When sending remote activities it is important to have ‘buy in’ from the young people and volunteers taking part. It is also important to engage parents and carers as they will be the middle-persons or gatekeepers between you sending the activity and the child working on it.
Be aware of your capacity and that of your volunteers
Before deciding on how regularly you will send out activities and what format this will take, it is worth considering your usual club rhythm, your availability, and the availability of other volunteers in the Dojo. How much time do each of you have on a weekly/fortnightly/monthly basis to collate content, send activities, provide feedback, and review and share completed projects? Would you or other volunteers in your Dojo like to use this as an opportunity to develop video-recording skills? Could one volunteer decide on activities, another send activities, and another provide support? When you know your team's capacity, you will be better prepared to send remote activities and to provide consistent support.
Involve parents in decision making
There are various ways in which you can get parents on board. You can involve them in the process of deciding how regularly you will send activities, by agreeing with them the level of support that is reasonable, and by discussing what are reasonable mutual expectations. Learn whether parents prefer to use email for communications, or whether they have experience with classroom management tools. Explain the benefits and why creating with code can be a useful skill and positive outlet for young people to continue to develop at this time. It will also help you to understand the appetite for different activities within the group.
Involving parents and carers will help reduce any misunderstandings. It will ensure that the plan for sending remote activities is suitable, given the needs and capabilities of yourself, parents, and young people at this time.
Clear instructions and support
Clear instructions and set times for support mean that parents feel supported and expectations for availability have been set. You could ask another volunteer to read over your instructions to make sure that they are clear and concise. Try to avoid jargon and use formatting (bullet points, bold) to draw attention to important points as needed.
If you decide to use a classroom management tool, or other programmes for coding like Scratch or Trinket, you may need to allocate time for support and for providing clear instructions on installing software or account set-up.
A benefit of creating accounts on Trinket and Scratch is that it allows for auto-saving of projects while young people are working on them, so if they want to come back to it at a later date their progress is saved.
Sharing personalised feedback
Young people love personalised feedback — it shows their efforts are appreciated, and that what they are doing is worthwhile. Even though you are communicating with the parent, it is important to use the child’s name, the specifics of what they are working on, and to direct any support towards them. This will be more engaging for the young person.
When introducing a new activity, or series of activities, it can be helpful to show your Ninjas projects that other young people have previously made. This can provide inspiration to your Ninjas and also shows them that their work will be celebrated. This can be highly-motivating. Be sure to include different types of projects when sharing — and not just the most complex — so that young people feel inspired rather than daunted.
Using video, interactive, and live elements
You could record yourself talking about the amazing projects children from the Dojo sent you, or screen-record yourself playing some of their games. You may also like to host an online session (such as a video conference meeting) during the intervals between sending out activities so that you can support young people in real time.
Read our complete guidance on sending remote activities. If you are interested in also doing online sessions, along with sending activities, see our online sessions guidance.