If you’ve had just about enough with virtual learning, you’re not alone. Having your kids in the home all the time can be overwhelming as you work from home or come back from a day at your job wondering what your kid did at home all day. The truth is, online learning is hard for students, parents, and teachers alike - and with months left to go in the school year, you may be wondering how you will get to the end of the school year.
Virtual learning has its advantages to be sure - you can feel safe and secure knowing your family isn’t exposed to COVID-19 in a crowded classroom, skip frantic morning rush, and actually be nice to spend extra time with our kids. If your kids love technology and using different applications, they may actually excel in an environment where their skills can be recognized. Kids that have social anxiety can relax in the comfort of their own environment, not worrying about who to sit with at lunch or standing in front of the class for a presentation.
Though we’d all love to admit that a work-and-learn-from-home lifestyle is perfect, the truth is far from it. Even when things are going smoothly, we know our kids are missing the important elements of school life: independence, social time, play time, and the environment to develop learning skills. It can be exhausting to help your child stay focused in virtual school while we have our own jobs to pay attention to. And for this reason, we have compiled a list of tips to help you get through this challenging time.
This article provides tips for getting through what will hopefully be the last few months of virtual learning. Whether your kids have just switched to online, or you have been in it since September, you will learn some new strategies for addressing the challenges that come with virtual learning.
Want to learn all about virtual learning? Check out our blog.
1. Know when your child has had too much time on the computer.
While we are living in exceptional times, and must be a bit more flexible with the amount of screen time our kids are getting, there is a point where it may become too much. Provinces like Ontario mandated 225 minutes of “asynchronous” time a day, meaning that teachers would have to be live for nearly 4 hours a day, but the amount of time your kids should be staring at the screen will depend on their age, temperament, and what you feel comfortable with as a parent.
Spending time in an online class is definitely different from playing video games all day long, but the consequences of being sedentary in front of a screen and the stress that comes with having your computer disconnect from the internet are very real issues. You’ll know that your child is spending too much time online when they become irritable, lethargic, not sleeping or can’t seem to get away from checking their phone or computer for a notification.
Combat the excessive screen time by setting real limits on how much time they can spend online. Sometimes simply an hour away from your phone and some fresh air can make a big difference - if your kids are resistant to new rules, then start small and plan no-tech activities to keep them off the screen. Don’t hesitate to permit your child to take a day or afternoon off school - mental health days are important, and your child may even be more productive when they have given their screens a break.
2. Give everyone room to breathe
When everyone has their own place to work in your home, and those spaces are clearly marked, you’re kids will be less stressed. Having to worry about a family member listening in the background or unwanted noise is anxiety inducing, and you’ll have less conflict in your home if everyone has a place to work. If you are lucky enough for everyone to have a different bedroom, set up workstations where your kids can be on screen with a neutral background, or encourage them to change their background virtually while in class.
If you have space limitations, designate an area of the home for each student and equip them with a headset so they don’t have noise echoing from another computer. When everyone knows their boundaries, everyone will be more comfortable getting on with their school day.
3. Prepare healthy snacks and meals in advance
Before the pandemic, gaining winter pounds was a reason to set goals for fitness and nutrition. With everyone at home, all the time, you’re probably even more concerned that your family is getting eating more and moving less. There’s a lot of sitting going on in virtual learning, and the temptation to eat convenient, unhealthy snacks like cookies or chips can be tempting.
Get through the pandemic the healthy way by getting your family into a routine of healthy eating. With so much time at home, find a website filled with healthy bakes and snack ideas and prepare them over the weekend. Focus on more nutritious, satisfying snacks like hummus and veggies, overnight oats, or high fibre bakes like oatmeal cookies and cakes made with whole grain flours. Have protein rich items like cheese sticks or cut up squares once a week, hard boiled eggs, and turkey cold cuts.
You’ll feel much better when your whole family is eating healthy all week, and you’ll savour that takeout or occasional treat every week.
Do you have a child in your home struggling with learning online? Learn our strategies for helping your kids in virtual school.
4. Communicate with your Child’s Teacher
Having an open line of communication with your child’s teachers can be instrumental in any learning environment. When teachers have a strong relationship with parents, the classroom community thrives from that extra level of support. Your child’s teacher will be able to inform you what is happening in your kid’s class on a regular basis: what supplies they need, whether or not your kid is struggling, or if they are missing some additional assignments. When the connection between home and school is strong, your child is sure to thrive and you will be better informed about your kids’ learning.
5. Find Time for Yourself
Parenting during a time of virtual learning is exhausting, challenging, frustrating, and rewarding all at the same time. You are doing much of the work the teacher would do if your child were in the school building: checking homework, monitoring their learning skills, helping them navigate technology, and helping out when they don’t understand a topic.
Parents working a full-time job from home may find everything all too overwhelming, especially those with younger children. Paying attention in meetings, spotty internet when too many people in the home are online, and a slew of other technical issues may be stressing you out. Having all the work of parenting and maintaining a career can be extremely overwhelming - so don’t hesitate to make time for yourself.
Take long walks, don’t feel bad about making quick dinners or ordering out, and remember that it’s OK for your home to be a bit cluttered. Block out everything with a cup of tea and a good book or magazine when you can, and take the breaks you need.
Make virtual learning better for your family by creating a healthy virtual learning environment for your child.
6. Hire a Tutor
On the topic of making time for yourself, why not outsource some of the heavy lifting of virtual learning by hiring a tutor to help out? A tutor will work with your child on their greatest areas of need, be it math, language, or simply getting long assignments done. They can meet your child online at a time that is convenient for your family, and inform you of your child’s progress.
In many cases, a child may even be able to work more productively with a tutor than a parent. A tutor can model great learning skills for your child, track their assignments, and talk to them about what they are struggling with. The best part, of course, is that it takes some stress off your day and you can use that time to focus on yourself or your work.
Sites like Superprof have listings for amazing tutors near you. Check out Superprof today and find the right tutor for the students in your home.
Are you feeling stressed from having your kids in virtual learning? Find out our best tips for coping with virtual learning stress.