Suddenly found yourself entering into distance learning with your kids? You’re not alone!
Whether you have been given distinct school guidelines for distance learning by your school or you are looking to commence with your own homeschooling journey, we have gathered 10 easy steps to successfully set up your daily learning routine (without any of you losing your mind!).
Getting your house ready for distance learning
Setting the right environment in your home for distance learning is essential for success.
1. Provide a suitable work-space
We all work better with a space that is specifically designed for a certain activity and our children are no exception.
Having a space that we associate with a certain activity helps concentration and mental order and it allows to better separate school work and family time, no matter how small your house may be.
To give your children (and yourself!) the best shot at successful distance learning, make sure your children do their schooling sitting at a table, ideally in a room with natural light and with minimal distractions.
Find here our tips to set out the perfect homeschooling corner in your home!
2. Avoid distractions
If your house is anything like ours, it is a busy place with some rooms taking the lion share of family life. Does a kitchen that also operates as TV room, remote control car racing circuit and mom’s HQ sound familiar? Uh huh, we thought so.
In an ideal world, we would all have a separate room to devote to learning but this doesn’t have to be, to make distance learning work for your family.
Whatever space you have available, the most important thing is to make it distraction-free.
- Switch off the TV and set a rule that no one in the family, even if not a student, can watch it during school hours
- Switch off the radio, music and any sort of noise. Check noise coming from other rooms is not too intrusive: all family members need to get on board for distance learning to work out
- Avoid doing housework around your child during schooling hours: don’t hoover around them, wash dishes in the same room or try to declutter. This will break up concentration and make studying slower and harder.
- Tell friends and family the distance learning hours of your kids so they know not to call until the school day is finished/ Even better: you can agree hours with a close friend so the kids feel that, like in school, they are not missing out on playtime as everyone is working, just like them
3. Avoid visual clutter
Have you ever noticed how tidy classrooms are before the kids go in? This is because visual clutter can make kids and adults stressed and ratty and also interfere with learning.
As much as possible, clear out the designated learning space of clutter and other objects and have a look around the room. Are the surfaces reasonably clean and empty, do they portray a sense of calm?
You don’t need to alter your home for this but at least for learning hours, try to remove visual clutter from the room. Ask your children to help so they know they are responsible for their own space too, just like when they are in school!
Plan your distance learning day
Teachers are professionals at creating school schedules but there are some easy tips that we can follow to give structure our schooling day in the house too.
4. Decide a duration and time for your distance learning day
Distance learning in most instances doesn’t need to follow the standard school hours. However, it is important to establish early on what moments are work-work and which ones are for play and family life.
Each family is different and you can decide whether the morning the afternoon works better for your family. Building on the tips at the start of this article, make sure you take a look at your family routine to pick the best time:
- Are people coming and going in the morning? Then maybe afternoon homeschooling sessions are better.
- Does the afternoon get busy with phone calls with grandma and their favorite TV program? Then devoting the morning to school work is wiser.
Whatever works for your family, try to start as you mean to go on: it is easier for kids to accept work time if they know when to expect it and how long it will go on for.
5. Include breaks
Breaks are crucial for learning and mental well being. Maybe sure you include a suitable number of them during your day at home: they will work wonders for your child and you!
6. Alternate high/low concentration exercising and high/low energy tasks
Each child operates differently but it is important for all of them to get some variety in the type of task they have at hand.
- Make sure a hard activity that requires a lot of concentration is followed by a more fun, relaxing and calming one.
- A little like when you exercise in the gym, alternate effort and time to breathe and stretch for best results!
7. Help children to organize their sheets and books in the correct order
Save time and stress telling your child in what order you are going to tackle subjects and help them organize their study materials in the right order.
If your child has been supplied with learning materials, get them to pile their books neatly on the table so they can easily reach them and encourage them to put them back at the bottom of the pile once each subject is done.
We have found a whiteboard with the daily subjects for each child really helps. They can see their visual journey for the day and keeps us all on track what is coming up.
8. Encourage children to do as much as they can by themselves first
At the start of the distance learning journey, it can be frustrating to see our kids struggling with the work that is set for them. It is perfectly normal for children to need some time to figure out tasks and this doesn’t mean they are failing, or that you are. Dealing between technology and paper can be half the battle.
Do your best to teach them and then leave time for them to try and apply what they learned to their homework. Let them work hard to try to figure it out themselves: this will help develop their problem-solving skills and self-esteem.
9. Then provide support
If your child cannot figure out one of the tasks, sit with them and provide support. First with prompts that can get them started or going back to the concept they are working on and explaining it again.
As exasperating as this can be, especially if you are under the impression the task should be easier for them than it turns out to be, stay calm and patient: feeling the anger and frustration growing in your parent/teacher makes learning even harder and may let the child feel insecure and unworthy. Patience and kindness are your allies here.
Encourage neat work with correctly formed letters, full stops and capital letters
Children take huge pride in neat and beautiful work. Encourage them to work with concentration and help them develop attention to details encouraging them to be careful with their big/small letters, full stops and letter forming.
For the younger ones, make sure they use a pencil so they can easily try again should their first attempt go wrong.
Look through work and help children make corrections themselves
After the work is done, check it and mark what parts need corrections. Mark them with a dot or a small mark and ask the child to go through them again and check if they can spot the mistake themselves.
Be encouraging and supporting and avoid humiliating your child: we all make mistakes!
10. Help children tidy and sort their work at the end of the day
The end of the learning day is as important as its beginning. Once work is done, encourage your kids to staple or pin together their sheets and store them carefully, this will make it easier start fresh the following day.