Tips for Distance Learning (while keeping your sanity!)
We all know that 2020 was a hard year for so many, and only a few weeks into 2021, it doesn’t look like it’s letting up anytime soon. I know many parents, like me, decided (or their district decided for them) that distance learning was the way to go for the foreseeable future. Now my story is a little different, we have be distance learning for the last 3 years due to my daughter being immunocompromised and having a condition that tires her out easily which made an 8 hour day at school tough on her. With that being said I have a little more insight into online learning as a whole than most that are just starting out.
So I thought I would share some of my tips for distance learning that are more practical for all than some I have been seeing. A lot of families don’t have a room they can dedicate as a learning room, they still have jobs they have to go to during the day while their kiddos are in class, and let’s be honest, sometimes it’s hard to get a child to sit on a computer for hours on end and actually pay attention to what is being taught! I totally get it, it’s hard! So let’s get started on how my family makes it work, and I hope some of my tips for distance learning will work for your family too!
Here are my tips for distance learning (while keeping your sanity!)
1.Get to know your technology! Seriously, if you know you are going to be spending time on your computer, take the time to sit down with your kids and really learn the programs you will be using. I don’t suggest the learn as you go approach, it just leads to frustration for all involved, I promise. Once you find out what you will be using, set aside a few hours and go over the different functions and features of the program. Do a few practice lessons, practice logging on and off, and bookmark EVERYTHING so it’s easy for your kid to find. Also make sure your computer is up to date, has an installed virus blocker, and if you feel like your kid might need it, set up parental controls so they can’t spend their school day playing online games when they should be in class. (ask me how I figured that one out, ha!)
2.Keep an open line of communication! Not only between you and the teacher, but you and your child! I know a lot of parents can’t be at their child’s side the entire time they are in class, so it’s important that you are keeping up with what they are doing in class, and if they need any extra support from you. It is really important to keep in communication with your teacher as well. They are dealing with tons of students all in different locations and trying to keep everyone in line and on task, so there is a good chance that they might have missed something when it comes to something your kiddo may need. Email them, call them! They can’t fix what they don’t know needs fixing. So before getting frustrated, just contact the teacher, I’m sure they will be more than happy to figure everything out and make this all easier for everyone involved. I’m also a big fan of compliments and reminding teachers that they are doing a great job, because let’s be honest, teachers are rock stars and distance learning is hard work!
3.Be flexible! I know of course everyone wants everything to go perfect everyday but I can assure you, that is not going to happen. Some days you are going to have an internet outage, sometimes your zoom call is going to freeze, some days no matter how hard the teacher tries, the class is going to be off topic, and there isn’t going to be much learning. All of this can and will happen, and that’s ok! We had a car hit the pole that our internet line was connected to last year, so for 2 days our classroom was the inside of a starbucks. While this was super inconvenient, we made the best of it with yummy drinks and picked the comfy couch to sit on. Things are not always going to be perfect, but everyone will make it through this, which brings me to my next point…
4.Attitude, Attitude, Attitude! Your kids attitude will reflect your attitude about the situation. If you have a bad attitude about having to distance learn, your kids are going to pick up on that, and they might start to feel the same way. If they see you excited to try something new, positive about starting, it will make them feel more at ease about the process. Now this is not to say that some kids, just aren’t going to like it. To say that would be unfair, because as we have seen during our distance learning we have learned it simply isn’t for everyone. But having a positive attitude is never a bad thing. Hang in there, everyone is working hard to make this as easy as possible for everyone!
5. Consider your childrens input! When kids feel like they have a say and some control about what is going on in their life, they tend to be a lot more agreeable. When we first started our journey I had my daughter at her desk in her room for all things school related. Classes and any offline work had to be done in her room, at her desk. Turns out, she HATED it because she felt boxed in and it honestly bored her to tears. You know where we do class now? On the couch, together. I am blessed to work from home so we each pick a corner of the couch and we do our work together. It works out so well for us because I can make sure she is paying attention in class, and she can have little chats with me so she doesn’t feel lonely. Now some kids really need that school type environment so I know not everyone can have school on the couch of course, but my point is letting your kids have *some* control on their own learning styles and what works best for them.
6.Set a routine! When you are at home, it’s so easy to jump in and out of school mode, which isn’t always the best thing when it comes to being productive. Now we are a pretty go with the flow type of family, but even we benefit from a good schedule. We get up to have enough time to eat a good breakfast, grab everything we will need for the day, and get started without having to rush. And we have a schedule for those times that my daughter isn’t in class as well. We want to use that time wisely so it’s not 7pm and we are still doing school work. I find setting up a schedule that was similar to an in person schedule works great for us. By 3pm we are done with everything and it’s time to relax, which is the entire goal.
So there you have it, there are my tips for distance learning that I hope everyone can use! Don’t forget to BREATH! This is new for some many people, and I just want you to know that you are doing a great job, your kids are doing a great job, and we will ALL get through this together, and come out stronger!
What tips for distance learning would you add to my list?
Before you go check out my other article on the top homeschooling programs to get us through this time! Then check out my tips for a socially distanced vacation in Tennessee! You won’t want to miss this!
Make sure you check out my free printable pages to see if there’s something you need for the kids to do!