I think we all can agree this is going to be one crazy school year. We’re headed into the unknown (or into the unknooooooooooown as my 3-year-old regularly sings – get the Frozen 2 reference? ) and that can cause a lot of anxiety for parents and teachers. Getting comfortable when things are uncomfortable is difficult, and we are all just doing our best. As parents and teachers of kids, we need to put on a good front at times like these. Whether you’re kiddos are remote learning or going back to school full-time, children look to us to provide stability and structure while remaining flexible as the seasons change.
I’m planning to keep my daughter home this year and undertake her schooling with the help of my mother and husband. It’s a decision we made as a family with everyone’s health in mind but remote learning is hard. Not to mention, I’m remote learning too! (Check out my post on my dissertation.) It’s even harder when both parents need to work while monitoring a 3-year-old on Zoom circle time. So, I went to the experts to help guide me in creating a structured routine and household atmosphere to win remote learning this year.
Recently, I virtually participated in one of Hello Weldon’s Socials – Emotionally Preparing Toddlers, Preschoolers (and Parents!) for Back to School, lead by Lynn Burrell, a school psychologist in Los Angeles, and Gretchen Richer, Head of Family Experience at Vivvi. I learned a ton about creating a positive, routinized learning environment for toddlers and pre-schoolers. As parents are making the difficult decision to send kids back to school, it’s nice to know that Hello Weldon is here to help parents navigate through the year, whether our kids will be learning remotely or participating in a hybrid form of education. Here are some tips for remote learning from the pros:
- Set up a designated learning station. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it could just be a corner of a room, but create a space for your little one to sit every day and work. Keep all their supplies (i.e. markers, crayons, paper, puzzles, etc.) nearby and handy. Carving out a workspace sets up a routinized time and space for work and helps kiddos to understand work time’s importance. Older kids can design and create their own space using the old-school science fair trifold poster boards. To save space and keep the house organized, parents can also set up a portable work station with all of the crayons, paper, markers, pencils, etc. handy, so it can easily be put away when it’s time to move on.
- Showcase a visible daily schedule. Whether you print, draw or write a daily schedule, keep it visible and talk about the daily schedule with your kids (and partners) each morning. This way you’re all on the same page. As each part of the day goes by, you could check-off all the completed tasks. It’s also good to have a visible calendar so your kids can see what days they have school. Older kids can work on their own schedules and post to in their workspaces. Scheduling and calendaring provides you and your kiddo a sense of time and accomplishment. Give yourselves a pat on the back for the hard work you’re all doing!
- Rewards and breaks. Giving yourselves a pat on the back is call for a break and a reward. Taking a break and rewarding with something special is beneficial for children and adults alike, but be careful what you reward with. From a nutrition standpoint, I don’t recommend the use of food as a reward because typical reward foods are treats – candy and the like. Treats are for special occasions. I wouldn’t use them regularly as a reward, if at all. Food as a reward wrongly puts emphasis on foods that tend to be unhealthy. That being said, snacks are necessary for adults and kids. When you need a break, sharing a healthy snack with your kids is the way to go. And, put the emphasis on taking a break, not the reward food. To tag-off this post, I wrote about snacks and meals to keep you and your kids fueled-up for remote learning. You can check that out for snack break ideas. Other rewards that don’t include food could be taking a walk, playing outside, having a dance party, or a few minutes on the iPad.
One final note Lynn and Gretchen left us with is FLEXIBILITY. Keep the mantra, “flexibility” in your head at all times. It takes some special educators to work with toddlers and preschoolers every day. As parents working with our kids remotely, things will shift and evolve as the school year gets figured out. There will be a lot of trial and error for everyone in this schooling period so be kind and flexible. Thank you, Hello Weldon for the great advice!