What’s inside this article: 8 tips to help your child find success during distance learning, sample routines, eliminating distractions, a list of great educational apps for kids, and links to printable learning resources.
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Parents all over the world are entering uncharted territory. I know many of you are trying to work at home, while also homeschool your child or support them through distance education with their school district.
How can you help your child find success through distance learning?
I’ve got some tips for you. I also have some printables at the end of this post.
I’ve had a lot of experience finding ways to support a child who doesn’t want to do school work and it’s given me a bit of a leg up at home.
However, I’ve also been encountering tons of challenges over the past 3 weeks and working through them. So I’m ready to share some tips that will help others.
Give Your Child Some Credit
Before I get into tips for helping them learn through distance learning, this needs to be said. Give your child some credit right now!
Right now, our kids lives are turned upside down.
They’re stuck inside without fully understanding why. They suddenly can’t go to school, see their friends, or their family.
Their entire routine changed overnight. Now there are all these new rules they’ve never had to follow before.
Their minds are probably racing, even if they aren’t acting like it, as they try to process all the changes around them.
Expect behavior problems, expect them to be more emotional than usual, expect some resistance. That’s normal right now.
Tips for Successful Distance Learning
Okay on to the tips.
1. Establish Your Routine
I can’t stress this enough.
I just mentioned childrens’ strong need for structure and predictability. Establish a new routine for them right away. The sooner they learn it and can begin settling into this new normal, the better.
It doesn’t need to be a super rigid routine where you’re devoting all your time to teaching them instead of parenting. Just establish some order in your home.
Make a visual schedule and display it for your kids.
Depending on their age, you can include visuals or just words.
Here is ours:
There are a few things worth noticing on our routine that I’m going to mention as the next few tips.
2. Don’t Stack Challenging or Unpreferred Activities
For most kids, being home is where they can relax and enjoy themselves most of the time.
Adding extra academic time is challenging for simply that reason alone.
Always schedule something fun right after academic time. Don’t expect them to do two hard tasks in a row. It will lead to heightened frustration levels and they won’t be as productive.
You’ll notice on our schedule that after every block of academic time, there are two things:
It’s not a coincidence that their days are arranged in this way.
3. Kids Don’t Need to Spend That Much Time Working When They’re Doing Distance Education
Our school e-mailed us guidelines for how much work kids should be doing every day.
For those in elementary school, they only need about 1 hour of academic time each day. For highschool students, they recommend 3 hours per subject per week.
A lot of our kids’ learning happens naturally through their experiences, their play, etc. You don’t need to provide 5 hours of instruction to your child every day.
4. Kids DO Need Lots of Active Time
Kids actually need between 1.5 and 2 hours of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. If your child is an energetic sensory seeker, they might need more.
It’s harder than ever to get out and be active. Many places have now closed down parks, playgrounds, and trails.
You’ll notice on our schedule, we have 1 hour and 45 minutes of active time every day, plus sometimes we extended the afternoon one.
So how are we staying active?
5. Do The Most Challenging Academic Work in The Morning
We like to get whatever the kids find the hardest over with first thing in the morning. It seems to be easiest for them to focus on tasks at this time.
It’s not necessarily that it’s hard work or material they dislike, it’s just easier for them to give their full effort in the morning.
For example, my son actually enjoys math but it requires a sustained focus that isn’t always easy for him (even in the mornings).
6. Eliminate Distractions
You’d be surprised how many distractions there are at home.
Even for a child who focuses well at school, they might have trouble ignoring distractions at home. Since the distractions in your house are more enticing than the ones at school.
The family dog or cat, all the child’s toys and favorite activities, the TV, you. These things are all at home, but not at school.
We’ve been dealing with a lot of trial and error in this category and are finally figuring things out.
For example, my oldest needs to wear headphones while my youngest does math because she counts out loud and it’s distracting.
They can’t do writing at the same table together because if one of them needs to erase something it shakes the table too much for the other.
My daughter needs to be away from the TV completely because she will slowly gravitate towards it as if she’s stuck in it’s orbit.
The dog’s a welcome distraction for everyone. Who would’t choose a cuddle over math questions?
7. When Your Child Encounters Issues, Accommodate Them
I’ve always had to work with the school on accommodating my oldest’s needs and now I’m doing it at home – and it’s probably going to benefit him when he does go back to school since I’m getting new insights on his academic challenges.
I realized that he gets overwhelmed when there are a lot of questions on a single page, even if he doesn’t need to answer them all or they’re something he’s really good at.
He does a lot better when I use a larger font and only put 2 or 3 questions on the page, and then he’ll do multiple pages of work.
This change makes him feel productive and accomplished, rather than overwhelmed.
Visual supports are another helpful way of accommodating students. Print and display learning resources like multiplication charts, sight words, and other educational posters can help them complete their work independently.
8. Use Educational Apps to Make Distance Learning Easier
I’m not a teacher.
I can make up activities that offer practice for my kids but when it comes to actually teaching new material, I don’t have the training.
Sure, I can do a pretty good job at a lot of things but other things I can’t.
My daughter was receiving 45 minutes of 1 on 1 learning every day for literacy and writing. She struggles significantly with reading and I know I can’t provide that same value at home.
I want her to be successful, so we’re using educational apps to supplement both kiddo’s learning.