Tips for Online Learning at Home
As I am sure you all have heard in the news, and locally, there are a lot of debates on whether it is better to send kids into schools or continue with online learning in the fall. There are many factors to take into consideration, and it seems like whatever is chosen is still concerning. Parents who are back to work may have to figure out a plan for their kids to continue with online learning. The first part of this blog series spoke about tips for managing the stress of sending kids back into schools, now this part will discuss tips for working with kids at home through online learning.
Working from Home
Online learning is difficult enough, and now add the layer of one or both parents also working from home. How do you get your work done while still making sure the kids get their schoolwork completed? The first step, remember, you are not alone, and it will not be perfect – and that is okay.
What you can do
Create a routine. The more structure you have with a routine, the easier this will be. Start with what needs to happen when they wake up and end with the bedtime routine. The first thing you may want to do is find out what the expectations are for online learning. Ask your school how many hours a day they should be expected to do online learning. This will vary based on age, so it is important to know ahead of time. This article from healthychildren.org gives great tips on how to manage each age group from infants to teenagers.
After you figure out the basis of what is expected, come up with the schedule (this may have to be different if you have multiple kids in multiple age groups.) It is vital to set break times during the online learning part. If you have them going back to back on subjects, they are going to burn out quickly during the day. Think about how often they have small breaks at school- getting up to use the restroom, getting a drink of water, walking from classroom to classroom, etc. These breaks need to be built-in. Try and create time for a stretch break or snack break. One final thing to remember, this may need to be adjusted once you start doing the routine. If something is not working, adapt, and change the routine until you can find one that seems solid enough to work! And remember to create a routine for yourself as well. Build-in breaks for playtime when they also have a break.
Create a workspace. Just like it would be suggested for adults who are working from home, create a space that is meant for learning and separate it from “play-time” areas. When you do not separate the spaces, it can become confusing to them when it is time to learn, and when it is time to play. Create an environment akin to a mini classroom where they can make their own name tags or let them create the space they want to. This will promote creativity while getting them excited to go into their learning space. When “school” is done, make sure to try and separate playtime to another room or area. You can also create your own workspace, either near theirs or in a different area depending on the layout. Explain to them that you also have a workspace that is used for working. Kids love to model their parents so if you can relate to them in this way, they may love this idea!
Limit Distractions. When you are working on the routine and schedule, put in specific breaks for television or other devices. When they are on those breaks, they can utilize them, but when it is time to learn, keep the television and devices off. Kids are used to being in a classroom with limited distractions because they are designed that way, so this may be a difficult task to recreate. But if you can do your best to eliminate distractions you can control; it will make things a lot smoother.
What you can do
Virtual Play Dates. When kids realize they may not be going back into the classroom this fall, they are most likely going to feel sad and even more distant from their friends and classmates. One of the worries of online learning is that kids may not be getting the social interactions they need to grow. It is going to be more difficult to promote this, but with everything in our lives right now, we must adapt in the best way that we can. Schedule virtual games with their friends, or if you are comfortable, socially distant play dates outside where there is enough room to be safe. You can also allow them to FaceTime their friends or classmates. Anything to help them see that they can still talk with their friends, just in a different way.
Play Games as a Family. This will not only help with your kid’s social development, but it will also help you to have family time and a break from your own work. Set a time each day for a family game or puzzle, if possible. Even if it is not every day, try and put something on the schedule that you and they can look forward to. Maybe it is Friday pizza and movie nights or Saturday game nights.
What you can do
Resources. If you and/or your partner are essential workers, this may be more difficult since you are not able to be home with the kids. Check with your employer to see if they have any help for you during this time. You can also check out local resources such as babysitters, or schoolteachers that are coming into homes to help. This is a great resource specifically for essential workers and childcare centers based off your area/state.
As previously stated, the most important thing to remember is you are not alone, and you are doing the best that you can. It will take some time to adapt both for yourself, and your kids. There may be times of struggle, and it is important to ask yourself, what is not working. Once you figure out the pain points, you can develop solutions and create an effective way to juggle work, while the kids are at home online learning. Be patient with yourself, your kids, and educators as you are all learning how to navigate this new normal.
Child Care for Essential Workers. (2020, April 17). Retrieved July 23, 2020, from https://www.strongnation.org/articles/1171-child-care-for-essential-workers
Cross, C. (2020, June 16). Working and Learning from Home During the COVID-19 Outbreak. Retrieved July 23, 2020, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Working-and-Learning-from-Home-COVID-19.aspx
Korb, D. (2020, June 16). Age-Based Tips to Help Juggle Parenting & Working at Home During COVID-19. Retrieved July 23, 2020, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Tips-to-Juggle-Parenting-and-Working-at-Home-COVID-19.aspx