Although many schools have opened for in-person learning this fall, there is a lingering uncertainty of whether or not the school year will be finished remotely. It can bring back old feelings of uncertainty and fear of yet another change. The great news is, it does not have to be as scary this time because we know more now than we did last year! Our Restart Learning Center during the pandemic taught us a lot and helped equip us. Here are some of tips for remote learning. We hope they can empower you to meet the needs of your child.
1. Make a Routine
Just as a routine is important for an in-person school year, this part of the day is equally as important for a remote school year as well. Children and teens who have established routines tend to adjust to change more easily. They demonstrate emerging independence— two crucial skills essential for making remote learning a success. When a child has an attainable routine they feel in control of their day. They know what’s coming next, and feel safe, secure, and confident in the process.
We experienced this with the children we served during our Restart Learning Center. Once we established a fun and consistent process, it made it easy to provide tutoring and coaching while they learned online. A fun example you can do is using a dry erase board or magnetic chart. Or, you can take it one step further by creating a visual using an interactive app on your phone/table.. As each task is completed, they will be able to resolve that step and move on to the next feeling accomplished!
2. Create A Space for remote learning
One overlooked piece to remote learning is helping children separate work from play. This way when the school day is over, your child can shut down and close it out of their brain for the day. Once we were able to establish fun activities after homework during our Restart Learning Center, it helped make a separation between the two. Creating a designated space for school-related activities and play time will help set this mindset. Wherever you set up, make sure to keep your supplies organized. Fitting a classroom of school supplies in your personal space can quickly get disorganized. Having a place for everything will help keep your child’s school area tidy and easy to pick up.
3. Protect Their Eye Health
It is no secret that distance learning has affected eye health. Most commonly, dry eyes. The average blinking rate for a person is 25-35 blinks per minute. During a screen heavy pandemic, studies have shown that the average blink rate decreases five to seven times per minute while using electronics. Naturally, this can oftentimes lead to issues like eye strain, headaches, and other health concerns. Most children do not realize they have a hard time seeing clearly or have vision problems. That said, it’s imperative to keep up with regular vision check ups.
While staying aware of your child’s eye health at any age is important, it is crucial to stay proactive with teens and older adolescents. This age group typically has a larger screen heavy day than others. Why? because they like to unwind by scrolling through apps and video chatting/texting with others. Investing in a good pair of blue-light-filtering glasses can make all the difference. Regardless if your teen has poor vision or not, blue light blocking glasses can be added to any prescription or purchased separately. This makes it a must have product to protect eye health.
4. Take A Break and get moving
Burnout and zoom fatigue—two pieces to remote learning parents learned quickly about last year! But it does not have to be something our children learn to live with. There are a few useful ways to combat them. Taking adequate breaks and getting their bodies moving can help prevent burnout. It can also keep your child focused when that time is needed. There are plenty of fun and useful ways to exercise brain breaks such as setting a timer throughout the day to practice a few fun trivia questions or work on breathing techniques! Or, you can have your child engage in a physical activity of some sort.
Incorporating heightened cardiovascular activity throughout the day, for example, increases oxygen levels, allowing for better concentration and focus. One thing we learned, for sure, is that childrens’ concentration and focus improved once they got moving. Get creative! Don’t be afraid to get silly and break out those dance moves for a dance party break! Or have a mini contest of who can do the most jumping jacks in five minutes! Get creative and have fun with it!
5. Connect Them With Their Peers
If there is anything that this pandemic has brought to light, it is that community is important. We as humans are meant to interact with each other. Although social distancing has forced us to do it in ways we are not quite used to, there are plenty of creative ways that can help your child have a sense of community even while learning at home. It can be as easy as setting up a small group of classmates to play games over zoom or hosting virtual playdates with friends from their sports team.
We were blessed to have so many willing and able to connect with our children during the pandemic and we learned that once we started building community, children naturally felt happier and more confident. Therefore, we encourage you to build community using virtual resources like Netflix which has made it easy to host a virtual party with anyone, no matter where you are located. Anyone with a monthly subscription can add the chrome extension for free. This will allow a group chat between the kids and synchronize the video to everyone in the party!
We hope that throughout the course of the year, if your child has to switch back to remote or hybrid learning you are able to take on this obstacle confidently, knowing you are more prepared and not alone. Throughout the duration of the remaining and seemingly uncertain school year, if your child ends up having to shift back to fully remote, or hybrid learning, you will be better prepared for a smoother transition.
Being ready to adapt to this potential disruption at the drop of a dime will enable you to not only encourage and support your child’s learning process but can also bring about peace of mind for yourself knowing that whatever the remainder of the school year brings, you are prepared. If there is one thing this past year has shown us, it is that no one can predict the future, but you need to be able to adapt quickly! But it has also shown us that we are not alone. Should there be a decision made that requires at-home remote learning, take a deep breath, and move in confidence knowing that you are well prepared for this, and you are ready to tackle whatever life throws at you with ease!