“My kids learning at home on computers for a semester? How am I going to make distance learning successful for them?” These were the thoughts racing through my mind four weeks ago when I found out that distance learning was going to be a reality in our home until at least January.
I immediately began researching how to make this as easy as possible, while still setting high academic expectations for my kids. I found some great tips and tricks to make distance learning successful for your children. Here are 10 Strategies for Distance Learning Success!
#1 — Establish Routines and Expectations
The first thing I did was put together a schedule. I have three kiddos, all in different grades, so each of them has a schedule taped above their workspace, as well as in the front of their schoolwork binder. They know when they need to log in to class to have face-to-face sessions with their teachers, and when to be working on independent activities.
I’ve also scheduled in lunch and a couple of breaks (we all need them from time to time… LOL). Keep the routines that you had when they were going to school (get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, etc.). Also make sure that they continue the rules and expectations at home too.
Strategy #2 — Choose a Good Place to Learn
Create an individual space for each child to have as their “classroom”. Make sure that it is free of distractions, quiet, and has a good internet connection. You will need to monitor your child’s work throughout the day, so keep doors open and the space somewhere that you can check in sometimes.
I also purchased a set of headphones for each of my kiddos to drown out background noise and other distractions.
#3 — Stay in Touch with Teachers
Now more than ever, communication with your child’s teacher is extremely important. Read the emails you receive. Make sure you ask questions if you or your child do not understand an assignment. Stay up to date with your school and district information on distance learning and reopening plans.
Just remember to be patient for the responses. The teachers are trying to navigate all of this too. 😉
Strategy #4 — Help Your Children “Own” Their Learning
There is a HUGE difference between “helping” your children be successful and “doing” work for them. No one expects you to be their full-time teacher, or an expert on all of their subjects. Offer encouragement and guidance when needed, and know that allowing them to struggle a bit is a good thing. Becoming an independent learner is a great trait to have.
#5 — Quiet Time and Reflection
If you are like me, with kiddos in different grades (5th, 2nd, and Pre-K), as well as working or teaching from home yourself, there may be a need for some QUIET TIME! Let’s face it, this is going to be hectic for awhile and you all have obligations and responsibilities that need to get done. When the school day has ended, it may be a good idea to “unplug” and have some down time. This is a perfect time to schedule in some “independent reading”. 😉
Strategy #6 — Start and Finish with a “Check In”
Start the morning off on a positive note and make sure that you know what they are responsible for learning today. You might ask… “What classes/subjects/specials do you have today?”, “Do you have any tests today?”, or “Is there anything today that I can help you with?.
After the “school day” is done, you want to check in again. This time you may ask… “How was your day?”, “Did you find anything difficult or easy?”, or “Were you able to get everything done today?” This way, you are staying on top of their learning and progress as well.
#7 — Get Up and Get Moving
Make sure that you all take “brain breaks” throughout the day. Schedule in some physical exercise (even a quick walk down the street or around the block) to let off some steam and get some fresh air. We also have a list of some excellent Brain Break Videos you can use to get your kiddos moving and having fun at home.
#8 — Let’s Just Go with the Flow
I have had to take quite a few deep breaths and know that “flexibility” is a key word right now. We are all dealing with a lot of changes right now… change in routine, change in environment, change in our way of life. It is important for us adults to remain calm, so that our kiddos know that everything is going to be OKAY. Remember to laugh, smile, and enjoy spending time with each other as we navigate this distance learning thing.
Strategy #9 — Limit the Screens
Our children are spending enough time glued to their computer screens for school. Try to limit out of school time screen usage. Maybe less video games and TV watching in the afternoon will allow them to be involved in activities that don’t contain a “screen”. Get out and get some fresh air when school is not in session.
#10 — Maintain Social Connections
One of the biggest benefits of going to school is making social connections with your peers. Our children will definitely miss spending time with their friends. Try to encourage social interactions. Your kiddos can call their friends, FaceTime, send emails, or have play dates (if you are comfortable with that). Maintaining friendships will definitely help keep our students emotional health positive as well.
These 10 Strategies for Distance Learning Success have really helped me to set my own children up to tackle virtual learning. It is a new adventure for all of us, teachers, parents, and children, but together we can make it successful. We would love to hear any other success strategies you may have for making distance learning work at home. Please share in the comments below.
~ Written by Janessa Fletcher
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