Maybe you looked forward to the beginning of the school year but then decided homeschool was best. Perhaps local district rules gave you no choice.
If you’re a mom dealing with distance learning this year, you need all the help you can get. Here are nine tips to make this school year as successful and stress-free as possible.
1. Stock Up
Just because your child isn’t returning to the traditional classroom doesn’t mean they won’t need notebooks, pens and pencils. Keep an ongoing inventory of the basics and replace what you need as you go.
You might need to modify your list somewhat. For example, your kiddos won’t need a lunchbox. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t want nutritious grab-and-go freezer goodies at mealtime — keep your prep work on point.
2. Establish a Routine
Remember how lost you felt when you first began telecommuting? What time should you start your workday, and what time was that meeting again? Your children wander likewise adrift without structure to their days.
Establish a routine with a set start time for lessons, and ask your child questions like, “What subjects are you excited to learn more about today,” to get them going. At each day’s end, help them to write their assignments in their planners and adjust the time estimates for each project.
3. Manage Expectations
If you think, “Now that I’m around to supervise, my child will get straight A’s no matter what,” you might put undue pressure on your little one. This stress can backfire — they may start to hate their lessons and resist attending class.
Instead, keep your expectations manageable. This principle goes for you, too. For example, you may need to ask for more flexible work hours, even if you also telecommute so that you can juggle homeschool with your career. Technical difficulties and internet interruptions can create headaches or opportunities to do other worthy activities — you ultimately decide.
4. Attend Teacher Conferences
Teachers often rue conference night during typical school years because those parents they need to see most rarely appear. Please make every effort to attend — this evening is your opportunity to get your questions answered and provide insight into your child’s individual learning needs.
What if you work during the allotted time? Many teachers have modified office hours for distance learning. Set an appointment where you can share factors in your home that might hinder your child’s progress. Collaborate with them to create meaningful enrichment activities to keep your learner engaged.
5. Amass Online Resources
Even if you are a stay-at-home parent who devotes themselves to homeschool full-time, you shouldn’t answer every question your child has. Learning how to do independent research is a vital educational objective.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to say, “figure it out,” and crush your child’s spirit. Instead, arm yourself with a collection of online resources that you can point them to when they get stuck.
6. Observe in Moderation
Homeschool offers you a birds’ eye view of your child’s classroom. You can pop in at any time merely by sticking your head in your little one’s bedroom doorway while they attend class.
However, resist the urge to intervene unless something untoward occurs that you deem threatening. Depending on the technology used, your child’s teacher and classmate may see you standing there half-dressed or smoking something — not behaviors you want on public display.
7. Give Adequate Breaks
If your child gets stuck on an essay, forcing them to stare at the screen until they complete it could backfire. Learning should never be a punishment, and your child’s brain is a muscle. It can tire out, too.
Instead, schedule your child breaks throughout the day. Make these resemble ordinary recess by getting them away from screens and into the fresh air whenever possible. A break sometimes boosts productivity by allowing your child to experience that “a-ha” moment while she’s busy playing tag in the backyard.
8. Get Involved in Extracurriculars
Your child’s school likely canceled fall sports if they are returning to a homeschool schedule. However, many continue other extracurricular activities, such as the yearbook club.
Encourage your child to get involved in these projects. Participation in extracurricular events can improve your little one’s chances of getting into their college of choice. If they decide to go through technical training instead, they can use the time to reconnect with classmates and ease loneliness.
9. Reward Work Well Done
Don’t forget the lessons learned from Behaviorism 101. If you want your children to persist in positive actions, you need to reward them for a job well done. Otherwise, they’ll figure, “what’s the point,” and start to slack.
If your little one aces an exam or an essay, let them select dinner for the evening — even if that means they want mac & cheese again. Treat them to a weekend outing for a stellar report card and reward effort by giving them extra playtime if they successfully stay on task and avoid distractions during a live lecture.
Moms, Deal With Distance Learning This Year With These 9 Tips
If you are a busy mom, dealing with distance learning can present challenges. Make your homeschool experience more pleasant this year with the nine tips above.