Remember just a few short months ago when we were all suddenly stuck at home and thrown into an online learning experience that made us uncomfortable, unsure, and unhappy? Perhaps now you are choosing the virtual option for your child — or maybe it’s being chosen for you. This time can (and will) be different, and you can be the one to help your child make the best out of this situation.
Determine your attitude.
Make the best of the situation. Your child will feed off of how you are feeling and reacting. Decide ahead of time that you will be positive and upbeat about this virtual option.
Keep your schedule.
Start the day by sticking to your family’s morning routine. Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast and maybe take a walk around the block (as if walking or riding to school), then start school on time. Many schools will require students to be in the virtual classroom ready to learn at the same time as if they were in the classroom at school, so it will be best to keep the daily schedule as if it were a “normal” school day. If your school doesn’t provide your child with a set schedule, create one!
Create a school space.
Each child needs their own “classroom” in the home. Find a desk, table or countertop that is designated as their area, a place where that child knows learning is going to take place. This should be in a well lit area, preferably with some natural light, but not too much distraction. Make sure the “classroom” has all the supplies needed for a regular school day - pencils, pens, highlighters, colored pencils, markers, notebook paper, binders, notebooks, textbooks, workbooks, and any other school supplies required by the teacher(s). In addition to classroom supplies, it will be important to make sure the student’s technology tool is properly working and fully charged! Check the audio and camera features, and always have a charger nearby.
Take breaks (recess, lunch, end of day).
Make time to go outside for a 15 minute recess a few times during the day, stop and have lunch when the students would have lunch at school, and try to keep a school routine when possible. Add an end of day routine to “leave” school for the day. This could be cleaning up the classroom area, putting books and supplies away, and looking at and planning for tomorrow’s schedule. Focusing on these breaks/routines will help in the event your child goes back and forth between in-person/classroom learning and virtual learning.
Maintain high expectations.
Don’t lower your expectations and don’t expect the teachers to lower theirs. When students and teachers were first sent home in March, there was no time to make a plan, perfect or otherwise. Now schools, teachers, parents and students have had time to accept reality and make a plan!
Your children should actively participate in virtual classroom meetings, complete their work with great effort and neatness and complete and/or submit their work on time. Their work should be the best they are capable of — in or out of the classroom.
Develop a connection/relationship with your child’s teacher and keep them informed of things happening in your home. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out to your child’s teacher. But at the end of the day, let it go! Remember to enjoy your family time at night, and let your teacher do the same.
Practice patience and flexibility.
Patience and flexibility are more important now than ever! Model patience and flexibility for your child and show them that offering (and receiving) grace from others is important. Great growth can occur when we experience difficult situations.
Adele Jackson is a middle school math teacher at The Anthony School in Little Rock, Arkansas. She has taught in the classroom for 20 years, the majority of those years teaching 4th-8th grade math. Adele has a passion for teaching and watching the “ah-ha” moments when students understand math and how it works in everything they do! In her free time, Adele can be found cheering on her daughter at swim meets, watching her son play soccer and basketball, and spending time at Lake Ouachita with family and friends.