Distance Learning? Homeschooling? Screen-learning time? How do you make the best of it?
1. When possible, take breaks.
Whether you are on a distance learning program that requires near back-to-back Zoom sessions or you get to design your day with screen time, make sure there are breaks.
But what KIND of breaks?
2. Set up a screen situation that works with your child.
What if your school or teacher won't allow your kid to put the Zoom on mute or turn off video so they can bounce around while they listen or participate without distracting everyone on the Zoom?
Um, tell them that's what you're doing. Then do it. Then follow up when some emails to the teacher over time about how the learning is working if needed.
Some kids need a lot of stimulus to focus.
This is a GREAT time to find out if your child focuses better with music blasting or by talking to themselves loudly. Don't try to make them "DO" school at home, see what kind of bird they really are so they can FLY. For example, right now I'm blasting this blog post out, fingers flying, a huge set of headphones on jamming the Asia album. It's loud. Sometimes I'm hearing the music, sometimes I'm not, and because of it I'm FOCUSED. Why? I don't really know. I suspect it's because when I have finished a thought about the writing I don't go into the quiet which would then spin my thoughts in different directions. I have two modes: blog post and album. I stay on track because one track keeps me on the other track. The point is, if you don't think like this, you may be telling your kid to work in silence assuming that would help them focus. Don't assume. Ask, watch, inquire, learn about your child's best productive modes.
Some kids need quiet to focus.
Some kids do need quiet and stillness to focus. So what if you have other kids and those other kids are loud or wiggly? How does your quiet-craving kid focus? Dig out a closet and throw a bean bag chair in there. Get THEM headphones. Have them do learning when the other kids are outside or asleep. Modify your schedule. I have heard it can take 23 to 25 minutes to get into focus mode but in the modern office people are interrupted every 11 minutes. Save that quick question for them until later. Let them sink into focus and stay there.
What about internet safety?
If you have a child who would do better doing online learning in private but you don't want them to have access to the entire internet while they are not supervised, get a tablet and lock that thing down. You can set up an iPad so that there are no purchases, you can't download or even delete apps without approval, and ONLY the websites you approve can be seen. (Heads up: this means you can't use YouTube because you can't approve individual YouTube channels, you can only allow the ENTIRE YouTube website.) If you don't know how to set this up for your child, reach out. Chances are there is someone in your community of online people who will be happy to help you with this.
Don't expect every day to be the same.
Look for the cycles. Kids have growth spurts, things on their mind, emotional changes, you name it. So KEEP A LOG. That way if you realize they had a rough three days with online learning but the next week and half was fine, you can start to look at the bigger picture instead of reacting to every day as if it's the only day your child will be graded on for the rest of their life.
Did I mention breathe?