My phone rang at 6:30, and I saw the school’s number on the screen. Uh-oh. I knew what the message was. My heart sank. Sure enough, school was canceled tomorrow so it would be an e-learning day.
E-Learning days are so hard. My kids don’t want to focus, and it’s a meltdown almost every time I tell them what they have to do. EVEN when I tell them their teacher is the one assigning the work, we are in meltdown city so even a simple assignment can take hours.
As a teacher, I’ve worked with enough parents during e-Learning throughout the years that I’ve noticed several things the most successful families do. Some families struggle and dread e-Learning days, but other families embrace e-Learning and with these simple tricks and tips you can actually enjoy time with your kiddo at home.
6 Simple Ways To Have A Successful e-Learning Experience
Prepare Your Space
If it is at all possible, find a special place in your house that can be dedicated to school. Stock it with materials that you may need and allow your child to help pick decorations. Try to keep decorations to a minimum so they don’t become a distraction, and only use 2-3 main colors to decorate. Use materials that are good references for things your child will be learning this year. teacherspayteachers.com has a lot of great resources for this.
The space you choose should have as few distractions as possible. If your child has a laptop on the couch next to little brother who is playing with toys, not much work is going to be completed. Try to find a place away from toys, people, TV, etc. to make your “home classroom.”
Stick To A Schedule
Children crave structure. Kids want to know what to expect and what is coming up next. Keeping a consistent schedule and knowing what to expect will help kids be more relaxed and confident during their school time. In my classroom, we did the exact same thing, in the exact same order, in the exact same way every day. Kids thrive with consistency.
Even as an adult, I want to know what to expect. If my schedule and routine change every day, I feel out of control, forgetful, and things don’t get done well. This is even more true for young children.
Not only should you do school at (relatively) the same time every day, but you should attempt to stick to as close to the school routine as possible. Kids who get the most out of e-Learning have a routine similar to their school day.
Get up, eat breakfast, brush teeth, get ready. Start reading, do a brain break (gonoodle.com is wonderful for this. If you don’t want to create an account, you can search Koo-Koo Kangaroo on youtube for movement breaks good for younger kids, or for older kids search brain breaks on youtube and pick a dance that looks fun.) Next, do writing, brain break, snack, math, and finally specials. (This is just an example, create a schedule that works for you. Be sure to include plenty of movement breaks and of course a snack.) If your child knows what to expect each day, things will go more smoothly.
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Don’t Be Afraid To Reach Out For Help
When I did e-learning with my kindergarten class, there were some parents I talked to almost every time we had e-Learning, and others I rarely talked to. Teachers are here to support you even if you are learning virtually.
Every teacher wants their students to be successful. (Even for one or two days of e-Learning). If there is something you don’t understand, or if you’re not quite sure what is age-appropriate, don’t be afraid to contact your child’s teacher.
I have parents contacting me asking about assignment requirements or even about number reversals or what they should do to correct them. I’m always happy to answer questions and to try to help. These things I would be doing if their child was in my classroom at school. I’m always happy to give parents ideas on how to best support their kids at home.
Make e-Learning Fun
To make online learning fun, make sure your child has breaks throughout the day. It is hard for me to focus for long periods of time, and I’m not staring at a screen trying to learn through video.
Find dancing videos your child can follow along with, or make up your own game. Have your child go outside for some screen-free time to give their eyes a rest. Give them a chance to run, jump, and play.
One bonus you have with e-learning is you get a front-row seat to what your child is learning. Normally, you might be able to tell what concepts your child is learning because you would see what papers come home. Now you get to see the lessons and how things are being taught.
If your child is struggling with a concept, do the e-learning work that your child’s teacher assigned, and then incorporate what your child is struggling with while playing any board game. For example, if your child is struggling with rhyming, do the assignments your child’s teacher assigns, and then play Candy Land. Before your child is able to take their turn, they need to give you a word that rhymes with the word that you say.
If your child is learning how to write their numbers, do you want your child’s teacher assigned, and then take sidewalk chalk outside and have them write numbers on the sidewalk.
Have A Positive Attitude
How you present the situation to your child is how they will view it. If you are anxious and complain to everyone you talk to about how terrible e-Learning is, your child will pick up on your anxiety and have a difficult time. This does not mean you are not allowed to vocalize your feelings and worries to your friends, just do it when your child isn’t within earshot.
Tell your child something like: “Hey! I am so glad we get to spend some extra time together. I usually miss you when you go back to school, I am really excited to get to do school with you for a while and I can’t wait to watch you learn and grow. It’s going to be so much fun to see what fun things your teacher sets up for us to do together. Let’s find a special spot in our house to make our e-Learning spot. Would you like to draw some pictures to hang on the wall to decorate it? Or maybe print out some pictures of your favorite characters or sports players? What are some school supplies we should stock our e-Learning corner with?”
Remember, how you view e-learning is how your child will view it. Help your child by making it a fun, exciting new way of school (….even if you are a bit skeptical.)
Give Yourself Grace
Grace, grace, and more grace. I think moms, in general, are terrible at this. You are likely not a trained teacher (although all mothers are teachers to some degree), and you may try to be working from home, or have other kids to be caring for and you are all of a sudden thrown into the role (like-it-or-not) of homeschool teacher. Your child’s teacher understands. All they are asking is that you do your best. Commit to doing your best at what you can, and reach out for help when you need it.
Give grace to your child. Learning at home, with your mom by your side is different than what they’re used to. There are a million more distractions at home than at school, and they’re more comfortable with their mom than their teacher. That comfort level will alone make learning more difficult.
We are also asking them to learn by watching videos. You’ll need to set some firm boundaries (this is school time, and we are going to follow your teacher’s instructions) but when your child seems to be struggling, remember to give them a little grace. This is challenging for them too.
Finally, give grace to your child’s teacher. E-Learning is difficult for teachers too. They’re trying to create engaging lesson plans for families who all have different supplies at home, and for kids who all have different levels of support at home. They need grace too, and while you’re at it, add in some coffee, chocolate, and maybe even a gift card to Target. Teachers who feel appreciated are teachers who can keep going. Teachers didn’t get into teaching for the money. Or the hours. Or the high social status. Teachers got into teaching to serve. To make a difference. Let them know that they are doing just that.
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How do you make e-Learning a successful experience?