7 Tips and Tricks to Make Virtual Learning Fun
No matter how your kids are going back to school this year, there’s a lot of hard decisions to make. Do I send them back in person for socialization? Do I keep them healthy at home but keep them away from their classrooms? Do I have what it takes to help them with virtual learning?
I’ve been doing a little bit of both with one little in a small preschool a couple days a week and a kindergartener learning from home with our family. We’ve had some ups and downs, and we’ve all learned a little along the way — not just my kiddos!
Here’s seven tips I’ve used so far that have helped our family learn at home and enjoy it!
Be positive about it!
This is a change of pace for almost everyone, and we get it! Part of the time when kids are away at school is when mamas can relax, recharge, clean, prepare, and do so many other things that it’s tough to do with little ones needing your attention. With the kids home all the time, it can be a big mental adjustment, but their feelings will reflect yours.
If they can tell you don’t want to do it, they won’t, either. Being enthusiastic about the changes — even if it’s fake sometimes — will get the kids excited for a new way of learning.
Start with a doable routine and stick with it.
You may not be able to keep the kids glued to learning from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week. That’s ok! Trying to force your life to be like in-school life is unrealistic, but having a solid routine that works for everyone is possible!
Give your kids some time in the morning to wake up depending on their schedules, and don’t expect every kid to be the same. My 2-year-old can only handle our lessons for a few minutes at a time sometimes while my 5-year-old has a much longer attention span for learning.
I like to arrange the day into blocks, like creative learning in the morning and a little science block before lunch with some recess and reading in the afternoon. Kids LOVE structure and knowing science always comes in the middle of the morning and right before lunch gives them some understanding of where the day is headed.
With this, however, comes setting realistic expectations. You won't become a master teacher overnight, and you will run into road blocks. That's ok!
Make a designated space for learning.
School is what it is because of the people, but it’s also a special place where your child understands they have come to learn. If you want that same kind of atmosphere at home, take any space, whether it’s a room or a table or a corner, and make that the dedicated learning space.
We’re taking a Montessori approach to our learning from home where the kids lead the way. Everything is perfect for their size and on their level so they can easily pick the day’s activities. The room is also free of clutter and non-learning toys to keep their minds away from screen time and into reading, drawing, or writing!
Create lessons that you can teach
Your children have already learned a lot from you to even walk and talk and eat and color. That’s you being a teacher, mama!
Not every homeschooling lesson needs to be about math, science, and history. At least, not directly.
Do you love to garden? There’s a host of lessons right there from the life cycle of a plant, how to count, why we need bugs, where different plants come from, and so many more!
Do you cook? How about sewing? Your kids will grow up fondly remembering the small lessons they had as a child from their parents and grandparents and grow upon these skills because they want to, not because they have to.
One lesson my kids LOVED was totally based around Oreos! We talked about the cycles of the moon and made our own interpretations of them with the cream filling!
Farm out what you can’t make yourself.
If you’re not a trained educator, you can only get your kids so far with your homemade lessons. Luckily, there are tons of resources available.
For the lessons we can’t create, we’ve signed up for Bookshark for the basics and a couple educational subscription boxes for kids.
We’ve also had some apps that are handy for virtual learning, like CodeSpark for coding and ABC Mouse for reading AND math! These are programs that many schools subscribe to and use in the classrooms as well.
Take a break!
Even when you’re in school all day, you’re not constantly learning. Remember cramming for exams and only remembering some of what you studied? Your brain can’t take in constant information without a little down time to absorb and refresh.
Build in a dedicated lunch break, and don’t forget recess! No matter how old your kids are, a quick break to run around outside and release some energy is great for their health and their learning journey!
Bad weather outside? No problem! My kids and I love doing online workouts in the living room together and, best part, so many are free! YouTube has a wealth of yoga, bodyweight, and cardio workouts you can do with no equipment and just a little floorspace! Cosmic Kids Yoga and Headspace Meditation have been great apps for us to take a learning break.
Setbacks don’t make you a failure.
Every parent is struggling right now, no matter where their children are learning. Everything isn’t going to go perfectly, and that’s ok!
Just like the kids, we’re all learning how to navigate these new normals. Some days the kids will throw a fit and refuse to participate. Some days you’re going to have a migraine and struggle to get through it. Give yourself some time to adjust without taking out every mistake on yourself.
Next week, we’ll talk about self care for mamas trying to do it all right now, but until then:
Don’t worry, you’ve got this, mama.