping Battery Health.
If you own the Apple Watch Series 8 or Apple Watch SE 2, your battery should last for at least 18 hours between charges. The Apple Watch Ultra can go up to 36 hours on a single charge.
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Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
Few things are confirmed about the legendary Apple Car beyond it being some sort of large-scale automotive project. As usual, the iPhone maker is being as secretive as possible — yet there have been far too many reported hires, deals, and other developments for its auto work to be purely experimental. Here’s what you need to know to get up to speed with the Apple Car.
Also read: Green Authority — The best electric motorcycles you can get
How much will the Apple Car cost?
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
No one can say. Apple is likely years away from finalizing a design. We do know that EVs are costlier than gas guzzlers, and that vehicles with self-driving tech are even more expensive. While the margins for EV production are bound to come down as the industry transitions, it’s hard to imagine an Apple Car cheaper than the Tesla Model 3, which starts just under $40,000 without government incentives. You can get EVs for less — a barebones trim of the Nissan Leaf starts a little over $27,000 — but Apple won’t want to be seen as a budget pick.
If Apple focuses on its usual “premium” market, prices could rise even higher. For reference, adding a self-driving package to the Model 3 raises its price tag by $10,000, and you’re looking at another $10,000 if you want to boost range from 262 miles to 353. Apple will probably want to avoid the wallet-shredding costs of luxury EVs like the Tesla Model S or Porsche Taycan.
When will the Apple Car go on sale?
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
In late 2023, well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecast a launch sometime between 2025 and 2027, assuming full-scale development was already underway, according to AppleInsider. He cautioned though that the car could arrive in 2028 or later, depending on changes in the EV market and self-driving tech, which might force Apple to adapt. Bloomberg backed up this idea with a report in November 2023, claiming that while Apple is aiming for 2025, Titan insiders are skeptical about avoiding delays.
All predictions should be treated skeptically until Apple makes an announcement. There was a point — around 2023 — when publications like the Wall Street Journal were rumoring a launch as soon as 2023 or 2023. That would’ve required the project to fire on all cylinders, and even then many people (rightly) thought those dates were too optimistic.
All predictions should be treated skeptically until Apple makes an announcement.
Sure enough, the company has run into many stumbling blocks, including not just layoffs and refocusing, but multiple leadership swaps. Steve Zadesky, one of the project’s originators, left in January 2023 (Reuters). The most recent departure was Doug Field, who in September 2023 seized an opportunity with Ford (Macrumors). Apple software executive Kevin Lynch, best known for shepherding the Apple Watch, has since taken the project’s helm, Bloomberg says.
The bottom line
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
There are a lot of unanswered questions beyond the ones we’ve raised. What sort of OS will the Apple Car run? Will it have a windshield display, given Apple’s interest in augmented reality? How far and fast will it go?
Also read: Green Authority — 10 of the best electric skateboards you can buy in 2023
The bottom line is that while development seems to be picking up, Apple is still getting its ducks in a row, which means it’s too early to be talking about specs, prices, or dates with any confidence. What we do know could flip on a dime. The company could decide to scale back its ambitions, for example offering a self-driving platform for the big automakers. Or it could scrap its investment entirely — but with the rhetoric out of people like Cook, it sounds like we should expect something in the next few years.
Many might call Apple Watch an expensive accessory. And I won’t totally deny that, but add that it’s absolutely worth it. How? And why exactly should you buy an Apple Watch? Well, let me serve you with not just one but nine reasons to buy an Apple Watch.
1. It keeps with time
Well, that’s a given, right? Apple Watch helps you keep a watch over current time. And thanks to features like Always-On display (Series 5 and later) or Raise to Wake, you can observe the time and other complications without wasting time.
What’s great is that you get a variety of Apple Watch faces, everything from minimal, utilitarian infographics to portrait photos. Moreover, you can add complications that tell time, weather, or even the moon’s phases, basically customize these faces as per your taste and requirement.
And if that’s not incentive enough, you can also instruct the faces to automatically change based on time or location. So, you can have a workout-centric face for the gym, a focus-centric for the office, and a chill-toned-down version for home/vacation.Alarm, reminders, timers, and more
Apple Watch has almost every feature you’ll require from a time-piece. It can double as a stopwatch, kitchen or workout timer, birthday, anniversary, meeting reminder, etc. You also get a handwash timer to ensure you washed your hands for the appropriate time.
So, whether it’s 6 am or 9 pm, the Apple Watch is always helpful, from waking you up to reminding you to go to sleep.
2. It keeps you connected
Unless going through a digital, social, or communicative detox, we all like to stay updated. Yes, the frequency might differ from person to person, but we’ve gotten into checking our phones regularly.
And Apple Watch (especially the cellular version) gives you all the benefits of staying connected without the compulsion of lugging your phone all the time. I am not saying that you can lock your phone in a cupboard and go holidaying.
You can lock it in a gym or club’s locker and continue with your activities without missing anything urgent. And it’s not all just work. You can use Apple Watch to track your activities, listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, get directions and make or receive calls or texts.
And the connection isn’t limited to your circle of devices. Between Family Setup and Activity Sharing, you can stay connected with your friends and family (more on this later).
3. It keeps up with your healthMust know Apple Watch health features
Here, I demand your permission to look at these features from a bird’s eye view. Because if I dig deep, this would be an even longer (read: never-ending) article. You can check out Apple’s healthcare page or the detailed guide linked to the features to know more.Activity tracking and workout
Challenges and incentives encourage us to achieve our goals and test our limits. And Apple employs these tactics to push us towards our health goal with three Activity rings – Move, Excercise, and Stand.
Apple routinely introduces new challenges, limited edition achievement stickers to keep things interesting. And if you like competing with friends/family, the Activity Sharing feature lets you see others’ progress and show off yours.
The best part is that you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to make the most of the Apple Watch. You do you boo, whether a walk, yoga, pilates, dance, swimming, core training, functional strength training, or tai chi, every small or big effort is accounted for and supported.Fitness +
Introduced in late 2023, Apple Fitness+ is a dedicated health-centric service. It gives you access to a catalog of workouts, including strength, cycling, meditations, treadmill, etc.
These live and recorded sessions are conducted by experts and incorporate their unique training style, personality, and taste in music.
The service also boasts a special feature, Time To Walk. It boasts curated stories and music by interesting people such as Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba, NBA player Daymond Green, and more to keep you company during your daily stroll.
Note: You can get these benefits from the native apps and watchOS. A host of health and fitness Apple Watch apps chip in with more features and fun.
4. It keeps up with your work
Apple Watch can be a great companion whether your work incorporates commute, work from home, desk job, or anything.Stay in the loop
You’re not going to miss any important calls, messages, or notifications while the iPhone is kept in your pocket/bag or at a distance (another desk or room). You can:Focus modes for the win
While the Apple Watch understands your need to stay connected, it can also undertake the task of keeping distractions at a minimum. Features like Focus and Notification Summary help you stay in the moment, whether working or holidaying.
Source: AppleTake notes
I know the small screen of the Apple Watch isn’t note-taking friendly. But an idea doesn’t check whether you have iPhone/Mac or pencil and paper handy when it strikes. So, we make do with what we have on our hands.
And thanks to the native Voice Memos app and some amazing third-party note-taking apps, the task is not too difficult.
Note: If you’re a student or thinking of buying a watch for a student, here’s a glimpse of how the Apple Watch can help them.Siri
Apple’s voice assistant is pretty handy on the Apple Watch. You can ask Siri to
Answer some important or funny questions
Start a timer
Send a message
Find you a route or nearby services and direct you towards the destination
Set a Focus mode
Announce calls or notifications on supportive ear/headphones
Your schedule for the day and more.
Open a certain app
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Apple Watch also supports Siri Shortcuts, so you can even ask Siri to clear all notifications, change the watch face as per time/location, send default replies, and more.
5. It keeps up with your fun
The Apple Watch knows that all work and no fun can make its owner a dull one. So, it incorporates features that help you let your hair down.Music
Although not from its speakers, Apple Watch supports music listening via Bluetooth devices (earbuds, speakers, etc.). Moreover, you’re not limited to Apple Music; there are a host of third-party music apps that incorporates a companion Apple Watch app.
And not only music, but you can also play audiobooks, podcasts, and radio. Remarkably, the Apple Watch also offers Shazam support, i.e., you can also recognize the song playing in the background; just ask Siri which song is this.Games
Don’t rub your eyes; you’re not reading an anomaly. In fact, you can play a host of interesting and fun games on the Apple Watch. Agreed, they are not Apple Arcade standards; nonetheless, they can relax, distract, and pass your time.Apps galore
Apple Watch has an exhaustive array of apps in its App Store. You’ll find an app for almost anything you need, emails, weather, home automation, calculators, podcasts, expense managers, golf, etc.
Overall, you won’t get bored or left stranded if you have the Apple Watch and the right apps by your side.
6. It keeps up with your family and friends
It’s insane how much Apple Watch can do to keep you connected with your family and friends, especially now that we have Family Setup and Health Sharing.Family Setup
Pair more than one Apple Watch with your iPhone, and set up a watch for kids or older people. And while the Apple Watch will support all features, the parent/child will have control over certain features like:
Content and App Store restrictions
Apple Cash Family – Load money for Apple Pay
Emergency SOS Notification
Current location via Find My
Manage to call permission and set Schooltime schedule (only for kids)
View health-related informationHealth Sharing
We can’t be everywhere and monitor every little detail of our parents, partners, or kids’ life. However, thanks to Apple Watch, you can at least keep an eye out on their health stats. When enabled, you can view the health data of a fellow Apple Watch user.
Depending upon the permission given while setting up, you can get an overview of cardiac health (heart rate), sleep metrics, exercise minutes, etc. You can even view health trends they have established or broken recently.
Moreover, the setting alerts you if there’s an emergency, like when a fall is detected, or a metric is out of order.
7. It keeps up with the Apple ecosystem
Along with family/friends, Apple Watch is also a master at keeping you connected with your Apple devices. For instance, you can unlock your iPhone and Mac from your Apple Watch. Neat, right?
You can also ping the paired iPhone via Apple Watch to find its location and vice-a-versa. Plus, thanks to Handoff, you can switch Apple Watch tasks like typing messages, passwords, app names, etc., to iPhone.
Interestingly, the Apple Watch also boasts AirPlay compatibility. And albeit limited in its functionality because you can’t AirPlay from the watch, you can surely use it as an AirPlay remote for content streaming from the iPhone.
There’s more; Apple Watch can double as Apple TV remote, HomeKit remote, and iPhone Camera trigger; you can connect AirPods and switch between devices with ease. Overall, I could say that Apple Watch seamlessly closes the loop of Apple’s ecosystem.
8. It keeps up with your privacy
Apple keeps privacy at the core of every device, feature, and service it releases, and the Apple Watch is no different.
Whether it is App privacy labels, lock screen passwords, notification privacy, or clarity on data being shared via Activity Sharing or Health Sharing, everything is built with keeping the user’s privacy as a priority.
You can check out the detailed article on Apple Watch security features or trust Apple.
9. It keeps up with your lifestyle
First and foremost, it carries Apple’s signature sleek and minimal design philosophy. To put it simply, it looks rich and panache. Furthermore, you get endless options for Apple Watch accessories, from bands and cases to charging stands.
So, you can customize the looks to suit your style statement. Another interesting Apple Watch feature includes support for Apple Pay, hotel/home keys, transit cards, Covid-19 vaccination cards, etc., that’ll make your day-to-day tasks quicker.
Then there are accessibility features like VoiceOver, zoom, braille display, gestures/Assistive Touch, Accessibility Shortcuts, etc., to ensure that everyone can use the Apple Watch seamlessly.Things to consider before buying an Apple Watch
Do you have an iPhone?
While Apple Watch works fine independently, it still needs to be paired with an iPhone to function. And some features can only be managed and accessed through an iPhone. So, if you don’t have an iPhone, you can’t have an Apple Watch.
Would it affect your digital addiction?
It’s funny that the device we depend upon for digital minimalism is a digital device itself. Although I must say, Apple Watch has helped me and many others like me to minimize their daily device usage.
Instead of unlocking the iPhone and falling down the deep pit of scrolling, I now quickly and swiftly see my watch for updates, reply to that need attention, and move on with my workflow.
Is it worth the expense?
Yes, especially if you compare it with other smartwatches in the market. However, the price is somewhat worth it when considering seamless compatibility, accurate data metrics, and privacy-intensive features.
Thinking of buying an Apple Watch now, don’t miss on these resources:
A self-professed Geek who loves to explore all things Apple. I thoroughly enjoy discovering new hacks, troubleshooting issues, and finding and reviewing the best products and apps currently available. My expertise also includes curating opinionated and honest editorials. If not this, you might find me surfing the web or listening to audiobooks.
The Apple Watch lineup is getting a big expansion this fall with the addition of a new so-called Apple Watch Pro. This new Apple Watch Pro is said to feature a new design, longer battery life, and improved durability and will be announced tomorrow.
Head below for all of the latest details on what we know about the Apple Watch Pro so far.
Lead concept by Ian Zelbo and Parker OrtolaniApple Watch Pro: Design and screen
According to reporting from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, the Apple Watch Pro will visually differentiate itself from the Apple Watch Series 8 with a new design. The Apple Watch Pro won’t feature the flat edges that were once rumored for the Apple Watch Series 7, but there are apparently some design changes on the horizon.
Bloomberg reports that the Apple Watch Pro will be an “evolution of the current rectangular shape.” It’s not immediately clear what this means in terms of design, other than the fact that the Apple Watch Pro won’t be a rounded smartwatch.
One of the key changes to the Apple Watch Pro will be the materials from which it’s made. Currently, the Apple Watch is available in aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. The Apple Watch Pro will reportedly feature a “more durable formulation of titanium” as part of Apple’s efforts to make it as rugged as possible.
The Apple Watch Pro will also be larger than the current Apple Watch models. The Apple Watch Series 7 is available in 41mm and 45mm sizes. Those sizes refer to the physical case size of the Apple Watch, not the size of the screen. According to Bloomberg, the Apple Watch Pro case will be larger than 45mm, and could be “big enough that it might only appeal to a subset of customers.”
In addition to the larger case, the Apple Watch Pro will also get a larger display. Bloomberg reports that the screen will be about 7% bigger than the current Apple Watch Series 7, with a resolution of about 410 pixels by 502 pixels. For context, the 45mm version of the Apple Watch Series 7 features a resolution of 396 by 484 pixels.
Leaked CAD images of the Apple Watch Pro showcased this new design and the larger form factor. In these renders, we can see the flat display that lacks the “waterfall” edges of other Apple Watch models. On the right-hand side, there’s a new protruding bulge that houses the Digital Crown and side button.
The new design for the Digital Crown and side button is likely part of Apple’s efforts to improve durability while also freeing up internal space for a larger battery. The design, however, does significantly increase the overall size of the watch.
One of the more interesting changes is that there appears to be a new button on the left-hand side. The expectation is that this button will be programmable, allowing you to assign it to a specific workout type or application.Battery life
Alongside that larger design, the Apple Watch Pro is also reportedly set to feature improved battery life. Longer battery life is going to be a key factor for the “extreme sports” buyers of this Apple Watch, and that is seemingly something of which Apple is aware.
We don’t have exact statistics on how much larger the battery inside the Apple Watch Pro will be. Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman has simply said the device will feature improved battery life. In fact, Gurman speculated that the Apple Watch Pro could last “multiple days on one charge via the new low-power mode.”
A new low-power mode for the Apple Watch has been rumored for several months. It didn’t make an appearance when watchOS 9 was introduced at WWDC in June. Now, reports say the new low-power mode could be exclusive to the Apple Watch models launching this fall.
A new low-power mode on the Apple Watch would reportedly allow users to keep using Apple Watch apps and features without draining too much power. Apple can reduce the power consumption by pausing background activities, reducing screen brightness, and limiting other features like it does with low-power mode on the iPhone and Mac.Apple Watch Pro: Sensors and chips
Much like the Apple Watch Series 8, this new Apple Watch Pro is expected to add support for body temperature measurements. The Apple Watch won’t be able to give you an exact measurement of your body temperature, but rather it would send you an alert when it detected that your temperature is elevated. Then, you could take your temperature using a traditional thermometer.
The Apple Watch Pro could also offer exclusive features for fitness and health tracking. This could include additional metrics gathered using existing sensors, different workout types, and much more.
Other new health features are expected for the Apple Watch next year and going forward, including things like blood pressure monitoring and glucose measurements. These features aren’t expected to launch with this year’s Apple Watch Series 8 or Apple Watch Pro.
Finally, the Apple Watch Pro will be powered by a “new” S8 processor on the inside. This chip will reportedly offer “similar performance” to the S7 chip inside the Apple Watch Series 7, which is also similar to the S6 chip inside the Apple Watch Series 6. This means we shouldn’t expect any major performance improvements with this year’s updates.Naming
This new variant of the Apple Watch could ultimately end up being called a number of different things. The clear focus is on making this Apple Watch more rugged, durable, and optimized for extreme sports. If Apple wanted to lean into that idea, this version of the Apple Watch could be called something like “Apple Watch Extreme.”
In addition to being optimized for rugged and extreme sports lifestyles, however, this Apple Watch will also be ultra-premium with a new design, larger display, and improved battery life.
So if Apple wanted to target a broader audience of consumers, including those who simply want the “best” version of the Apple Watch, something like the “Apple Watch Pro” or “Apple Watch Max” might make the most sense.
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Why every Apple news byte seems to matter so much
There’s an addiction in the modern news reporting universe online to updates on details so very small that less than 10 years ago they’d never have left their respective sources lips. With Apple, we’ve got an addiction to details on the devices we’re holding right this minute. Chances are, in fact, that you’re working with a device right now that we’ve written about in the past 24 hours, and it doesn’t just have to be an Apple device.
When I write a story about a BlackBerry device, I don’t necessarily feel as though it’ll be read by BlackBerry fans alone. Our news cycle currently includes mainly stories about BlackBerry 10, an operating system that’ll be released inside the next few months, likely at the start of 2013. Because this operating system’s success will in a giant way affect the company that makes BlackBerry available to the world, each detail matters. As the iPhone 5’s absolute barrage of tiny details turned into full stories has shown you over the past several months, it doesn’t matter that the end product is greater than the sum of its parts.
With BlackBerry 10, we’re not expecting an operating system that’s going to change the whole mobile universe. It is interesting, on the other hand, to masses of people working with their smartphones on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, that BlackBerry 10 will bring a whole new keyboard to the mix. If you’ve got a keyboard that’s a hit on one system, the other systems see the success and step up their own game.
If we see Apple adding a new way to look at the map on your smartphone, the competition has no choice but to jump into the ocean. Google Street View recently added underwater panoramas to their archive. If Google was the only group in the world making an effort to map our planet, the public would expect that the speed at which they’re doing it was the fastest anyone could go. They’d also expect that noone else could do it better since Google would be the only one making the attempt.
So what does it mean when Apple’s Lightning connector is broken into? It means that Apple’s continually successful projection of a “magical” delivery of technology is inspiring the rest of the industry to “fight back”, so to speak. There’s no chance that manufacturers across the board don’t see an update about a hacked Apple cord and think, at least to some degree, “I wish our hardware mattered that much.”
Because of Apple – and the rest of the companies that find their way into our news feed every day – we’re seeing the personal technology market grow at a rate that’s absolutely astounding. Think about what we were working with just 2 years ago and consider how a story about clock image licensing is changing the speed at which we see great innovation every day.
Teachers, kindergarteners, and parents are trying to make online learning work—and snow days and other future emergencies will likely mean they have to again. But is it really possible?
One kindergarten meltdown has become the stuff of legend. In a story that went viral, a defeated 5-year-old sits in front of his computer screen during class time and simply cries in frustration. The post garnered thousands of sympathetic responses from families across the nation. Teaching our youngest children online, as many parents and teachers can attest, is not quite working out.
And while the pandemic has forced the issue in many U.S. states, there have long been both federal and state programs that have sought to substitute online teaching for in-person teaching for very young learners.
There are plenty of reasons why it leaves some kids crying. Kindergarten teachers have to cover ground that’s taken for granted at other levels: Kids learn how to separate from their caregivers, how to line up, and how to ask to use the restroom. On top of all that, in many cases, kindergarteners are now expected to learn how to read—one of the most cognitively demanding challenges we take on as a species.
Can teachers really convey things like the importance of cooperation and how to resolve conflict when students only see their friends in tiny boxes through Google Meet or Zoom? What about the intense work that’s required to teach a 5-year-old child how to decode words?
And then there’s the children, who aren’t really built for it. “Kindergartners usually need a lot of movement and exploration, and these are things that you can’t really do remotely, especially having to sit and stare at a screen,” said Lily Kang, a kindergarten teacher in the Boston area who’s teaching her students online this year.
Not far away, Catherine Snow, a professor of education at Harvard, agreed: “The biggest worries about missing in-person kindergarten are about socio-emotional development, learning to work in groups, and things like that,” she said.
Having a parent or guardian to assist kindergarten children with online learning makes a big difference.
Sophia Prinzivalli’s son, Sal, started kindergarten virtually this year in Plantation, Florida, a city about six miles west of Fort Lauderdale. Her husband is charged with making sure their son stays on track.
“The big joke in my family is my husband is going back to kindergarten because I told him you need to sit there with him at the laptop,” said Prinzivalli. “And they’re both going to have to be educated together and he’s going to have to help him through it.”
Children with this type of support are more likely to do well with remote instruction, while those without it are more likely to struggle, a fact that further exacerbates existing inequalities.
But even with supportive parents or guardians, Snow says, some things are just hard to pick up online.
“Some kids have a lot to learn about how to operate in group settings where you can’t just jump up and do whatever you want, whenever you want,” said Snow.
So how can teachers make this happen? Coordinating with caregivers and providing opportunities for socialization are key.
Building Relationships With Parents and Guardians
This year, and at junctures in the future when kids this young are working from home, like snow days or other emergencies, it’s important that kindergarten teachers see their students’ parents as partners. Most children at this age can’t sign in to an online class without assistance, although once they get the hang of Zoom or Google Meet, many can learn to turn their camera on and off and mute themselves.
Since many parents are stretched thin working from home while also overseeing their children’s learning, teachers should make things as simple as possible: Cut down on the number of applications you use—you might even reduce it to one or two—and use a single communication channel like email or text. If you use an LMS, streamline it and post at the same time and the same place every day so that everything is easy to find. Embed links to any required documents or references.
When in doubt, keep it simple.
Allison Sawyer is a new kindergarten teacher in Tampa, Florida. She told Jeffrey S. Solochek with the Tampa Bay Times that when her school went to remote learning, she was able to make things better for her students by listening to their parents’ concerns.
“So Sawyer cut back on some of the demands, while keeping expectations high,” Solochek wrote. “She focused on just one platform for interactions and links. And she heightened communication with both children and parents, some of whom needed to learn how to guide their kids.”
Kindergarten teacher Ruth Calkins emails her students’ parents daily. She says when her school went to remote learning last year, she realized that she needed them to make it work.
“It was vital for parents to be a part of the virtual learning experience,” Calkins wrote in Edutopia in August. “Their children needed the help, and I needed a partner in getting the kids to do their assigned work.”
Calkins used the check-in emails to provide parents with a list of her expectations for the following day, along with links to assignments and Zoom classes.
Addressing Students’ Need for Socialization
Janette Morency’s daughter, Olivia, is attending kindergarten virtually this year in Plantation, Florida.
“It’s very sad for me because she’s very social, and being home is not easy on her,” said Morency, who’s a stay-at-home mom of three, raising an issue that resonates with most families schooling the very young from home today.
Teachers are using several methods to try to help their young students like Olivia get to know one another during distance learning. Some teachers ask questions at the beginning of the day such as, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” that are designed to get kids talking and to help them make connections with one another.
At other schools, children are encouraged to come together for virtual lunch breaks. These informal social gatherings allow the students to see and talk to their friends while they’re eating, just like they would at school.
When her kindergarteners were working from home, teacher Samantha Hinds, from New Orleans, provided frequent brain breaks to make sure her young students didn’t sit in front of the computer too long. She also used small group instruction to help her students feel more comfortable with each other.
“It’s definitely harder to socialize online unless you make it a point to do that,” said Hinds. “We spent the first two weeks really getting to know each other. The students greeted each other by name when they came into their small groups, so that they could get to know who their classmates are and what they look like.”
Hinds also used closing questions with her students each day. When she asked the students about their favorite snack, they discovered that a lot of them liked the same foods. Her kids have also worked together to make a list of the qualities of a good friend.
She said these practices worked pretty well, although she’s now back in class teaching full-time.
“They [were] just excited to see other people again, even if it [was] online,” said Hinds.
A Word on Reading and Writing
At many schools, the days of kindergarteners fingerpainting and playing in a dress-up corner are long gone. Increasingly, kindergarten has become more academic, with some educators calling it the new first grade.
Under these circumstances, many kindergarten students are expected to leave the classroom knowing how to read.
Snow finds this troubling.
“All over the world, kids start to learn to read at 6 1/2 or 7,” said Snow. “There’s nothing magic about learning to read at 5 or at 4. The American obsession is how can we do it earlier, how can we do it faster. And that doesn’t necessarily make it better or easier.”
Snow argues that kindergarten teachers can make the most of remote learning by focusing on helping students to develop unconstrained literacy skills, which are things learned across a lifetime, such as vocabulary and background knowledge. She suggests things like having read-alouds and discussions about the content of a book or having students respond to the book by drawing pictures or using invented spellings to answer questions about it. Teachers can also have their students watch educational videos together and then discuss what they learned.
“If we could take kindergarten back to being a place where kids just get to explore a lot of interesting ideas and they were given a lot of resources to do that, I think they would not suffer in the long run,” said Snow.
But teachers in districts that push teaching reading can make it work online. Instructional coaches recommend working with students in small groups to go over phonics. Online tools can be used to replicate things like letter tiles to assist with this instruction. Teachers can also use breakout rooms to listen to students read. Another option is to request that parents take short videos of their children reading and email them or upload them on a platform like ClassDojo.
Teachers can have students practice spelling by calling out words and having students write them down using pencil and paper, which they can hold up to the camera.
While this all might sound daunting, many parents are appreciative of the effort that teachers are putting in.
Prinzivalli said that while online learning is no substitute for “real school,” so far things have been going well.
“Despite hiccups with technology, he is a little sponge soaking up the teaching from his teacher,” said Prinzivalli. “She’s done a great job keeping him engaged and excited about school. His creativity and desire to learn [have] been opened up.”
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