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Help for the Virtual Learner

Trying to balance a career, multiple children, a dodgy internet connection, and assignments from 5+ teachers would make even Supermom weak in the knees. While I can't solve all of those issues, hopefully a few of these tips can alleviate at least a little bit of stress in your already jam-packed day.

Develop a Schedule

With all the Zoom/GoogleChat/Canvas meetings that your children have, if you don't have a schedule you'll be lost by the 2nd week! So, grab a great planner (I love this one or this one), a few cute gel pens (because why the heck not?!), and let's get started.

Start by scheduling the mandatory web meetings for each kid (I choose a different color for each kid to make it easier). Next, schedule in breaks. Yes, you read that right. The current school climate is a lot for children. It's new, different, and really, really lonely. They need breaks, and friend, so do you. Give yourself a lot of grace. Give your kids a lot of grace. Really, can we just all throw grace around like confetti for a bit?! I think we'll all be better for it!

Let's talk FOOD! Think about what time you'd like to do lunch, plan for snacks (because they're going to eat alllll the time!), utilize "click list" for groceries (what a life-saver!), and look into a meal plan for dinner (here is a free template).

And finally, get outside! Whether it's organized sports, or a quick trip to the park, planning a time for fresh air is imperative. Releasing some steam and amping up those endorphins will rejuvenate your child, and it might make YOU feel better as well!

Create a "School Space"

I've been teaching my kids from home for over seven years now and we've held school everywhere from the kitchen table to a local park. For the virtual learner though, you should consider investing in a designated space for them to call their own. It doesn't have to be fancy, just a desk or table with good internet connection and comfortable seating that is relatively quiet (I have multiple kids, so I can laugh at that last part!). Try to reduce distractions like the TV, other tablets/devices and phones, too, and make sure that they have all the supplies they need to complete their work.

Nourish Existing Friendships

I think this might be the MOST important tip that I can share. School looks so different this year for the majority of our children. Parents are stressed, our kids are stressed, everything is new...and let's be honest, they're probably really lonely. The good news is, kids are resilient (I can personally attest to that as we are a military family!). But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do everything in our power to help nourish existing friendships and perhaps even cultivate new ones. Whether it's via Zoom or Messenger Kids, or even a good old fashioned park date (socially distanced if you so choose), let your kids talk, play and create with their friends. Set up phone dates, have them video themselves doing something fun to send to their bestie, or even allow them to play Battleship over FaceTime. Whatever it is, try to let them guide it. I think you'll be surprised by how innovative they can be!

Ask for Help

The bottom line is that this "virtual learning" thing is new to the majority of families. It's okay to not know the answer to every question, or to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of being responsible for allll the things. Ask for help when you need it, no one will judge you...they're all in the same boat! Take a poll of your friends to see what is working for them during this time, check out Facebook Groups to see what kind of help being offered in your community, or ask your local library if they have a homeschool room set up that might be a change of scenery for your child. There are a plethora of online sources that offer supplementation, review and help for free or for a very low cost. Utilize your options, and don't forget to reach out to your child's teacher if they're struggling with assignments.

You CAN do this, my friend. And you can do it in a way that you can see your children thrive instead of just surviving. Joy can be found in the midst of the hardest circumstances...don't forget that! I believe in you.



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