7 Tips for Easy Elementary Distance and Online Learning
Back to school is evolving, Things are anything but normal. If you are anything like me- you feel crazy! This was going to be my golden year with a Second Grader and a Kindergartner. Both in full-time school, NOT! Trying my very best to be positive but I feel like a kid at Christmas who has been pining for a certain gift only to get the gift they “need” instead of the gift they “WANT”! We are very blessed in my house that all my side hustles allow me to be here and helping my kiddos easily through this new back to school. As I try to wrap my head around how this is all going to go I came up with 7 Tips for Easy Elementary Distance and Online Learning.
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1. Set a Strong Yet Flexible Daily Schedule
Schedules can be motivating, boundary setting, and routine making. Giving yourself and your kiddos schedule can keep you on track and help everyone meet their daily goals. A feeling of accomplishment that is very important to mental health can come from following a schedule.
Kids, especially the little ones thrive when they know what to expect. Schedules can even be wonderful catalysts for getting your kids to practice more independence. I have an entire post dedicated to Schedule for the Stay at Home Mom. Some of the most important parts for a Daily Distance Learning Schedule include:
- School Mandated Synchronous or Asynchronous Learning
- Outside Playtime, Fresh Air, and Exercise
- Meal Times
- Reading Time/ Quiet Time
- Creative/ Hobby Time
- Monitor Screen Time (Helpful Screen Time Tips Here)
Remember schedules need to be flexible for everyone’s sanity. Some days things just wont line up and you need to do the best you can with how the cookie crumbles.
2. Create a Focused but Flexible Learning Environment
Learning at school keeps most kids more focused. Everything in that environment is made to direct them to the best learning. I am not going to encourage you to create an entire classroom in your home! That would be too much money, to much work, and probably take up to much space. There are some ways to create areas to help your kid focus and learn from home.
Limit distractions, make it fun, be prepared, and follow teacher directives.
- Choose an area away from toys and TV.
- Make it special and personalized. Get them to help you create it.
- Have all supplies and a snack ready and in an arms reach to limit distractions. Use storage baskets to keep everything handy.
- Early elementary students can benefit from some learning aids. The alphabet, number line, and sight word wall are some helpful tools to have available.
- Listen to the teacher’s requests.
- Bonus: If doing Syncronus learning- make sure to have a headset with a microphone and try your best to put the computer in a well-lit area.
How to set up a word wall
- Print and cut the letters out. Post the alphabet with space under each letter to hang words that begin with that letter.
- Print and cut the words. Read them with your child as you hang them or have you child practice letter recognition as they hang the words.
- Use the word wall when practicing the sight words or writing.
3. Monitor Your Expectations
These are our babies! They are learning and growing and constantly in our care. It goes without saying that we want the best for them and we want them to succeed! Sitting right with them at every step and helping with answers is not helpful. You can’t do it all for them! On the other hand, you can’t expect them to master everything and complete all expectations independently. We need to focus on the gray area of expectations.
I expected my First grader to do a lot when we finished the year with distance learning. He would get frustrated with me often but I felt, “I know he can do this! It’s not that hard.” One day after a particularly long and tearful writing session I had a thought- “I taught first grade! My expectation for the kids in my class wasn’t this extreme. I need to go about this a different way.” That is easier said than done. My husband suggested I set a timer. it was better for both of us. At school, there are time limits for getting work done and here I was just making him work until he finished my standard.
Try to still make the learning fun while also achieving the daily assignments. Having a time limit is a good compromise as long as the student is working and focused during that time.
As for that other end of the spectrum- you will be amazed and what your child can do independently. If you struggle here, try just sitting quietly in the room first and then move to leave for little stretches of time. When I did my teacher poll on Distance learning this was one of the biggest suggestions- Don’t be a Helicopter parent.
Final thought for this section- be encouraging and positive!
You catch more flies with honey right?! If you want your kids to enjoy something to have to model how! Show your interest and happiness with this new way of learning.
4. Don’t Forget Meals
Hunger is a very easy way for any person to get distracted from their goals and assignments. Kids especially need to EAT! Make sure to have a good breakfast in the morning before “school” begins.
Kids are not used to being given snacks at school but they aren’t at school.
Snacks happen on special occasions, but normally they only have lunch. This learning from home is not “normal”. It is a good idea to have some planned snack times. Food is motivating and most of the time we have a snack at home for our kiddo. You can add those snack times into the schedule or have a snack station at the ready for your kiddos to get their own.
Lunch should hold the same importance. It is a good time to have a brain break. Stop working and enjoy some food! If you need to work and are thinking that making lunch might interrupt your time, then make lunches in the morning or the night before like you would if you were sending them to school. You can even take this time to build responsibility and have them prepare their own lunch. Here is a super cool lunch making guide for your kiddo to learn and follow.
5. Exercise and Fresh Air
Exercise = Happy Endorphins! It makes you feel good and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Having a daily practice of getting moving is very important. It will help you kiddos focus more and give them an outlet for the pent up energy they will build sitting in front of a computer screen.
The social distancing guidelines in place make many of the organized sports and organized active outings more difficult. Don’t give up! There are many places changing their procedures just like schools are, to make things happen. If you want to keep things close to home, I recommend a daily family walk or bike ride. When the weather changes and we need to be inside more programs like Go Noodle offer lots of movement and exercise based fun for your family.
When having to spend so much more time then normal at the computer its important to remember the world is out there. Nature can have a great balancing effect. Make sure to get outside some even when it gets cold. Nature walks, star gazing, bird watching, etc.
6. Use Your Village
This can sometimes feel like an antiquated idea but it is sooooo important. You are not the only one in this situation. Many other parents are going though this same change and are having the same struggle. Reach out to your friends, fellow school and extra curricular parent peers, family, and neighbors for support, commiseration, ideas, and sanity!
But I don’t have a Village! How can I get one? I have seen several school centered Facebook groups stating up. You can go here to look for peer support to help your kids with the school work, look for parents ready to have small social distance appropriate play groups, and many even people willing to help with babysitting.
I am hoping some schools will encourage parents to come together and support each other with community emails or computer conferences. If not you could take up this torch and help your students community by leading one of these groups.
One more idea: Here is a Blog Post I wrote on Finding New Mom Friends!
7. Treat Yo Self!
The best part of goals and accomplishments are celebrating them! When your kiddo finishes for the day celebrate! Staying focused, finishing work, having a good video chat- celebrate it!!!
Kids and parents alike need to treat themselves! Just remember, everything in moderation. To many treats can become not motivating. Keeping things healthy and relevant can have the most impact.
Treat Yo-Self Kid Ideas
- Ice Cream and Candy
- Game with Parent
- Extra Screen Time
- Parent does Chore
- Dance Party
- Stuffed Animals
- Movie/ Popcorn Night
Treat Yo-Self Parent Ideas
- Adult Drinks
- Mom or Dad Night Out
- Sleep in Morning
- Take out/ Delivery Dinner
- Netflix Watching Blankie
This year of Back to School is sure to be a challenge.
Please remember to try your best. Your kids will mirror your reactions and responses. If you are negative then so will they. One of the biggest challenges I saw in the Spring was parents feeling disjointedness, their children we not having the “expected” experiences. This is not fun but I want to remind you that many of these experiences are things we adults have expectations over. Kids usually don’t have those expectations over things they have not experienced. We parents have the power to help shape their expectations and our own to make it through this year in the most positive way possible!!!
7 Tips for Easy Elementary Distance and Online Learning is full of positive suggestions to make this back to school transition as easy as possible.