12 ways to make distance learning a success for your family
Distance learning has been an adventure for parents, students, and teachers alike as they work to maintain the high quality of in-person learning through a digital platform. This is new territory for a lot of people, and we have some ideas on how you can make the digital days a little more manageable.
1. Plan, Plan, Plan
There are so many unknowns that come with digital learning, so taking care of the known obstacles will help you free up some time. For instance, you might go ahead and plan and prep your meals for the week over the weekend, or arrange for work calls to be taken during school breaks if you are working from home.
2. Make a Schedule
You may think you can keep everything organized in your head, because that’s what you do as a parent anyway. But for distance learning, consider making a schedule that everyone can see. If your children aren’t reading yet, you can use pictures instead of words to give everyone an idea of how the day will go.
3. Set the Scene
If possible, create a space that is exclusively for digital learning. That way, you can keep your school materials organized, while also giving your kids the chance to leave school behind at the end of the day, just like they would if they were there in person.
4. Be Flexible
There will be a day where nothing works right. The laptop won’t turn on. A rogue tree limb will knock out the power. Your internet connection will be spotty. These days will be frustrating, but it’s important to go with the flow as much as you can. Distance learning is new to everyone, so keep an open mind and do some deep breathing to get through the tough times.
5. Communicate Often
The only way to get answers to your questions is to ask them! If you or your child are struggling to navigate the distance learning world due to a lack of understanding or communication, reach out for help, either to other parents or the teacher. Your question may be shared by other people, and working together will allow you to find a solution more quickly.
6. Take Breaks
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that many people, and especially kids, do not love being trapped inside their houses for months at a time. Be intentional in planning and taking breaks with your family, whether that means taking a walk around the yard or having a movie night together. School will be waiting for you when you return, so go ahead and take five minutes to relax.
7. Get School Supplies
Just because you’re learning from home doesn’t mean you won’t need those glue sticks! Many schools have released modified supply lists that will allow your child to thrive from home. You can even let your kids be part of the fun and pick out some supplies of their own, like a hot pink pencil box or some neon markers.
8. Create a Local Group
If you have some neighbors or local friends who have children, why not create a group where you can all get together for distance learning? This will allow you to reach out to other parents who are in the same boat and give you some much-needed mental and emotional support. Meanwhile, your kids can benefit from having older kids to help them understand more difficult concepts.
9. Prepare for Video Calls
Many teachers are doing live lessons over video platforms to teach new material. This means your child will need to be able to access video calls – and it also means you need to remember that you may be on camera. It’s up to you to determine what that means for your family, but if your child decides not to wear pants that day, odds are high that his teacher and class will know.
10. Pretend Everyone is at School
No, we are not suggesting you leave your six-year-old at home and head to the store alone. But you and your children should act like a typical school day is in session. This means making appointments for after-school hours as much as possible, eliminating other distractions, and showing up on time and prepared to learn.
11. Set Expectations
When your child is on a computer or tablet most of the day, they will eventually find their way to Minecraft. Talk with your child ahead of time about what they need to be doing during school hours, and set up a time in your schedule for them to have some free time. This is a win-win – they get the information they need while still having the freedom to do what they love later in the day.
12. Find a Balance
While it is important to treat distance learning like a regular day, it’s also important to remember that some days will be harder than others. Don’t be afraid to skip a lesson and come back to it later if it’s causing your child to stress. You’re their caregiver and you know better than anyone what will help them thrive and learn.
Distance learning has been an interesting turn of events for everyone, but you can make it work! Prepare as much as possible and team up with others to handle the unique aspects that will make this school year a memorable one.