Happy fall y’all!
The school year is well underway and it looks vastly different than last year for families all across the nation.
So many districts are opting for virtual school and that’s sometimes a struggle.
Having kids in front of screens all day is something we’ve been told NOT to do by experts.
That doesn’t even include the logistical headache so many parents are facing when trying to coordinate remote learning with work schedules and care for younger siblings.
What’s a mom to do?
Well, there isn’t necessarily one right answer, but I hope the info below will help ease some of the difficulty that comes with taking on school-at-home during a pandemic.
Full disclaimer - I’m a homeschool mom. I’m well acquainted with at-home learning and using technology to teach, but virtual public school is not exactly my forte.
So to help you today, I’m going to recap what I know about (as mentioned) at-home learning and teaching with technology. Plus, I did some digging and took to social media to find out from friends and family what’s working (and what’s not!) when it comes to public school at home.
Here are 3 sanity saving tips for back to (virtual) school.
1. Set your space up for success
First off….when your child has to log in at a certain time every single day, it helps to have a designated space for school to happen.
That’s not always easy. Siblings share rooms. Parents work from home. People are coming and going. Life is happening.
How can you set your child up for virtual learning where you’re easily accessible if they need help and they won’t be distracted by the normal goings-on around the home?
You’ve got to think outside the box. Think about spare corners you have available where a small desk might fit. Maybe you can set up a small table and chair in a guest bedroom or lesser frequented hallway. Or, even consider setting them up at the kitchen table with a tri-fold board to block visual distractions and noise-canceling headphones.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to do the job. This isn’t forever - just for now.
Having a dedicated space to learn each day will go a long way in remaining consistent and staying on track with assigned work.
2. Routine, routine, routine
One of the best ways to ensure a good start to the day is by having a solid morning routine.
Even though your kids aren’t leaving the house to go to school, it still helps to set up a routine as if they are.
This might include - waking up at the same time each day, a hearty breakfast, changing out of pj’s (comfy clothes are perfectly fine!), and brushing teeth/combing hair.
A good way to make sure this happens is to set up a chart in the kitchen that your kids can refer to and check off the steps as they do them each day. For pre-readers, make sure to include pictures along with the words.
3. Make time for “brain breaks”
As mentioned above, having kids on screens all day is not ideal.
Kids need to move and play.
For learning time, you might try an exercise ball instead of a chair. This lets your child bounce and wiggle while staying seated. Also, experiment with fidget toys. They come in so many varieties. If your kids are having trouble sitting through lessons, keeping their hands busy is key.
More importantly, be sure to include plenty of breaks in their day.
Some ideas for this - yoga video on YouTube before logging in for lessons, mid-morning movement break on GoNoodle, “recess” outside after lunch, a trip to the park when lessons are done, and a family walk after dinner.
Of course, you’ll have to take into consideration your and your kids’ schedules, but really try to keep them active at regular intervals and get them outside once or twice a day for fresh air.
This will help their concentration levels immensely. And it will help them sleep better at night too.
Ultimately, kids sitting in front of a computer for several hours a day is not how most of us would choose to educate them.
Yes, technology is wonderful. And yes, it makes so many resources available to us at our fingertips.
But our kids need social interaction and physical activity to thrive.
Remember, this is temporary. We’ve just got to make the best of it for a short while and eventually some semblance of normalcy will return.
Set up a designated space for your kids to do school each day. Make sure they’ve got a well-rounded morning routine that includes a nutritious breakfast and personal hygiene. And make sure they get plenty of movement and fresh air.
If you do those things consistently, this year of school-at-home will go so much more smoothly.
Plus, you’ll be setting them up to take their academics seriously, understand the importance of good habits, and prioritize physical activity. I’d say those are pretty hefty accomplishments at the end of the day.
It won’t be perfect, but we’ll all learn some valuable lessons along the way.