Distance learning doesn’t have to be a stressful endeavor.
In an instant, thousands of parents around the world became at-home educators. As school districts shut down to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19, students are now trying to be a success at learning from their living room instead of the classroom.
While teachers and administrators should be commended for the excellent work they’ve done to ease the transition, there’s no denying that it’s a major change. Especially if you’re also juggling your own work from home, the new schedule might feel a little overwhelming.
If that’s the case, take heart. Today, we’re sharing a few tips to help you and your children find learning success amid the chaos of this unprecedented setup. Read on for 10 tips that can help you make the most of your time together.
1. Get acclimated to the tools.
A few weeks ago, Zoom wasn’t exactly a household word. Now, it’s one of the top online conferencing platforms teachers are using to video chat with their students. In addition, many are relying on distance learning tools, like Google Classroom, to store and grade assignments.
Do all of these technologies look like a foreign language to you? Jumping in right away is a surefire recipe for confusion.
Give yourself time to learn these tools before using them and especially before expecting your child to master them. Rather than learning all of the technical intricacies, focus on the simple steps you’ll need to use the platform appropriately. This might include logging on, accessing the material, participating in discussions, and submitting work.
2. Create a flexible schedule.
Yes, the typical school day is around six-and-a-half hours long, but consider everything that happens during that time frame.
Teachers are attending to dozens of children. There’s also enrichment, lunchtime, recess, and social play. When you’re homeschooling your child in a one-on-one environment, it’s unlikely you’ll need that much time to complete the same amount of work. Rather than requiring them to sit at the table from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., remember to break up the day and have a little fun!
Go outside for a nature walk, call the grandparents, or watch a favorite show together. Short, frequent breaks are great mental refreshers and can actually keep your kids on task.
Create a daily schedule to add structure, but don’t be afraid to deviate from it if a lunchtime dance party turns into a marathon! This might also mean adjusting your rules on screen time or taking school outside on a nice day.
3. Establish designated work areas.
Tired of moving schoolwork aside for dinner plates?
To the greatest extent possible, try to designate a separate work area for each of your children to study. If the only space available is the dining room table, move school assignments to one side to add separation. Otherwise, a bedroom desk, spare table, or even a comfy mat on the floor can make excellent workstations.
4. Set evening rewards.
One way to encourage your brood to stay on track during the day is to set an evening reward early so they have something to look forward to and work toward!
This might be a family movie night or something as simple as FaceTiming their best friend before bed. Either way, it helps to have an incentive, and this can be a great way to bond as a family after dinner.
5. Reach out to the teacher.
From virtual zoo visits to online celebrity read-alouds, there is no shortage of digital resources available for parents to access right now. While it’s all beneficial, there’s no denying it can feel overwhelming. Where do you start, and which ones are the best?
The short answer? Ask your child’s teacher.
Teachers know where your children are academically and can recommend age- and level-appropriate resources that cater to their needs. From there, prioritize the ones that keep your child’s attention. It could be the most highly praised program in the world, but if they’re bored after two minutes, it isn’t serving its purpose for your family.
6. Assign special projects.
While there will be assignments your child has to complete for school, you can also add a little fun learning into the mix. Ask each child to brainstorm a project they’d like to complete during this time at home.
From cardboard box robots to homemade books and documentaries, there’s no limit to what they can create! Give them as much time as they need and be on hand to offer support and provide needed materials. At the end of the project, they’ll have a unique piece of work that can help them remember this season for years to come.
7. Add music wherever possible.
Studies show that music ignites our brains in many ways, enhancing our intellectual capacity and our social-emotional, motor, and language skills.
Having a hard time getting everyone focused? Try playing soft classical music in the background. Then, when the assignment is complete and it’s time for a mini-break, change it to a kid-friendly tune they adore.
As they’re dancing, don’t be afraid to get a little funky yourself! Dancing releases endorphins and helps shake away stress, so join in and let loose.
8. Choose healthy snacks.
While a sweet treat is fine every now and then, it should be just that: a treat. Now that everyone is at home, snack time has likely gotten a lot more frequent, and that’s OK. Snacks can help boost brain power, but only if they’re nutritious.
Rather than reaching for the powdered doughnuts every time your kids are hungry, opt for healthy alternatives instead. Some of our favorite (and dentist-approved!) choices include:
- Raw veggies
- Whole fruit
Keep these in your fridge and pantry and you’ll always have something on hand when they’re ready for a break.
9. Enact a digital quarantine.
Chances are there are more than a few screens on at your home at any given time. Between the television, laptop, tablet, and smartphone, it can be hard to catch a break from it all. While digital connectivity is a blessing right now, it can also be more than a little distracting.
To help everyone get through their assignments, consider enacting a digital quarantine. This simply means turning off all non-essential devices and putting them away until the work gets done. The fun apps and games can wait, and they’ll still be there when they finish that worksheet!
10. Give yourself grace.
Take a minute to pat yourself on the back. We’ll wait!
You’re doing this, parents! Yes, it’s crazy and new, and there are days when you might feel like you’re shoveling snow in a blizzard. Still, you’re doing the best you can with the resources you have, and you deserve an A+ for your commitment.
Lean on your support network, practice self-care, set realistic expectations, and look for the moments of good in every day, no matter how little they are. We’re all in this together, and you’re far from alone.
Achieve learning success one day at a time.
One major concept in education is that of a learning curve.
Students aren’t expected to fully grasp a concept on the very first try. Rather, they work at it over time and perfect their skills until it comes more naturally to them.
Just like them, parents are on the same trajectory. It will take time to acclimate to this new normal, and you can’t expect to achieve unparalleled learning success on day one. Take your time, go one day at a time, and embrace this season of unexpected togetherness, learning from one another along the way.
In the meantime, our dental office is here for you and your family! Contact us at any time to connect.