A New Reality: Tips for Virtual Learning and Homeschooling

Whether by choice or necessity, now more than ever, parents have turned to virtual learning or homeschooling as a means of education for their children. Though seemingly impossible for some parents, I hope some of these tips will help you navigate and simplify the process.

We are in our third year of homeschooling, so I am by no means an expert in this topic, but I’ve been surrounded by amazing parents who have shared their experiences, do’s and don’ts, setbacks and joys.

If you’ve dove into the full-on homeschooling experience, I highly recommend planning your curriculum in advance. I usually take a few hours on a Saturday and organize each day’s lessons into a divided folder for the next two weeks. Have a separate folder for each kid. This way, you’re not sifting through a ton of papers each morning trying to figure out what you need. If you have extra sections in the front, you can use these for tests and quizzes, your yearly calendar, etc.

Amazon Basics is $10 for a 2-pack or you can get the 6-pocket Five Star for $10

If you’re homeschooling or your school’s virtual learning program is flexible, I recommend planning out your school year on a separate fill-in calendar. If you want to take an extra long break around Christmas, you can. There are families who take the whole month of December off. We start in early August so we can take a 2-week break in the fall and spend time outside when it’s cooler.

Most of us will most likely be doing this for a year or more, so might as well make it as fun as possible, right? Carve out a little spot for a desk, (or 2, or 3), and make that your school area. This is especially fun for younger kids or those new to the home school thing. You can hang number and letter examples, incentive charts and even make a theme out of something they love.

If you have really little ones, giving them their own space will not only make them feel included, but will cut down on the distractions, as well.

I set up my toddler with her own Baby Shark-themed desk with coloring books, play dough, and preschool level work pages.

And this doesn’t have to break the bank. The Dollar Store and Craigslist are your friends.

If you can, purchase a small wall-mount TV with wifi compatibility to stream classes and play educational videos. Explain that this is a school-only TV and they’ll probably want to do school. Again, look for sales and used TV’s, and you won’t have to pay a fortune.

I pull up my son’s classes on my computer and cast to his TV. I’m able to watch his videos on one monitor and work on the other. If you work from home, this is a LIFE-SAVER. You can get a refurbished monitor for $25-$60 on sites like discountelectronics.com

My friend Cassie set up this Pinterest-worthy learning station for her kids. I love the at-a-glance calming strategies and organization pockets that keep everything within reach. You can find some of these supplies at Amazon and Target.

This daily schedule pocket chart, perfect for kids who like consistency, is sold by Amazon.

So, now that you have the perfect set-up for whatever your situation might be, know that you don’t have to stay cooped up in one room every day. School can happen anywhere. If your kitchen is starting to develop a mysterious smell like mine, pull up their videos on your phone and/or give them their seat work and have them work at the kitchen table while you search for the culprit. On a nice day, assuming there aren’t too many distractions, head to the back yard. Learning doesn’t have to be confined to a desk.

This may seem obvious, but sometimes we forget to keep an open mind. Every child learns differently and what we envision at the start of the year may not be June’s reality.

Finally, make it fun! If they’re really young, print off pictures and have them add little stickers to them when they get a problem right. A plus in having a class of one or a few is you can cater to their interests. Make little Poke balls and put letters inside they have to use to create words. If they like Minecraft, draw little Creepers or Steves they have to add together to learn combinations. Get creative!

Resources:

If you need practical tips or emotional support, there are hundreds of Facebook groups, YouTube channels and virtual webinars and conferences to help you learn and, well, keep your sanity.

Subscribe to The Recycled Mom on YouTube. This homeschooling guru and personal friend will be covering some practical tips for homeschoolers in the next few weeks.

This 45-minute webinar recording provides information on positive reinforcement and environment and is perfect for homeschooling newbies.

A few more links :

Coding for kids on Code.org

Scholastic has great craft ideas for elementary students.

The Spruce Crafts is another great option.

Education.com has science project ideas categorized by grade.

Special Thanks to: Darlene Taylor, contributor for Recycled Mom, Jessica Havlir for allowing me to share her webinar recording, and Cassie Deplitch for desk and organization ideas. /Fall Photo by Vanessa von Wieding on Unsplash

Author: audrasanlyn

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