Five years ago when I had my daughter, if you told me that on her very first day of elementary school we would be sitting in our home, staring at a computer screen for virtual learning, I would have laughed. And yet, here we are. COVID has definitely changed how we do just about everything. For my family and I, has turned a huge milestone into disappointment, confusion, and to be honest, a struggle.
In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, my husband and I had to consider more than just if we had enough notebooks, crayons and pencils. We had to consider where she would work. Who would be watching and helping her throughout her virtual learning. Who and how someone would watch my younger son.
He is a toddler and at the age where he follows around his sister. He wants to do whats she is doing. How could we eliminate the distractions as much as possible so that she can learn? Would we be able to recreate a classroom setting so that she would ACTUALLY learn? It felt as if we had way more questions than answers. These answers were mostly a shrug of the shoulders and “I don’t know”.
Nevertheless, we started on our journey to make the start of her elementary school year a successful one. Besides making sure that our home was fully stocked with all the pencils, crayons and paper needed, we made sure her computer set up and ready for use. We download her online educational programs for the first day of school.
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VIRTUAL LEARNING WORKSPACE
Next on the list to prepare was making sure she had a dedicated workspace. We had every intention of setting up her own desk that she would sit at and spend all day learning. But who were we kidding?! She’s 5! Instead, I was able to create space on my own home office desk for her to sit at during the school day so that I could be close by to assist her during classes.
Gathering and organizing all her school supplies was the easy part. We utilize a mobile cart to keep it close to her. Mid- August came and my daughter officially became a kindergartner! However, in just these two weeks of online learning there are 3 important lessons my husband and I have learned.
SHOP HOME LEARNING SOLUTIONS
STICK TO A SCHEDULE
Even though we are at home, it’s so important to still create some type of school schedule. Just because we are home, doesn’t mean we can’t still get ready for school, waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, the same way we would if we were leaving the house. Sticking to a schedule, helps differentiate for my daughter that, yes, virtual school days are different than other days of the week.
The consistency of a schedule also helps my son. Although he is still young, seeing us do the same thing everyday slowly but surely helps him to be less of a distraction for his sister. We constantly let him know when her online learning starts. In between her learning sessions create time for them to play together.
ALLOW FOR FLEXIBILITY
A schedule allows for my husband and I know when and what tasks we can get done. As full-time working parents, our mornings are filled with meetings and we found ourselves alternating supervision with our daughter. At times we end up working on her school activities mostly in afternoons but ensuring it gets completed.
MAKE SURE TO TAKE BREAKS
In a time when so many of our activities are inside, it’s so important that on occasions when we can safely do so, we get some fresh air. This is even more important for our children. The same way we are being emotionally challenged during this time, so are they.
Creating our own “recess” time for our daughter allows time to get recharged and can help break up the monotony of the day. Our recess time includes taking a walk or riding our bikes outdoors for 30 minutes. This allows our son to also have some fun time with his sister during the day and also not get bored. It also allows them to stay physically active and away from the screens.
LEARN HOW YOUR CHILD LEARNS AND IF YOU NEED YOU NEED HELP, ASK
We are all currently taking on more hats than we ever have. Mom, cook, nurse, business owner, and now assistant teacher. That can take a toll and become overwhelming. Virtual learning is made easier when you can discern how your kindergartener best receives information.
What activities are best for your kindergartner to fully comprehend the lessons? Crafts, handwriting, painting, drawings or videos. For young learners, repetition of activities encourages learning.
Knowing the answer can make virtual learning a smooth process and ensure your kindergartner is soaking in as much knowledge as possible.
But, if you are having some difficulty getting into the swing of things don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help from family, other parents and of course your child’s kindergarten teacher. We know what’s best for our young children and connecting with other parents during this time of a learning curve for all of us lessens the struggle.
The most important thing to remember is that we all want to create the best and most productive distance learning experience for our young children. That sometimes requires a joint effort.
This school year has definitely had us out of our comfort zone but with a few adjustments in our routine we will make it through. The one thing I know for sure is this school year will definitely be one of the most memorable.