Distance Learning right now is a choice for some and a requirement for others. Check out the following tips I’ve put together to master that distance learning life in your home.
We are into our 5th week of Distance Learning for the 2020-2021 school year. Everyday, I’m working with our 6th grade son and 3rd grade daughter to accomplish their school tasks and things are going smooth (for the most part). Sure we’ve had our struggles, but I’m doing my best to ensure this time is more effective, efficient and calmer than how it went in the spring.
I know distance learning looks different for all of us. Some parents are simultaneously working their jobs, dealing with non-school aged kids, have multiple children needing to be taught, Zooms scheduled every hour and everything in between. So take what you want from the list below. It won’t work for every family, but these tips have definitely helped in our house.
Use the same morning routine everyday. Our kids need to be signed in to Google Classroom by 7:50. Their alarms go off at 7:20, they do their morning tasks (get dressed, breakfast, brush teeth, make bed, etc) and then head to the basement (our “school” area) to sign in for attendance.
Do NOT have a schedule once your school day begins. This would be my number one tip if I was ranking them. Nothing ever takes the exact amount of time you thought it would, so don’t unnecessarily stress yourself and your kids out by creating a schedule. Take a snack break after a subject is done, not at a specific time. Take brain breaks as your kids need them. This is the beauty of schooling at home. Kids don’t have to pack up to head to another classroom or leave for PE. They can finish their thoughts and their work in one setting.
Side note: The sheer importance of not having a schedule is why I’m so thankful we rarely have group zooms. (Week 5 and still no Zooms!) Zooms interrupt the flow of the day and stress us all out. (And, in my teacher opinion, are NOT effective.) Instead, my kids’ teachers record short instructional videos to go along with the work that we can watch when it works within our school day and rewatch if needed.
Do school your way. I don’t fight the kids on where or how they want to do their work. As long as they get it done, it doesn’t matter to me in the slightest if they are on the floor, sitting at a table, or lying in the grass. My 3rd grader is a huge animal lover and always wants to do her work with her favorite stuffed animals around her or our dog Max. As long as they don’t become a distraction, I say go for it.
Walk away. There are two times I follow this advice. As I said before, not having a schedule is key for our distance learning life. Unfortunately, sometimes my task driven personality takes over and I want to hurry my kids along with their work. Instead of getting pushy and frustrating them, I simply walk away. I try to remember that they will eventually get the material done, especially once they remember they get to have free time after “school”. No need to be an annoying bee in their ear. I need to relax, remove myself from the area and let them do it on their own.
The second time I follow this advice is if I’m getting frustrated in general. I was a teacher, but for whatever reason, teaching my own kids tests every ounce of my patience. I don’t have the best poker face. And I don’t like to admit it, but when I’ve explained something twice and they don’t understand because they weren’t listening or they don’t remember material from the day before, I become irritated. So when I start to lose my patience, I just walk away. And most times, everyone just needs a break. Once we’ve taken a breather, we reconvene and continue.
Have an area dedicated to school supplies. Holy smokes! I was shocked by the amount of stuff we came home with on Back-to-School night: school supply kits, loads of textbooks, workbooks, readers, binders…oh my! I wish we would have takes suitcases to help carry the load to the car instead of the 3 trips the 4 of us took. With all of the academia now filling our house, I had to set up specific spots where each child would house their school supplies. It helps them to easily find what they are looking for and makes end-of-the-school-day clean up a breeze.
Check supplies regularly. Nothing will frustrate you more than realizing you need more printer ink! Do yourself a favor and regularly check your supplies so this doesn’t happen.
Use a Time Timer. This timer is so useful! Almost daily, there are assignments that require the kids to study flashcards or read for specified amounts of times. Sometimes the kids just need an extra incentive to stay focused. Other times I want the kids to try something independently for a certain amount of time before receiving guidance and this timer is there for all of that. It’s large, stands up and has a little beeper when the time runs out.
Comfy clothes and a Yeti Mug. Ok. This tip is purely for fun, but bouncing back and forth between the two kids can definitely cause me to forget about my coffee until it is lukewarm so I’ve been using this Yeti Mug. Love it! Also, I have the above sweatshirt in two colors and wearing it paired with leggings is by far my favorite and comfiest teaching look. I actually sized up to and XXL in the sweatshirt bc I wanted it extra large and comfy. I’m normally a medium and don’t regret the decision one bit!
Be like Nike. Of course, there are times the kids will complain that they don’t want to work or that an activity is “dumb” and I reply with a simple “Just do it.” I remind them that in order to be able to do X, Y or Z they need to have their work completed, so just do it. I think it helps that I’m not the one assigning the work, so there is very little arguing about the fact that they have to do it, but they definitely need the reminders to just.get.it.done.
Practice patience. Ok. Maybe this would be my number one tip. Be patient…just do it. 😉
That’s it! If you have any further suggestions, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear!
Good luck mastering that distance learning life!
Are your kids attending school in person? Check out Callie’s post here for tips and tricks!