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5 Tips for a Distance Learning School Year

For parents who are new to working from home, the sudden shift to home-based project manager may seem like an insurmountable task. For some, this is an easier transition than others due to numerous factors in their lives and their families. Whether you are new to performing your job from home or have already been doing it for years, suddenly taking on the teacher’s role is a big challenge! Here are a handful of ideas to help create a learning environment at home for your child.

Create and Maintain a Daily Schedule

It feels like it would be kinder to let the kids sleep in since they no longer have a bus to catch or to do schoolwork on their own time. But, for one main reason, we would recommend keeping a schedule that is similar to the one your child is already used to! Keeping the schedule that they are adapted to will help them stay in the mindset that they are expected to participate with online learning between set hours. If you allow your student’s schedule and habits to waiver, you might find it challenging to bring them back to a productive state. Maintaining a consistent schedule will help you stay on track as well!

If your child has not attended school yet, getting them used to a schedule will make things easier when transitioning back to in-person education.

Come Prepared to the Next Lesson

Elementary students often need a lot of extra guidance when it comes to understanding instructions and expectations, and getting started on their remote-learning assignments. After all, if they were in school, their teacher would most likely spend quite a bit of time getting the whole class all on the same page and situated.

Briefly reviewing their lessons, checking over assignments, and identifying questions you personally have about the content can help you wrap your head around what your student may need help with

presently or later on in the day. Teachers are waiting for parents and students to hop online and ask questions, and they appreciate the chance to work with parents to help students be more successful. So don’t hesitate to let them know if you need help or advice!

If your student is old enough, it may be beneficial to walk them through how to login by themselves to video chat with their teachers. This way, each time they have a question, they can try to chat with their teacher rather than interrupting what you are doing or waiting until you are free to help them out.

Create A Space For Class

No, you don’t have to rearrange your whole house! Accommodating for remote-learning can be accomplished with just a few steps.

You can start by designating a spot in the house as the “learning area.” All parents should know that you do not have to have a fancy corner of the home decorated in a school-like fashion for it to be an adequate learning space. You can clear off an area at the kitchen counter, the dining room table, or the office desk. Wherever this space is, we have found that it should be away from gaming consoles and televisions if your child is easily distracted. Places like the living room or the child’s bedroom may not be conducive to staying focused and learning. Living rooms often have distracting electronics. And children are often so used to sleeping and playing in their bedrooms that they’ll resort to that behavior rather than studying or completing assignments. 

If your home environment is small, you may not have many options for setting up a learning area away from distractions. If the living room is the best space, designate learning time as a strict “no TV for anyone” time. If possible, it would also be helpful if the “learning area” was away from noisy pets or loud siblings. Children who are adjusted to school are not used to these noises while in a learning environment. Anything you can do to make the area quiet and distraction-free will help your child focus and stay in the mindset to be productive and learn.

Along with creating a learning area, it may be beneficial for you to designate a spot for school materials, completed handwritten work, workbooks, textbooks, supplies, etc. Making a spot for these materials will help you and your child locate the items quickly when they’re needed. If your student is younger, it may help to keep these materials out of their reach until they are needed. Setting expectations for these learning materials to stay in the designated spot can also save you time and a

hassle!

Set Aside Time to Socialize

Through remote-learning, your student may still see some of their classmates through Google Meets or Zoom Meetings. But, does this really compare to face-to-face interactions? One of the biggest complaints about online-only learning is how much students begin to miss their friends and in-person interactions with people outside of their family.

If possible and safe to do so, look into setting up playdates for children to meet up with a couple of their friends to socialize. Of course, this will depend on your comfort level. These types of playdates can be made safer by keeping playdate circles small, taking temperatures before the meetup, and limiting things like snacks/bottles while the children are playing.

If you have a student between 1st-5th grade, you can set up video chat dates. These video chats don’t always have to involve students just sitting and talking to each other, either. They can draw together, play with their toys, give each other house tours, and even celebrate birthdays through their electronic devices! A fun homework assignment could even include having your child teach a lesson to their friend over video or perform a short skit. Create scavenger hunts for the children to complete and see who finishes the fastest! Flashcard practice with friends is more fun, and collaboration on homework assignments can help with team building and cooperation skills.

Get Out and Move!

You can make online learning easier for your child by building in some recess time. Allow them to get up frequently, stretch, and exercise. Sure, they can definitely play video games or watch a show during this time, but it is also important to get up and get some of that energy out! Sitting all day with little movement can impact your student’s posture and mood, just like their parents 🙂 Making time for exercise can help children maintain their health and energy levels. If your work schedule allows, use your child’s get-up-and-move time to get yourself up and moving so that you both get the benefit of stress-relief and exercise.

For students who are reluctant to exercise, you can help them discover a new hobby or a physical activity that they enjoy to make movement and exercising more fun! Stretching and balance activities are great for circulation and can be done anywhere. 

If the weather is a problem, prepare some indoor activities that are safely played in tighter quarters. Beanbag toss, yoga, and circle-time games are great indoor activities that young children will usually enjoy. If your home has stairs, a stair-climb hike challenge is another option.

Next Steps

Remote learning and remote working, while new and possibly frustrating, are also a unique opportunity for families to share the parts of their day that they usually spend apart. Children get a glimpse into their parents’ working world and the types of responsibilities that they maintain in addition to their duties at home. Parents get the rare opportunity to see their children in an entirely different element and be a more significant part of their education. In this way, families get better insights into each other’s lives and a greater awareness of their needs via their first-hand experience. 

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