I was a public school teacher for twelve years before I stepped away from the classroom two years ago. So let me begin by saying to all the teachers – I SEE YOU. But I also am currently trying to run a business and now navigating this new world of virtual learning at home. Is it ideal? Absolutely not. But will it work – yes. It definitely can and WILL work but you need to put forth some effort too. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the impossibility factor if you are a work from home parent. But I do want to offer some advice for families who are navigating this new virtual world in hopes that it will make your experience just a bit more successful. So here are some virtual learning tips to help families get started on a positive note!
Here are five tips and tricks for a successful virtual learning experience:
Set up a workspace
Your first step should be setting up a workspace that your child can use before, during and after lessons. Find a place that is quiet, well-lit and with limited distractions. (I have three kids, I understand this isn’t always possible!) Bedrooms are an easy place to start by setting up a small desk or table and allowing your child to customize their space to make it their own. Understandably, desks may not be an option for everyone. A quick and simple solution is to set up a space at the dining room or kitchen table. Then, using a trifold poster board, you can create an office-like cubicle that will limit your child’s distractions while they are in a virtual lesson. Your child can easily personalize their space and it can also be folded up and put away at the end of the school day.
2. Ensure You Have Proper Technology
Considering all of these lessons will be done electronically, it’s important you have technology you can rely on. I ended up investing in a Chromebook for my first grader for under $200 because the iPad just wasn’t going to work. Your school district will also provide you with the technology you need to complete your virtual learning so be sure to take advantage of that! That includes internet too – some districts are having buses sent out into neighborhoods to provide free wifi to families who need it during the school day.
3. Stock Up On Supplies
While you may already have a bunch of school supplies, save those for the classroom! (Hopefully, we will make it back in there – let’s cross our fingers together!) Right now is the perfect time to stock up on necessities like pencils, notebooks, crayons, and markers. Grab some glue sticks and printer paper too. Those are the things that we used daily in our classroom so it will come as no surprise when it’s needed often during virtual learning too!
4. Structure and Consistency
Create a schedule and stick with it as much as possible. Not only will your child thrive on the structure but it will make your life easier too if you know what is coming ahead! Rachel, the owner of The Simple Life, suggested keeping a visual schedule for your child to be able to reference before and during their lessons. Another great tip is to set a timer for 5 minutes before your kid is supposed to log in to their lessons. That way you can make sure you are never late! Because trust me – that time will go by quickly.
5. Hang On to That Patience
This will be a learning curve for everyone involved – the teachers, administrators, and of course the families. And while it’s easy to get hot, remember that patience is the best course of action to be successful. If something doesn’t work or you can’t log on, make sure you have your district’s technology hotline on hand. If that course of action doesn’t work, step away, shoot your child’s teacher a quick (and kind) email letting them know the situation but return back to it as soon as you get a resolution. It’s going to take a few weeks to get all the bumps worked out so be patient and understanding because this is the only way we will be able to get through this together.
Remember, virtual learning and e-learning are two totally different experiences. What we went through in March at the peak of the pandemic was survival mode. There was so much unknown territory and we were all just trying to wade through those choppy waters together until summer break. Now, the virtual learning experience we are currently doing is academic lessons that have been planned and prepped by educators with the intent to set up students for success for the remainder of the year. The ultimate goal is that we won’t have to be in this virtual setting for too long. But with state of the pandemic, I think it’s important that we all head into it with the expectations that it can most definitely be going longer than we want it to go. Regardless, let’s give our teachers some grace because they are doing the best they possibly can in an almost impossible situation.