As our summer comes to an end and our children return to school, many of us are faced with the new norm that is distance learning. Many of us moms are having mixed feelings towards this new normal. We’ve made this decision with the health of our children and families in mind, yet we’re a little nervous about if our child will fall behind or how they will adjust to this new way of learning. Even though we cannot predict how this school year will go, we can try our best to plan and prepare so we set our children up for success! Keep reading for how you can get your child ready for a successful year of distance learning.
Implement a routine/schedule
Schedules and routines are very important for kids. You may notice that when your child is deterred from their normal routine or when they don’t know what to expect from the day their behavior changes. They may seem stressed or begin acting out. Just like you would during a normal school year, implement a schedule and try to keep it the same every day. Make sure they wake up at about the same time, eat breakfast at the same time, and are sitting and ready for class well before class starts. The added challenge for distance learning will be continuing a schedule throughout the day. Especially if you’re still working full-time. Think about your work schedule and how you can incorporate it into your child’s schedule. Use your lunch break to prepare lunch for you and the kids and enjoy this meal together at the same time every day. Once school and work are over follow the same routine you would during a normal school year. Have dinner around the same time and have them get ready for bed early enough so they are well rested for the next day.
Set up a learning space
Try to refrain from your child working from their bed or the couch while distance learning. Think about when you do your best work while working from home. Most of the time we get more work done while working at a desk and away from a lot of distractions. It’s hard (even for us adults) to work while the TV is on or once we’re too comfy in our beds. If you don’t have a desk to spare it’s fine to clear off the table and have them sit in a comfortable, upright chair. To get them in school spirit even further, you can provide them with similar tools and decorations that they would find in their classrooms. Most dollar stores have a well-stocked aisle with supplies for students and teachers. A labeled container with writing and coloring utensils, flashcards, a white/bulletin/chalkboard, a number or alphabet table, supplies for arts & crafts, etc.
Allow them to take breaks
This step will be extremely important, especially while they’re still getting adjusted to things. During a normal school year, children have a lunch break and (for the younger ages) a break for recess. Even when transitioning from one activity to another our kids get a minute or two to talk to friends or their teacher. With them now learning from home, small breaks will be important so they don’t get burned out easily. For most schools, the distant learning schedule is shorter than a normal day at school, but they’re still staring at a computer screen for multiple hours at a time which they aren’t used to. Give them time to stretch, get a snack, and of course, get outside once it’s time.
Learn the program they’re using
No matter how old your child is it’ll be helpful to also know the program they’re using for distance learning. Being able to help with any technical difficulties or navigate through the settings will help your child be most successful with distant learning while making sure they don’t miss any valuable information. Take this time before classes start to get you and your child familiar with the program. Doing this early will also allow time to ask the teacher any questions you may have before it’s too late. Your goal is to have you and your child completely prepared when it’s time for their first class.
Throughout the school year, make sure you’re staying connected with your child and their teacher. I know we get busy working full-time, especially while working from home and trying to keep up with house duties. However, check-in with your kid often. Ask them if they’re understanding their assignments or if they need help with anything. Make sure that they’re turning in assignments on time. Check-in with them emotionally and see how they’re feeling about distant learning as time goes on. Also, be sure to check in with your child’s teacher. Stay up-to-date on when assignments are due. Ask the teacher how your child is doing academically and how their behavior has been during these online lessons. Remember that distance learning is also a new norm for most teachers too. Some haven’t had a lot of training on it and are trying to learn what works and what doesn’t. Try to ask what you can do at home to help. Overall, try to remain patient and positive! This year has come with a lot of uncomfortable and uncertain changes. The important thing to remember is that you’re not in this alone. So many families are now working and learning from home and trying to adjust as well. Every day won’t always be rainbows and sunshine, but it is what we make it. Try to remain positive and know that things will get better.