School started here in Boise a few weeks ago, and due to high community Covid spread, classes are currently being held online. Kids may be able to return to the classroom eventually (with rotating days and masks required), but for the foreseeable future we are 100% online. Due to Evan’s brain injury and long road to recovery we will be holding him back a year and doing an extra year of preschool. He may go back to in person preschool later this year should it become safer, but my plan for the time being is to work on a bit of homeschool in addition to his busy rehab schedule. Times are certainly tough these days, with so many hard decisions for parents! If you are like me and will be homeschooling or overseeing distance learning this fall…then this post is for you. I wanted to share a few tips that have helped us find a routine and some supplies to make the best at home learning environment possible.
Create a designated space for learning
I think this is one of the most important keys for successful at home learning. It’s hard enough at it is for kids to try to focus on a computer screen, so having them trying to learn in a high traffic, loud part of the house will be even more difficult for them. We’ve set Cole up with a desk in our office and can keep the door closed while he’s in class. The room is also very well lit with big windows which I think is also important! Wherever you can find a quiet, well lit place in your home – this is a great place to make your child’s learning spot. Their bedroom, a spare room, office, or even a nook in a quiet area of the home can all work great. For Evan’s homeschool preschool, we’ve set up a folding table in the dining room that is perfect for withstanding paint and messy crafts.
Schedule your day like a typical school day
Although we are at home, it is important to me that Cole treats the day like he would any other school day. We get up at our usual time and have breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, comb his hair, and make sure he’s logged in on time. I don’t want him rolling out of bed last minute and showing up in pajamas because I feel that getting into that typical routine will help him be more productive with learning. Evan’s preschool day is significantly shorter, but we still get dressed and ready for school, and start and end our school time at the same time every day.
Make sure you have all of the school supplies on your school’s list
Cole’s school year has begun with all the assignments the kids would have done even if they had been in person. Some of the assignments are paper assignments we have to pick up at the school and complete at home – and these have required colored pencils, notebooks, and pencils. Even if you’re online, be prepared with all of the supplies your school had on your school supply list.
Be prepared to help with technology struggles
Cole is frequently coming out of the office and asking me to help him figure out something the teacher has asked him to do on the computer. And I often hear kids telling the teacher they can’t figure out what to do and she asks them to get a parent to help. Yes – we parents often don’t know how to do it either and it’s frustrating at times…but being prepared and available to help out will make your child’s school day a bit easier.
Although a designated desk for your child isn’t required (any table space can work!), it has certainly made things a lot easier for Cole. His desk was super inexpensive (under $50!) and is really small (it could fit almost anywhere!), but it has a few drawers and shelves that help him keep his schoolwork and supplies organized. I hung a few clipboards on the wall above his desk so he can hang up papers he needs to keep track of and be able to quickly access like completed homework and password lists. A whiteboard has also been helpful for writing reminders or for jotting down quick notes. And a small desk clock is a must for helping him keep track of recess breaks.
Make the best of it
This hasn’t been easy. It’s far from ideal. But it’s an opportunity to teach your kids to weather the storms of life and make the best of tough times. Cole has had an incredibly tough year with his little brother being so sick and now missing his school, friends, and extra curricular activities. But I just keep reminding him that this too shall pass and things won’t be this way forever. And we are all in this together. Cole wants to go into computer software or engineering as an adult, so I also remind him that this year of online learning will be helpful for him one day and give him a bit of an early start to working with computers. Attitude really is everything and if you can look for something positive to focus on, it will make a big difference in tackling this whole new experience! We’ve also tried to keep the fun traditions intact like the first day of school pictures…and we’ve also added some fun things like having some of the kids’ favorite foods for lunch outside and playing laser tag during recess.