If you're like me, then you're probably wondering what will this new school year be like? Like most parents and teachers who were thrown into virtual learning six months ago, we had no clue what we were doing, but, with trial and error, we somehow figured things out. And then school closed for summer break JUST when we were starting to get the hang of things. So, here were are six months later for what is possibly going to be a longer virtual learning experience than the first which was only about 3 months. As a teacher AND mom, I saw what worked with my students and with my children to lessen the stress levels of virtual learning. I thought I should share a few tips with you...
Tip #1 CREATE RULES
It is very important that you set clear guidelines for what homeschooling will look like. Think of yourself as the teacher at the beginning of the school year who lays out all the rules and expectations for the classroom. Now, you'll be doing the same for your home which has become an overnight school. Include your children in the process when you create the rules. If you have your set of non-negotiable rules, that's fine, but include your child in the conversation about some acceptable rules to add to the list. They will more likely follow the rules they helped to create. Work it out together and then post it in a visible area of your home and refer back to it when needed, the same way a classroom teacher would. You can purchase a large poster board oak tag from your local dollar tree.
Tip #2 CREATE A SCHEDULE
Create a schedule. Children need consistency and structure, while they may not like it, they need it. In a regular school setting, children have a schedule that they follow on a daily basis which helps with their structured day. I know it is easy to get very comfy at home and fall into a 'go with the flow' way of homeschooling, but, keep in mind, this is temporary. Your children will eventually go back to a school building and by maintaining some school structure, it will make the transition easier once schools are back to normal. And by having a schedule, it also makes your days easier because you know what's ahead, especially if you have multiple little learners at home. Take a moment to think about what it would be like to not know your children's daily schedule and you're frantically running around your living room trying to figure it out last minute...pure chaos. I learned the hard way of going with the flow and trying to teach online. And then I decided to implement a daily message with my children. I was already doing it with my students prior to virtual learning and I continued the same practice once we transitioned to virtual. At the beginning of each day, I read the message detailing what's ahead. Once I started doing that with my children at home, they were excited for their day because they knew everything that was going to happen. And, they knew the order of how things would happen. A schedule will eliminate the stress each day. Be as creative as you want with the daily schedule. When you create your child's schedule, don't forget to put a recess break in there. Recess can be outdoors or you can check out the Go Noodle YouTube channel. This station is sure to get your kids moving. If not, ask your child to help you make a few brain break options. My children also had play-doh, magnet building tiles, and board games as some of the break choices.
Tip #3 CREATE A DESIGNATED LEARNING AREA
As I have said before, it is easy to get comfortable being at home. I know all to well as a teacher from seeing what was happening in my students' homes as I taught virtually, and as a mom, sometimes I just couldn't be bothered. I took the easy and comfortable way out. So, no judgement here. But, I saw a difference in my students and my children who had designated learning areas in their homes away from all distractions. I have seen children sitting in their kitchens while mom cooks breakfast, children sitting in the living with a loud television on in the background, or a younger sibling who is constantly running in front of the computer. Those are all distracting and I also understand that some things are inevitable. However, a small area in your home, preferably an area with minimal traffic, would be perfect for your child's learning area. If your child in in lower elementary (PreK-2nd grade) I would recommend sitting nearby to provide assistance when needed. The first and second graders will eventually get the hang of it, but PreK and Kindergarten will really need your support to mute and un-mute, along with other requests from their teachers. And not only will your child need support, but if you are nearby, it deters children from not focusing on their learning. I noticed during my live classes, students who had parents sitting with more engaged with the lesson.
Tip #4 LOGIN INFORMATION
With virtual learning, you are sure to spend your day logging into many platforms: Google Classroom, Zoom, Pearson, I-Ready, MyOn to name a few. To make your life easy, make a list of all your child's platforms and passwords. You'll thank me later. And if your child is at the age where he or she can login independently, definitely spend some time teaching them how to login or save the passwords that way you don't have to type it in each time. That will free up some time on your end. And don't forget to bookmark all the platforms. You can place the icons on the desktop's home screen or if you are using a tablet, create a folder with all the apps. I did that for my then kindergarten daughter who was able to find all her school apps in one place.
Tip #5 BREATHE AND RELAX
When you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a moment to do some deep breathing. Whatever it is that you are doing, leave it alone and return at a later time. It's okay to feel frustration, but what's most important, is to know when to walk away from what's causing you to become frustrated. No one said homeschooling would be easy and you are doing the best you can. Hang it there :).
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Hi, I am Odessa. I'm a mom of two wonderful children and a teacher. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Science in Childhood Education with over 10 years of PreK and Kindergarten experience. I am a lover of all things literacy for children and their curiosity of the world. Get comfy and click around my site. I hope you find something you'll like, and something your kids will love! P.S. Akwaaba means 'welcome' :)
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