Learning at home can be exhausting. Here are some ways to make it easier.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on everyone, and children are no exception. Without regular access to their normal schedule, including teachers and friends, a child can struggle to stick to a routine. There are a few things parents can do to make sure kids get the proper education, nutrition, and exercise even while they are stuck with virtual schooling.
Tips for Virtual Schooling
Tip #1: Create Structure
Come up with a routine your children can follow everyday. The goal is to make a clear distinction between their “school time” and the rest of the day. This means getting up at a certain time, brushing their teeth, getting out of those pajamas, and most importantly, having a good breakfast. At the end of the day, step away from the computers and find a fun activity to show that the school day has ended.
Another important part of the virtual schooling structure is incorporating breaks like they would normally have in school. For example, “recess” at home might include playing in the yard or doing jumping jacks. Studies found that young kids have an attention span of twenty minutes, so after that time, it could be good to give them a ten-minute break and allow them to exit their designated area. Older kids have longer attention spans, but they still need breaks.
Tip #2: Screen Time is Okay (in Moderation)
Your kids might not be able to see their friends and classmates as much as they would like to. As a result, kids might want to engage in some screen time with their friends or just for themselves. This socialization might be healthy and important for their mental health.
Just make sure you set limits and expectations that you’re comfortable with. This way, everyone knows when it’s time to put the devices down. Clear communication is vital between you and your child so they know they can have that time to socially engage or relax.
Tip #3: Prioritize Physical Activity
Just one hour of physical activity can improve attention, sleep and mood. A few things you can do to encourage more physical activity is:
- Start early. Young children love to play. Encouraging lots of safe, unstructured movement can help build a strong foundation.
- Model an active lifestyle yourself. Kids might be more motivated to get up and move if they see you doing the same thing.
- Go to places that promote activity. This can include public parks, community baseball fields, or basketball courts. Remember to wear masks if other people are present.
Tip #4: Make a Quiet Space
It’s important to create an area (such as a room or corner) where a child can do their learning free from distractions. Not only does this improve concentration, but also having one spot dedicated to school may help them get in the school mindset. During school time, other members of the family should avoid interrupting or going in this space.
Finally, remember to limit the use of cellphones during class time for older children. These may prove to be very distracting. (There’s a reason they’re banned in many schools!)
Cut Yourself Some Slack
We’re all going through a difficult time due to the pandemic. Some days will be good, and some will be more challenging. Keeping those lines of communication open between you and your children will help immensely. Give yourself a break, and remember you’re not alone. Reach out to other parents to see what has been working for them—or even just to vent.