At this juncture in the school year, every parent deserves a gold star. Unless you were already homeschooling your children, this is not what you signed on for…so give yourself, and your kids, a break.
Until the official end, until it is truly over and graduations and moving-up ceremonies have taken place, we still need to keep the students focused, motivated, and moving. It’s more challenging this year than ever before as kids (and parents) are feeling burned out, tired of zoom and missing all of the fun parts of school with friends, events and activities – even sharing the lunch table or recess. It might just require some more ingenuity and stamina, but trust me, you have got this, too.
Different Learning Styles
We all learn differently; some of us are more tactile while others more visual. Recognize your child’s learning style and approach it accordingly. If he needs to solve math problems with tangible items, let him choose a favorite snack for counting or multiplying; when he completes his homework, he gets to eat the treat!
However, if your child needs to see the problem written out, find the visual space for her to create on a white board or computer program to achieve her success. You do not have to be an expert in the subject but simply have an understanding of how your child learns. Utilize his or her teacher as a resource because they want your child’s achievement as much as you do.
Keep Them Moving
Sitting at a desk AND in front of a computer creates a sedentary environment. Require your kids to take a break and just move it, move it. It does not have to be a marathon run but a jog up the stairs or to the end of the driveway. Suggest jumping jacks in the hallway or yoga stretches in the fresh air. Get them to rejuvenate before they have to return to their school work.
I have seen pictures on social media of 5-year olds slumped over their computers, unable to sit still and endure another virtual class. Try having your children stand for a portion of their lesson or day to keep them focused. Find a table or counter their height and set up the computer so they can stand while tuning in to the teacher.
Noise can break anyone’s concentration, so eliminate the external distractions you can control. Silence phones, dogs, and doorbells when possible.
There is a good chance you are working AND assisting your children with their virtual learning, so make sure everyone has their own decluttered work space. Respect each other’s space and time needed to do their work.
If you see your child’s eyes roaming or mind wandering, give them the break they need. Remember what it was like to be a kid in a traditional classroom (Snowflakes outside? Major distraction); now imagine what it is like for our children to be learning at home surrounded by work detractors. Allow them the time to sow their oats before getting back to the task at hand.
Reward System: Plan in Advance
When the novelty of learning from home starts to wear off, keep it fresh by implementing a reward system. Make it fun, keep it simple and don’t be afraid to get silly. A reward system will keep your youngsters engaged on days when the material gets challenging or the online system shuts down (you know it’s going to happen, so be prepared!).
Don’t lose your cool but rather contain the situation by relying on your creativity: Bring a Pet to School Day, Go to the Head of the Class for getting an A on a test, Teacher for the Day, Study in Nature (go outdoors!), Wear Your Slippers to Class, Eat Lunch at Your Desk, or Phone a Friend (think life line!). The possibilities are limitless. You’ve got this!
Make the Most of this Together Time
If you find your family still ensconced in either a hybrid or virtual form of school, break up the tedium by creating Theme Days once a week or once a month. Include your children in the planning or naming of the themes to give them ownership in this stay-at-home learning style. For instance try a Make it a Marshmallow Monday Sandwich Day or Taco Tuesday Lunchtime where the kids can get involved with some hands-on participation.
If you go with a theme day in the kitchen, complete the ensemble with a chef’s hat like the cafeteria workers! Don’t limit it to lunch time; PE and music class can also have themes of their own: Triathlon Thursday or Rock-n-Roll Revival may work in your home with minimal planning.
What may seem tedious – you cannot imagine another day like this – can have a happy, rewarding ending. Think patience mixed in with an understanding of what your child truly needs to succeed and add some ingenious creativity into the pot. You. Have. Got. This.