• Sarah Rich

Managing Distance Learning In Your Home

So here you are trying to handle your own obligations and now you’ve been told you have to take on homeschooling, too! Many of you may have other challenges, too: perhaps you’re fighting an illness or taking care of elderly parents, or any number of other complications. How do you add a teaching career to your list of tasks? After receiving panicked phone calls from friends, I thought I’d share some tips to help parents adjust to their new life/work/home environment.

First, take a deep breath

The world won’t fall apart if it takes you some time to get a schedule going that works for your family. It’ll take time for your family to get used to learning online, working, and living under one roof. Focus on trying your best these next few weeks, knowing that you’ll need to make adjustments as you go and that mistakes will happen. Be easy on yourself when they do.

Be patient with your child’s teacher

Remember, your child’s teacher is also doing the best they can. Depending on the school, online learning may be new to them, too. Accept that they are also learning. Provide feedback to your child’s teacher, so they know what’s working and what’s not. Be sure to let the teacher know if your child is helping watch other siblings if they are sharing a computer with siblings, or any other obstacles that may impact your child’s ability to comply with various requests.

Be mindful of when you discuss COVID-19

Remember, your children hear everything. Decide how much you wish to share with them. Limit how much news and social media they are exposed to.

One of my friends is now taking all of her video calls in her bedroom. This way, her child cannot hear coworkers discussing their worries. Allow your child time to ask questions and express their concerns. It’s ok to say, “I don’t know” if you don’t know the answer to something.

Now let’s get organized

Many families are coming up with schedules during this “stay home” period. Think about what works best for your family. Here are some ideas to incorporate into your day. These can be done in any order.

  • Read aloud or independent reading

  • Nature exploration — get outside!

  • Rest/Quiet time (applicable for any age)

  • Snack time

  • Journaling or writing time (if they are younger they can draw)

  • Tech time with devices

  • Movement breaks

  • Chores

  • Math exploration

  • Creative time (get out the recycling and build)

  • End of the day circle (the whole family gets together and reflects on their day)

Create new norms

Just like in school, students help create rules/norms for different activities and areas in the classroom. At home, you should do the same. Think about device use, how to act when parents are off-limits because they are on calls, noise level, clean up expectations, etc. Create these norms and post them in the appropriate areas around your house. Don’t have any chart paper? Use a whiteboard marker and write on the windows or sliding glass doors.

Other tips:

  • Create a personal space for each family member to work or relax alone. Explain to young children that just like in school when your teacher is working with someone else and you can’t bother them, they can’t bother you, either.

  • Utilize timers for younger children, so they know when it’s time to move on to the next activity.

  • Your child is missing their teacher. Let them write a letter, create a video, sing a song, etc. to send to them.

  • Remember, kids, love choice. Give them a few ideas to choose from. See my choice board here. You can print it out, post it, and check off the activities as you go.

  • Get Osmo for your iPad. A collection of great games to engage any young learner.

Create new family rituals:

  • Start a family gratitude journal where each morning or evening you write down what your family is grateful for.

  • Create different themes for dinner time. Maybe one night, everyone dresses up as their favorite cartoon character.

  • Think of creative ways to document your time at home. Create a daily video, journal entry, or drawing logging the happenings your family experienced that day.

  • Get your family moving! Check out Go Noodle for fun family song and dance breaks.

  • Have your child write to a loved one near or far.

  • Create a video of you or your child reading their favorite book and send it to a family member.

Where can you get new books?

There are many online resources offering books for students. Epic books is a great one with tons of books to choose from. Many libraries now have online books you can take out digitally. If you have a favorite children’s book, many of them can be found on Youtube with a teacher (or even the author!) reading them. Don’t forget about podcasts! There are so many out there for the whole family. We are enjoying Six Minutes right now.

Most of all, take care of yourself!

If the grownups in the house aren’t doing well, life can’t continue smoothly. So take time for yourself.

  • Download the Insight Timer app and try meditating. It has excellent affirmations and meditations for children, too.

  • Take advantage of online fitness programs. Peloton is offering its app free for 90 days. There are tons of classes you can take from your phone, iPad, or TV.

  • Keep yourself healthy with Turmeric Tea (Golden Milk):

  • 2 cups of any kind of milk,

  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or raw honey,

  • a couple of slices of fresh ginger,

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric,

  • 1teaspoon cinnamon,

  • a dash of pepper,

  • a dash of cayenne.

  • Mix the ingredients together and then warm up in a pot on the stove.

  • Relax and drink.

  • Lighten your house cleaning load by involving everyone in chores. Check out how Tara Theuson manages chores in her house.

There are many apps to connect us with friends, but Marco Polo is a lifesaver now with our busy lives at home. A friend or family member records a quick video to send to you. You can watch it when it’s convenient for you and then you can send one back. I look forward to waking up in the morning and having a few Marco Polos from my favorite people.

Most of all, remember tomorrow is a new day and you can try again! You’ve got this!

Want more ideas? Check out this link here.

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