These tips will help you prepare for an effective virtual school year.
School is starting and for many, looks very different than usual! All virtual learning for some, in school and virtual some days, in person with masks for others. The one consistent component, without a doubt, this school year is new and presents unique challenges. You probably didn’t go to school to be a teacher (if you did you now have a child in a new situation and a classroom to teach. BLESS YOU!) and you now have to figure out how to be the parent, teacher, janitor, AND counselor. You’re also transforming your house into a classroom as well as a home. So, to make the best of this situation, here are some tips to help your child adjust to virtual learning and to make virtual learning as effective as possible.
Refocus YOUR Attitude
Children learn about coping skills and how they should deal with a situation in real time, often by what they hear and see from people they trust. Be aware of what YOU are saying and whom you’re saying it in front of. Go into this school year, no matter what it looks like or how you really feel about it, exuding optimism and confidence when around your children!
Avoid any first day frustrations by having all technology logistics figured out ahead of time. Set up the device, practice logging in, and make sure you have a reliable internet connection.
Setting Up a Routine is Key
Without the same expectation of leaving the house for school everyday, it’s all too easy to let strict routines slip by the wayside. Come up with a routine and stick to it! In your routine be sure to include: wake time, getting ready for the day, meals and snacks, a timed recess and outdoor breaks.
For the youngest learners, transitions are often difficult, so give them fair warning when a transition is coming up. Better yet, use a timer! Also be sure to have realistic expectations and build in lots of breaks throughout the day!
Designated Learning Space
No more couch lounging during Zoom calls! Have a space that is designated for school and make it special! Let your child pick out school supplies and have a say in what their space looks like. Just make sure that distractions are kept to a minimum. This means turn off notifications on the tablet, have the TV off, keep the dog in a different room, etc.
Provide Positive Feedback
Reinforcing their students is second nature to the best teachers! Children will be missing out on receiving reinforcement from their teachers. The key to maintaining a positive attitude and motivation is building a reward system! Praise your child for working hard and completing simple tasks. For more difficult tasks, consider a reward! A gold star, sticker, smily face, or an unscheduled break goes a long way!
Maintain Social Relationships
Your kids will miss (and probably are already missing) physically being with other kids and their friends the way they normally are in school. In order to teach social skills, children need the opportunity to practice respectful interactions, working together, and responding appropriately to conflict.
For younger kids, set up virtual playdates or snack time with friends. For these to be effective, plan ahead of time what activities the kids can do together online.
For older students, have them coordinate online homework sessions with friends or have virtual lunchtime.
It may feel like it, but remember that you’re not alone in this journey. Check in with your child’s teacher, talk to parents to see what they’ve found effective, or ask for help when you need it.