I don’t know about you, but after 3+ months of distance learning AND the summer months under our belts, I was sure that schools were going to open in the fall with at least a hybrid model. And yet, here we are: many children in public schools around the country will begin school at home, online.
If you’re feeling at all like many of the parents I’ve heard from lately, you’re likely wondering things like:
- How am I supposed to keep my kids motivated?
- How can I be sure they’re getting the support they need?
- What if they fall behind?
- What about their social-emotional well-being?
- I’m not a teacher! How am I supposed to work from home with all the kids here with me?
If you’re dreading the new year for any reason, I want you to wiggle your shoulders. Relax your jaw. Now, take a deep breath. It’s going to be OKAY. You will be okay.
Huh? What? I thought this article was about school and my kids?
Children take their lead from us. If we’re worried or anxious, they’re more likely to be worried and anxious. If we’re talking negatively about an experience (such as distance learning), they’re more likely to resist that experience.
On the other hand, if we’re calm and self-assured—even if we’re uncertain and don’t have all the answers—they’re more likely to be calm and open, too. In other words, if we want to build confidence in our kids, it helps for us to feel some confidence too!
Q: How can you make distance learning a positive and enriching experience this school year?
A: With a positive, open attitude—and a plan.
In order to start the year off on a high note, consider the following:
- Control. We can’t control how long traditional schools will be closed. But we CAN control what happens in our homes. The first step is accepting the situation.
Let me play devil’s advocate for a minute—distance learning may last a few more months, or it may last all year.We don’t truly know. So, the sooner you can accept the current reality as something that just IS, the sooner you’ll be able to let go of any lingering resistance and focus that energy on your plan instead.
- Know where you’re headed. When traveling, we use a map to help us stay on track and not go astray from our desired destination. Transfer that same concept to your home. What’s your desired outcome for virtual learning in your home? (If your first thought is, “that they go back to school,” you may need to spend a little more time with #1.)
- Create a plan. Give it a grandiose name — The Oswald’s Magical Unicorn Plan for the Whole Family Working Together in 2020—or just jot some notes on a piece of scrap paper. All good maps have mile-markers to help guide us to our destination. Some important mile-markers to include on your distance learning map are:
- Check in regularly. Refer to your map on a weekly basis to be sure you’re on track. Talk it out as a family. While you don’t want to change your plan for every little thing, you’re in this together. If someone has a compelling need or there’s a piece that’s really not working, by all means, switch it up!
We may not have control over whether our children are being educated in school or at home.; But if this semester does end up being completely at home, we definitely do have control over how positive and nurturing the environment is in order to reduce stress and maximize learning.
If this sounds like a good idea, but you’re not sure exactly where to start, I have created Distance Learning: A Mini-Course for Parents—an online program designed to walk you through the process of putting together your at-home learning plan. This 5-day, go-at-your-own-pace, mini-course is available as of August 17th, and is delivered to your inbox each day!
I don’t just want you to survive distance learning. I want both you and your kids to thrive through a shared experience.