I first made the decision to homeschool well over a decade ago, when I was a mom of 2. As the years passed, my household expanded from four to nine. I learned volumes of tips, tricks, and wisdom during the past ten years, and now that we are virtual schooling again, all of those years have helped us tremendously in the process. Here are five tips I learned that are helping us navigate virtual learning this year.
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Tip #1 – Stick to a routine during Virtual Learning
The more decisions you have to make in a day, the more mental energy your day requires, and let’s face it – most of us are already exhausted. Establish a daily rhythm you can follow without having to determine what should come next, and save yourself the mental energy for what really matters. Creating an hour-by-hour schedule can be tough to adhere to, even for the most disciplined parents. There are so many variables that can change throughout the school day that it’s important to create space in your routine. Use time blocks to create a very simple routine – breakfast, school time, lunch and recess, school time, and dinner time. After dinner time, plan a rhythm for the remainder of your evening – What should it look like? For example, it can be chores, bath time, playtime, then bed. Whatever rhythm works best for your family, stick to it from day to day so the mental guesswork is taken off your plate. With a steady daily rhythm in place, you can focus more time and energy on education and your family life versus constantly answering the question, “What’s next?”
Tip #2 – Designate a learning space
Even in smaller spaces, learning spaces should be designated to help create a mindset shift from free time to virtual learning time. Whether it’s an entirely different room, an office space, or even just a small desk area, decide where virtual learning happens each day. Plan accordingly, and have all the supplies necessary for the day in this space to cut down on the back-and-forth that tends to take up more time and create more frustration. However, also remember that your home doesn’t have to mimic the school classroom – you can let it be as informal as you would like it to be. No one likes to be restricted to a chair from morning to afternoon, so give them space to stretch and move while virtual learning is happening.
Tip #3 – Don’t Forget the Encouragement During Virtual Learning
Everyone grows in a safe, supportive environment where words of encouragement are given freely and often. Don’t forget this doesn’t only apply to your child, but to yourself as well. Mistakes will be made every single day, but it’s important to encourage and reassure your child as well as yourself, that you are doing the best you can.
Tip #4 – Self-Care Doesn’t Have to Last an Hour
Self-care is perhaps the most important tip because none of us can invest in our children when we ourselves are bankrupt of time, energy, and positivity. Shift the narrative that self-care has to be an hour-long event without children around. Self-care can be as little as a moment, making yourself a cup of tea or coffee, or putting work and schoolwork aside for ten minutes to breathe. Every moment counts, and only you can decide what self-care looks like for you. Choose yourself in the tiny moments, and invest in your wellbeing as much as you invest in your family and friends.
Tip #5 – It’s Always Ok to Reach Out for Help
Virtual learning is a tough road, and it can be very lonely and isolating at times, even more so during the middle of a global pandemic. It can also be extremely daunting if it’s your first experience with virtual learning. We are all meant to be a part of a greater community, and while we are still able to connect virtually, sometimes we need more support than what Zoom can offer. Sylvan Learning Centers now offers in-person school support during school hours to help you navigate your child’s learning journey. With high-quality personalized learning, Sylvan is a great resource to build a network of support.
While virtual learning presents many unique challenges, it is important to always remember to exercise kindness and patience with ourselves, our children, and others throughout this time. Establish your daily rhythm, designate your learning space, encourage each other, practice intentional self-care throughout your day, and reach out for help when you need it. We will get through this, one day at a time.
Photo Credit :: Lindsay Herkert Photography