Just to give you some background on me. I have three kids, two of whom are school age. I am also a teacher. I work from home and have for the last four years. I just started my seventh year teaching for an online public school.
Many of us may find ourselves in the position at some point this school year doing online school from home. Some have chosen it for the whole year, some may be forced into it. Regardless, a lot of us will share this experience. Whether you choose it or not, it is hard!
I have taught in that space for quite some time and have picked up some tips from my experience that hopefully help some of you. Don’t worry, I also have to remind myself of these same things as my oldest daughter does remote schooling this year. I see you. You got this.
Having a consistent schedule, rhythm, or routine is really important, especially when you are at home. The potential for distractions is so much higher, making it important to have some sort of general structure to your day. This does not mean that you need a down-to-the-minute schedule if that is not your style, but having some sort of routine and expected series of events is important. This will allow your child to know what to expect and when. Chances are they are used to having a pretty rigid schedule at school anyway, so mimicking this at home will help them feel like they are in the classroom.
Allow your child to do as much as possible when it comes to using the technology required. If you have a younger child, there might be more of a learning curve here but showing them how to do things rather than doing them yourself will pay dividends as the year goes on and they gain more and more independence. Show them how to enter a Zoom meeting, how to save documents and organize them for easy access on the computer, and so on. Post passwords for various commonly-used accounts near their workspace. This will not only be helpful for your child but also any adult who may be helping with school at some point during the year. Searching, losing, and resetting passwords can all cause unnecessary stress and waste time that you don’t have.
Having a dedicated online school space is a good way to distinguish playtime from school time. It does not have to be fancy but having a space to go with limited distractions and all the materials needed can make school time easier. You can get your child involved by picking out a fun pencil holder or other desk accessories, making artwork to hang on the wall, and organizing books and other school materials they may need.
Use your teachers. We are there to help. Please don’t wait until you are pulling your hair out and at your wits end to call or email. We do not want you to be stressed. We want to help you. If you have a question, even if it seems silly to you, ask it. There is nothing worse than struggling for hours, maybe even days trying to figure something out when you have a resource ready and willing at your fingertips.
Yep, this goes against number one but we do number one so we can do this, too. Lean into the flexibility online schooling provides. Make the schedule, but if it’s a gorgeous day, take a break and go for a long walk. Have a school space but if you need a change in scenery, do school snuggled up on the couch or outside. If you need a day off, take one and make up the hours or assignments another day or in the evening or on the weekend. It’s ok to break the “rules” every once in a while. Chances are you and your child will walk away feeling more refreshed and ready to tackle the next thing when you give yourself the freedom to be flexible.