Like many parents around the U.S., this week we embarked on the brave new task of virtual learning with our kids. For many parents who homeschool their children, this may be just another day, but combined with social distancing recommendations, “parenting and living virtually” as I like to call it can present some unexpected challenges. It’s also an opportunity to show our children what’s possible through educational technology and how to reconnect as a family.
Here are some things I’ve tried (and learned) this week as we all navigated a new routine for schooling and working from home together:
Give Your Child a Dedicated Space
It’s important to set the tone for learning. If possible, have them set up for school on a desk, or portion of a desk if space allows. Not all children have their own desk (especially younger ones), but you can carve space on a dining room or counter. Your children are likely used to the structure their school day provides, so this will help reinforce that structure at home.
Set Up Their Equipment
Most virtual schoolwork can be done on desktops, laptops or tablets depending on what sites or apps your school is using. We’ve used Zoom, Edmodo and Edgenuity, which are all web-based and app-enabled programs. These are hectic times, but don’t wait until the last minute to download apps, save links or set up passwords for your kids. Once they’re set up, encourage them to sign in and out independently so they get used to how these programs work. Make sure they have a functioning headset (preferably a fun one), paper, pencil, colored pencils, or any other supplies their teacher may request. All these steps will set the stage for learning.
When they’re not working, take breaks. Have them walk the dog, ride their bike, color, tumble on a mat or watch a fun video. They can even help with lunch and snacks if they’re old enough. This will give them – and you – a break and set some new routines.
Most importantly, be patient and forgiving with yourself, your children and their teachers. If something doesn’t work the first day, tweak and try it again in the coming days. We’re all navigating this new process together and learning as we go – your kids too. Your child may find they love to learn online, and will look for new and fun ways to play and create using virtual tools.
Here are some online resources for learning and creativity that your kids can use year-round
- Duolingo – Kid-focused app that teaches foreign languages.
- Fun Brain – Educational interactive content including books, games and videos.
- GoNoodle – Movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts.
- NatGeoKids – National Geographic’s Kids website has fun information on animals, science, history and geography.
- Prodigy Math – Game-based math learning curriculum. Plus, it’s free.
- Outschool – Kids can take live online classes on everything from drawing to gaming.