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Tips for Distance Learning

hands typing on a computer with a notebook nearby

Families are scrambling to prepare for their children to be engaged in distance learning from home for the next few weeks.  Here are a few tips to help make the transition a successful one.

Set up a designated learning area.

Find a space that works well for your students; many kids work best with minimal noise and activity – set their space up in a quiet environment.  Some thrive with more stimulating surroundings t and can work in a busier room like the kitchen or family room. Make sure it's somewhere you can easily monitor their activity and assist as needed. If you have multiple children, you may need to spread them out a bit to remove distractions from siblings.

Set up a table or desk that is dedicated to schoolwork, and find a comfortable chair that will promote good posture and focus.  Ensure there is proper lighting for reading and studying. Add a tray or basket with any supplies that might be needed: pens, pencils, highlighters, notebooks, textbooks, etc.  Make sure the charger for the computer is plugged in and ready to go. If you've got a whiteboard, you can bring it over and add it to the space. Put up some motivational posters and decor, if you like. 

If you have younger children at home, this might be a great time to have them "play school;" set up a space for them with craft supplies, books, puzzles and games they can engage with while their older siblings are completing their schoolwork. 

Prepare your tech.

Make sure your internet connection is strong. Ensure your computer has the most current updates completed and is ready for some heavier use. You may need to set up multiple devices for multiple children, and maybe even use different means of connecting to the school or classwork for each child. Make sure everyone has chargers for their devices nearby. Familiarize yourself with Google Classroom (or equivalents) so that you can assist if your students are struggling to access online course material.  Find out who you should contact if problems arise. 

Minimize distractions. 

Make a game plan with your child.  Talk about how they need to approach this like they would a regular class time at school.  This means no TV and electronic devices while virtual instruction is taking place. Agree in advance what the "rules of engagement" are, and prepare to enforce them. If students have to give a presentation or appear online, make sure they feel comfortable in the space and have some privacy if needed to avoid disruption. Talk with other family members about expectations for facilitating a positive learning environment. 

Create structure.

Write out and post a basic schedule for your family to give everyone some structure for the day.  Start with your morning routine like you normally would before going to school. Log in and get your academic plan for the day from your teachers, or do some quiet reading time. Weather permitting, go outside and go for a walk or play in the driveway for a bit to get some physical activity and fresh air.  Settle in for some school work, then take a short break for a snack or lunch. Go back outside or have some indoor “recess” before finishing up school work for the day. Try to keep bedtimes somewhat similar to what you’ve been doing all year.  

Stay flexible. 

For many of us, this is a new experience.  There are going to be challenges and changes.  Make the best of a difficult situation – help your children to see the positive side of things. Allow for breaks, connection time with their friends and classmates (and your friends, too!), and support your student as they make the adjustment. Extend grace to your child, their teachers, and to yourself as we all experience this together.  We can do this!