Whether your kids are going to school in-person or virtually, the shift in regulations starting in 2020 will likely affect them drastically. But these changes don't have to destroy the school year. In this blog post, we go over a few helpful tips for adjusting to the virtual learning landscape for Delaware children. Check them out below.
1. Adjust Expectations
It goes without saying that virtual learning differs in many regards from classroom learning. Yet as parents, it’s easy to assume that the routine will be comparable, except that learning will occur in the home rather than at school. The first piece of advice teachers and administrators give parents, however, is to adjust their expectations. Successful virtual learning depends on a close partnership between parents and teachers, so there will certainly be a bigger time investment required from parents.
Particularly for younger children, it’s crucial for parents to view e-learning as an opportunity to work on important life skills that teachers typically instill in the classroom, especially self-motivation and self-discipline. Below, we’ll discuss a few pointers to help parents, in partnership with teachers, come alongside their students for a successful at-home learning experience. Many of these tips are drawn from the CDC and the Delaware Department of Education.
2. Research Ahead of Time
Preparation is one of the most important keys to success. Learn as much as you can ahead of time about what your children’s school schedules will look like. For example, will they participate in live video classes, watch pre-recorded videos, or complete homework modules on their own time? Just as importantly, share everything you learn with you children so that they know what to expect as they adjust to e-learning.
3. Stay Connected to the School
The best way to know what school will look like for your children and what support is available to your family is to stay connected to your school by attending school meetings with teachers, support staff, and administration. Remember that you and your teachers are working in a closer partnership than ever to create a successful year for your students, and for that reason, it’s fine to proactively reach out to your school with questions too.
These questions don’t need to be entirely about academics, either, as your teachers and school counselors may have suggestions about how to help students adjust emotionally as well as mentally to a new model. Additionally, if your child has a 504 or IEP or receives therapy of any kind, be sure to ask school specialists how your child can receive virtual support.
4. Create a Routine
Sit down as a family to get an understanding of everyone’s schedule, and then create a master routine so you know who’s doing school when, who’s working when, etc. Discussing this as a family can be very helpful in keeping one another accountable. Routines give us peace and sanity, so it’s all the more important to create and follow schedules when we’re adjusting to a new way of life.
5. Create a Designated School Space
Just like adults needed to create a designated office space at home when many companies shifted to working remotely, creating a designated space for your children to do their school work can help them stay motivated and focused. Our physical environments tell us how we should act - when we walk into the office, we know to dress a certain way, maintain a certain level of professionalism, and stay focused on work-related tasks, and when we enter our homes, we know we can relax by changing our clothes, our posture, and our conversation. Setting up a designated zone that is used for school, and only for school, is one of the simplest and most effective “tricks” we can play on our minds and bodies to help us compartmentalize and focus.
6. Ensure You Have the Necessary Tech Infrastructure
Make sure your school area has all the necessary supplies for success. Aside from desks, papers, pencils, and computers, you’ll also want to check that your tech infrastructure is up to speed. For example, if you have multiple students watching video classes simultaneously, and if you’re also working remotely, you may need to upgrade your Wi-Fi. Give it a trial run to see what your tech requirements will be once the school year starts in earnest.
7. Get Peer Support
It’s easy to focus solely on the academic aspect of school at home, but there will be a social adjustment as well. Check in with other families of your students’ classmates and see if you can form peer groups for safe social times and activities. Not everything can be done remotely, and your children will crave in-person time with friends all the more with a remote learning model, so see what opportunities you can create with those in your community.
8. Keep Communication Open in the Family
It’s never been so important for families to actively check in with each other to make sure everyone is taken care of. As there have been for all of us during times of social distancing, there will be new mental and emotional challenges with a new school model. Acknowledging this and openly communicating can work wonders in reducing stress and meeting emotional needs. Remember to ask your kids regularly how they’re doing.
9. Take Time Away from the Screen to Play
Building in recess time has never been more important! Make sure learning is physical as well as mental by scheduling in breaks to go outside and look at the trees, the flowers, and the sky. Even if it just means eating lunch outside or going on a walk after school, it’s important to take time away from the screen.
10. Establish Healthy Habits for Yourself
With the added pressures of working, taking care of the house, and helping your children with school, it can be easy to neglect your own needs. Make sure you take a step back and take care of yourself by eating well, taking breaks throughout the day, getting solid sleep, and finding ways to recreate and spend time with friends. Your children will be more successful when you take time to ensure your own mental, emotional, and physical health, not only because you’ll have more capacity to help them, but also because you are a role model for them.
11. Give Yourself and Your Children Grace
Last but not least, cut yourself some slack. This season has proved challenging for businesses, for families, for friendships, etc. We’re all adjusting and learning how to recreate our routines, and none of that comes easily. Be sure to give yourself grace, and be sure to give your children grace. Remember that it won’t go perfectly, and that’s ok. It’s an opportunity to grow together and form stronger relationships in our families, and we’ll all grow in patience with ourselves and each other along the way.