This year has changed our back-to-school routine for good. My older kid, who is attending school, is usually very happy to go shop for the beginning of the year school supplies. Before a first school day after summer holidays, he would be so excited about seeing his classmates, that he would barely sleep the night before. This year, we shopped for a pair of good headphones with a mic, a laptop, some cool t-shirts, and a hope that this pandemic will be over soon. Online learning, here we come!
It turns out that parents around the world are facing the same problem. Not only do we have to balance our work and home life while working from a home shift office. Now, we found ourselves in a new role – teacher’s right hand. And this is hard. Let me say that again. We love our kids, but this is hard on us. And it is even harder on our kids. The remote school is not something kids are doing voluntarily. This is a necessity due to safety reasons.
We are all aware of the educational, social and emotional benefits of in-person schooling. But we have to balance the positives of in-person school with the potential of our children catching – and spreading – the COVID-19 virus.
On the other hand, the virtual classroom will most likely be an option in the future. This is a chance for us parents to learn how to support our kids and help them navigate andadapt to a new school system.
Developing a Routine for the Online Learning Situation
We all know how important routines are in children’s lives. They provide a feeling of safety, as kids know what to expect when they recognize repeated actions. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus earlier this year, many parents and children, my family included, found it hard to adjust. Our motto was ‘one day at a time’. However, as the new school year began, our old modus operandi did not seem to fit anymore. The lack of daily routines made our adjusting process that much harder.
To help both my kids and myself manage our schedules and introduce some sort of consistency with the at-home-school-and-work-life, we created a chart.
While it might sound silly at first, the chart helps them increase organizational skills and makes the home-school run more smoothly. Children, especially the younger ones, will enjoy seeing their accomplishments recorded on a chart, and they also enjoy working towards a goal. So it would be good to motivate them by rewarding them for completing all the activities on the charts. Week by week and they will accept and realize all the activities without pressure because this will become a learned habit for them.
Quarantine for Distraction
Even though our school years have passed without the internet and electronic gadgets, a distraction from studying was very hard to avoid. Our parents tried to monitor our learning progress and forbid the use of all the distraction tools, which, back in the day, were telephones, radio, tv, good old books, etc. The material for distraction these days is hard to control.
Studying online while trying not to play games, check social media, watch something on streaming services is an almost an impossible quest. What we can do is limiting our children’s cell phones and tablets until their schoolwork is done. We are aware that they can have all the apps on the laptop during their class time. But we can use parental controls to prevent them from sneaking into the online distraction world.
Read more: How to stimulate your child’s learning processes
Online learning makes attention span shorter. The break between classes or even during the class for very young children is very important. I usually set the alarm to remind my son when it is time to take a break. This will help your kids to rest for a while. They can get up and grab a breath of fresh air. Or perhaps do a few sit-ups, because physical activity can help them charge the batteries and continue online learning rested and more productive. Hearing the alarm ring, can to a certain extent simulate the feeling of school, since the sound of an alarm is similar to those they would encounter at school.
Small Home Projects
To make learning about the new school topic fun and engaging, parents could support hands-on learning by creating a home (school)-projects. Let’s say your child is learning about the water cycle, the best way to learn about this topic is to see it in practice.
All you need for this home experiment is a plastic bowl, cling film, a mug and a string. We start the experiment by placing the mug at the bottom of the bowl. The next step would be to add water around the mug so that it comes up to 2/3rd of the mug. Then we cover the bowl tightly in clingfilm and fasten in place with the string.
Your kid could see condensation drops of water on the top of the cling film and that the water level has lowered proving that evaporation has taken place. The condensation droplets are representing the clouds. They will be dripping back into the bowl but you should find that some of the water is now in the cup representing precipitation. This is something they will remember and explained when being asked by the teacher.
Here are some more ideas that can help your kid learn more interactively.
Offline Learning is Important
My kid is studying online, playing online games, during his free time, has online playdates, plays music on his tablet. His average screen time shall not be named. Undoubtedly, this can be harmful to his development. But want can we do as parents to decrease the screen time?
If you are anything like me, then you are slammed with work. So, what I found to be very helpful is discussing some school topics with my kid during dinner time. By doing this, I am in a position to monitor the progress he is making in school. But dinner time is not only for school-related topics. This is the time to introduce a new book, suggest he makes a treasure map for his brother, or perform an experiment the next day. We also work on his self-expression by encouraging painting (or you can suggest creative writing if your child is older) and imaginative storytelling. We discuss stories he has red and different endings or turn of the events the story could have.
A Few More Tips Before You Go
The pandemic situation is something completely new to all of us. We are forced to limit social interaction much more than it is natural to humans as social beings. But we have the internet. And using it as a tool to talk to your family and friend is very important. So encourage your kids to use FaceTime as much as they like, during their free time. Organizing face-to-face interaction is also very helpful keeping in mind safety precautions.
So let’s conclude that parenting is a tough job and pandemic is not making it any easier. But with a decent plan and a lot of patience, love and self-care, you can get through it. Try to make it more fun. Enjoy every moment with your kids. Plan some activities for the whole family. Remind yourself that between school and work obligations, it’s rare for parents and children to have this much time together. So, turn this free time into an opportunity for bonding. Put the new TV show in your daily routine chart. Organize a tournament, family card games, cooking experiment, or get outside for a walk or picnic together. At the end of the day, this will all pass. But having fun with their parents is something they will never forget. It’s time to make lasting memories with your kids!
This article is part of our series on Generation Alpha
We seek to provide answers to your most pressing questions about keeping your kids safe online, introducing them to the digital world, and helping them be their authentic selves online.
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