They say home is where the heart is. During this unique moment in history, home is also where many families live, work, and go to school…together.
With many of the nation’s schools closed and stay-at-home orders in effect for most states, some parents have stepped up to teach their kids. Many parents will find the adjustment to working from home while helping their students with the school to be disorienting, distracting, and isolating.
As with any transition, there are pros and cons. So, what can stressed-out parents do to help their kids thrive while working from home?
Here are 12 tips for distance learning and how to create an effective learning environment at home…
12 Tips for Distance Learning & How to Help Your Child Thrive at Home
1. Establish a Daily Schedule
Some kids are more active and may resist a structured study time. On the flip side, some kids thrive in a structured environment. To make sure everyone’s on the same page, determine the best work/study flow for everyone in the family and post a daily schedule in the house where everyone can see what activities will be happening at what times.
2. Get Up Early
Parents who follow the old “Early Bird” adage, may find that getting up before their kids allows them to ease into the day before being bombarded with requests, questions, activities, and responsibilities. This strategy can help parents settle into their workday with minor tasks, such as responding to emails, during their kids’ study times. Recess/exercise breaks can be an ideal time to work on high-level projects or make business calls.
3. Take a Break
Although it sounds counterintuitive as a time management strategy, research demonstrates that taking a break actually improves focus and efficiency. Depending on your child’s attention span, you may do a 30- or 45-minute lesson followed by 15 minutes of free time, especially active playtime. By switching their attention to something else for a brief period, your child can return to their studies with a renewed focus.
4. Get Moving
In lieu of PE class or team sports, organize an exercise schedule for the whole family. Getting active together, with a fast-paced walk around the neighborhood or an indoor workout, can help improve mood, decrease stress, and alleviate anxious feelings. Physical activity boosts dopamine and enhances blood flow to the brain, which should help you and your kid(s) think more clearly.
5. Check-in Frequently
Many children have difficulties with follow-through. If this describes one of your kids, make sure they know exactly what’s expected of them in each lesson and that assignments are completed on time. Frequently checking in with your child will help them stay on track and ensure that they don’t miss a deadline.
6. Use Positive Reinforcement
Kids tend to react better to encouragement than criticism. Rather than pointing out what they’re doing wrong – not finishing an assignment on time, answering a test question incorrectly, or fidgeting – be sure to notice what they’re doing right. Saying things like, “You’re doing a great job” can go a long way toward boosting their confidence.
7. Stay Calm
Some children, particularly those with low levels of dopamine, thrive on conflict. They can be masterful at making other people frustrated or angry at them. Never lose your patience with a child, and always look for ways to maintain peace in your home.
8. Streamline Your Lunchtime
Get the whole family involved in making lunches the previous evening so you don’t waste valuable time the next day. This will help free up your lunch break to make business calls, set up appointments, pay bills, or spend some quality time with your family. Instead of making lunches one day at a time, you can set up the entire week’s lunches by doing meal prep over the weekend.
9. Get Creative
According to a 2016 study, spending 45 minutes making art can significantly lower cortisol (a major stress hormone). Joining your kids can provide a creative release for you and allow you to spend more time with your kids doing something fun. Creative hobbies can offer physical and mental health benefits, so carve out some time in your schedule for them.
10. Limit Screen Time
If you need to take an important call or are on a tight deadline to finish a project, you can grant your kids screen time to keep them occupied. Though not a stopgap you should use on a consistent basis, it can be a huge help if you’re in a bind. If you’re concerned about what your kids are viewing, or how much time they’re spending on apps, games, or social media, you can use a program like Apple’s Screen Time to block content and set time limits.
11. Set Up a Snack Station
Right after breakfast, set up a table with cups, pitchers of water, and trays of healthy snacks. This will save you from having to constantly run to the kitchen to grab snacks or fill cups for your kids. Also, feeding your kids healthy snacks will help provide them with an increase in energy and focus.
12. Enlist Help
If you feel like you’re in over your head, or just need a break to run some errands, consider handing over the reins to a trusted friend or family member. This can be particularly advantageous if your brother-in-law is excellent at math or your mother can teach your kids culinary skills. Don’t feel embarrassed to reach out for help; sharing the load might end up being a win for everyone involved.
Following these twelve tips can help you balance your work responsibilities while making sure your kids get the most out of their at-home schooling. If you have a helpful tip that wasn’t mentioned above, please share it in the comment section below.
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