How to Survive Remote Learning
This post was contributed by Atlanta-based mom of three boys under 7, Adrianne Klabik.
The second our district announced we’d be returning to school fully virtually in mid-July, I freaked out. Online learning in the spring was a disaster with a first grader. So much crying, so little learning. Now I have a second grader AND a kindergartner, and my husband and I both work full time from home. Oh, and we have an 11-month-old who crawls around the house wondering when we’re gonna give him some attention. So yes, I freaked out, but I also came up with a plan to try and maintain an ounce of sanity.
If You Can, Leave It to the Professionals
We partnered quickly with two other families with kids the same ages to form a learning pod and hire a teacher. That was an EXHAUSTING process. It took several weeks and countless hours. If this is something you’re considering, it’s critical EVERYONE is on the same page with Covid precautions. We found a teacher on care.com who we love and does a great job filling in the gaps of what the kids may be missing in the virtual environment.
Supplies, Supplies, Supplies
And more supplies. *IMPORTANT NOTE: BUYING A DESK SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE FIRST THING I DID!* They are sold out everywhere! I have a makeshift card table situation happening until my Ikea order comes later this month. Other items for our one-room schoolhouse: an analog clock, lots of small dry erase boards and markers, and bins for their supplies. Oh, and headphones with a built-in microphone! In the spring I didn’t realize my son’s headphones didn’t have a microphone until I saw he was unplugging them every time he had to answer the teacher!
Make It Really Feel Like School
Routine and organization are critical. With two different grade levels in our pod, the school schedule is insane. One group at recess while the other is doing reading, etc. Our teacher has LOTS of reminders set on her phone and we have big posters with their schedules hanging above their desks. Our kids still pick out their clothes and pack their lunches the night before. The breakfast/backpack morning routine is the same. My husband even drives them around the block and drops them off so they can walk in the side door to the basement to set up their computers for the day. Sounds crazy, but it really does help replicate walking into “school.”
When school started, the first week was very rough with technical issues. As time went on, I realized I was trying too hard to solve all of the technical problems when my oldest son actually knew how to fix many of them himself. After bookmarking all of the websites and saving all of the passwords, I took a hands off approach to handling the technical issues. I wanted my kids to figure them out and learn they should turn to our in-home teacher for help, not me. The second grade teachers have a very high expectation on independence, so that’s been a major focus. For the second graders, they’re expected to come in, log on and have all their materials set out for the day. The kids are expected to know their assignments and how to complete them. My job is to check things at the end of the day and contact the teacher with any questions, just as I would if they were going to school in-person.
I’d Rather Watch “Baby Shark”
Keep distractions to a minimum! They get sidetracked so easily. No toys or TV on in the room where they are learning. We blocked YouTube and PBS kids off their computers. My kindergartner is especially sneaky when it comes to ditching Zoom class for YouTube…
Share Your Homeschool Hacks
It’s been challenging, but so far, so good. My kids are genuinely excited about school! But if anyone has advice/tips on how to improve this setup, I’m all ears. Send me an email with your ideas!