Tips To Help Virtual School Run Smoothly

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Virtual School Tips

I'm sure like most of you, I have found myself doing something during this pandemic that I never thought I would do in life. For me, it is schooling my child at home. Even though once upon a time I thought I wanted to be a teacher, I never wanted to homeschool. However, we decided to choose the virtual option through my daughter's school district this year, for a multitude of reasons, and here I am doing a version of homeschooling.

Our virtual option is very similar to homeschool except that the school system has chosen the curriculum and we submit work on a daily basis. Other than that, we are able to set our own hours and complete the work when it works best for us. Also, because my daughter is younger, I sit with her and serve as her "at-home" teacher just like homeschool. She does have two teachers from our county assigned to her through the virtual system.

I'll be honest, the first two weeks I was overwhelmed. My daughter has been marvelous through all of this and said she likes doing school at home (even though she would still like to return to school). But for me finding a balance of being a full time mom, a full time wife, working part time for the theatre, running my blog and social media channels, doing all of the home duties AND being a teacher has been tough. By nature, I'm a very organized person and still felt overwhelmed - change is tough. But we have finally found our groove and I thought it would be helpful to share the tips I have put in place to help things run smoothly.

Your schooling might look different than ours, but I think some of these tips could still be useful for different schooling options.

1.) Set regular school hours.
Children thrive on a schedule, as do I, so we know that school will start every day at 9 a.m. This gives me plenty of time to workout in the morning, shower, change clothes and get the kids fed and ready before we begin. I have it blocked out in my calendar and know exactly when school will happen every day. This helps me when planning the rest of our activities for the days/weeks. We also decided to start school in the morning because my daughter focuses better at that time. Yes, there would be less distractions if I chose to wait until my two year old takes his afternoon nap, but we felt it was the best decision to start when my daughter gave the most focus. For you, it might be better to do school later. It doesn't matter what time of day you do it, I just recommend setting regular school hours so it is easier to plan the rest of your life.

2.) Take breaks.
It is silly to expect any child to sit still for hours at a time doing school work so breaks are needed. We try to take short breaks between each subject, depending on the length of time it took to complete the subject. Sometimes a break will mean we play a song and dance around. Sometimes I might need to do some work myself and need a longer break, so I will send the kids upstairs or outside to play. Sometimes we take a quick snack break. The important thing to remember is that breaks are important to help your child get their wiggles out and to help them focus again.

3.) Have lots of snacks on hand.
ALL THE SNACKS. This is very helpful because in addition to schooling my daughter, I also have a two year old who wants to do everything his big sister does. So snacks are a good way to allow him to join us at the table, without him crawling up into his sister's chair. Also, apparently doing schoolwork at home makes you very hungry.

4.) Seek help when you can.
I have a special situation where I actually go into an office one day a week and then work specific hours from home on another day. Due to this, I certainly need help to keep school happening. Luckily my parents are nearby to generously watch my children and Tolar has been able to adjust his work schedule at times to also help. We are all having to make adjustments to our schedules to get everything completed. If you have someone in your life who is able to help out in any way, now is not the time to be polite and say no. Take them up on their offer to help. Let them take your small child to the park while you work on school with your older children. Let your mother in law come over and make dinner or do some laundry. Help is needed while we are all taking on more during this time.

5.) Don't give yourself a lot of separate work to do during school hours.
As a type A person who cannot sit idle, it was VERY hard for me to follow this rule. The first several days of school, I would sit at the table with my computer work ready to go. I quickly realized that I needed to be a teacher during school hours more than I needed to do my own work. Admittedly, I got overwhelmed by trying to get all of my work complete and finish school with my daughter at the same time. So I have now switched and I only allow myself to work on things that can be stopped and started a lot. So I do more housework duties during school (like laundry) and save my other work for later in the day. If there is some computer work that doesn't require constant focus, I will work on that as I can. There are plenty of instances where my daughter does independent work and I can do my own thing. But during school hours, she needs my focus as much as I need her to do the same thing.

6.) Allow for play time.
When school is over, I don't let my kids sit in front of the tv. Instead, immediately after school is designated as play time. It helps my daughter to unwind after all of her school work and it gives my son one on one time with his sister. It also allows me time to myself to get things finished!

7.) Get outside when you can.
Living and doing schoolwork in the same place all day, every day can get boring. So we try to get outside for some of the lessons when the weather allows. Science is the perfect subject to allow for some outdoor exploration, but you can also use things you find outside for Math (counting, sorting, patterns, adding), Art (drawing, shapes), Language Arts (creating a story, letters: t is for tree, etc.) and more. Get creative and get your kids outside. It always recharges us and puts everyone in a good mood.

8.) Give yourself and your children grace.
This is quite possibly the most important. If you suddenly found yourself schooling your children when you didn't plan on it, I KNOW it can be overwhelming. But give yourself grace. Remind yourself that you are doing everything you can for your children and trying your absolute best without any specific training in this area. Cut yourself some slack. As for your children, this time is very different for them as well. Give them grace when things don't go as you planned. We are all in this together and we all need a little bit more love and grace.

9.) Reach out.
When all else fails, if you need some extra encouragement, reach out to me. I'm happy to offer any encouragement, advice and smiles that I can! The easiest way to contact me is to find me on instagram and send me a DM. Here is a link to my instagram account. I'd love to hear from you!


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