How can you make virtual learning work for you and your family?
There isn’t one answer — what works for one may not work for all — but the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools and Parents for Charter Schools produced a list to help.
Their seven starter tips —plus two of mine — are:
—Set a regular daily schedule to complete assigned work and study. In our house, we set the mornings between 9 and noon for sit-down schoolwork time.
— Dedicate a designated workspace. In our house, my two daughters and I (who are all new to working and schooling at home)‚ each got one shelf of a bookshelf in the dining room. Laptops go back in there to be charged at the end of the day.
— Set a check-in time. This would be family members will come together to share what they're doing. At the end of the week, let students share something they learned. In our house we haven’t yet done this, but we do a daily de-brief. My husband and I are trying to check in with the girls before dinner time and encourage them both to check their Google Classroom platforms before bedtime so that they know what they have coming up the next day.
— Create a schedule. Divide it into 15 to 20 minute or 30 to 45 minute sessions, depending on your child's age. Set specific goals to accomplish for each assigned task during each session.
— Take a mental and physical break between sessions. In our house, “Mom School” lunch and PE times have been very important for ALL of us.
— Turn off distractions, including television and smartphones, during learning times. Still working on that at my house. The television part is easier — for all of us — than the smartphone part.
— Keep track of your work. Keep a notebook, journal or electronic copy of your child's work, if possible. Not only will it be valuable to you, but it can also help your child's teacher see how your child is progressing.
I’ll add two:
— Watch snacking. Oh the temptation to snack could easily lead to gaining the COVID-19 15 we’ve found. Some folks I’ve seen are packing lunches for kids as they normally would including snacks. We are “grazers” in my house — we all eat a little throughout the day and it can easily add up. So we’ve tried putting out healthy things to graze upon. We’ve had success taking a pie pan and filling it twice a day with fresh fruits and cut veggies sometimes. Everyone, adults included, eats from it. It’s not foolproof, but it helps, I think.
— Give yourself a break. I've seen lots of shares on social media of posts with a recurring theme: Doing it all is a lie, so don't beat yourself up when you can't do it all. So remember, no one is watching you. No one is keeping score. Do your best for your kids — and your self. Remember your patience — and save some of that patience for yourself.
The Florida Department of Education has compiled a list of resources to help with the move from classroom to distance learning.