This week was our first full remote learning school week. Our district has decided to phase into in-person learning, meaning each week we add a day of genuine, real, in-school education. I am not going to debate the merits of remote vs in-person because I am not an expert…everyone’s children adapt differently. I will, however, share top tips for remote learning that I discovered this week with my 1st grader and 3rd grader.
Start the Day with Music
I have heard many moms tout the merits of a dance party. Well, sometimes my kids don’t want to dance and I am not going to blow sunshine at them if they aren’t in the mood. I simply created a “Happy” playlist, put it on in the morning, and went about my business bopping to the beat. Older kids seem to prefer to make decisions on their own, and if you don’t tell them that they HAVE to have a dance party, they might just bop to the beat with you. Or they might full-on breakdance and raise the roof. Either way, your job is to give them the tools, their job is to use them in whatever way works.
Here is my “Happy” playlist on Spotify. It is a mixture of Pop, Motown, Dance, Movie Tunes, and light Rock, feel free to use it or create your own. I personally refuse to put “kid” songs on my playlists. KidsBop is fine, but not something I want to listen to on repeat. Things have to make YOU joyful as well, not annoy the crap out of you.
In the mornings, my kids have a tough time staying on task. I would ask them 3, 4, 5+ times to brush their teeth. I would ask them repeatedly to get dressed. It put me in a bad mood, and it put them in a “why does my mom nag me” mindset.
I finally wised up and created printed task checklists for them each morning. They included the major things my kids needed to do before school started. No more nagging, they magically completed each task and checked it off. This is one of my tips for remote learning that I adopted myself- I created my own daily checklist so the kids could see that this habit is a healthy one to continue.
I also included a sticker chart for the successful completion of a remote learning day. One of our local ice cream parlors created this, and after 8 complete days of remote learning, kids get to bring their completed checklist in and get a scoop of ice cream with goodies on it. Brilliant.
Anxiety Relief Tools
I have to totally different kids. One has high anxiety, the other just gets “bored” all of the time. One is a more advanced learner and needs additional work to be challenged, the other has a tough time focusing, staying motivated, and keeping up. I realized that both of my kids, though, have a tough time sitting for long periods and staring at a screen. They need things to do with their hands.
Remember fidget spinners? Initially used to assist kids with anxiety or ADHD symptoms, these tiny spinning tools quickly became toys that snuck into most classrooms to the annoyance of teachers. Well, it is time to bring them back. I purchased squishy stress balls on a whim during my trip to the Dollar Store and did they ever come in handy. I also bought gum for my kids, letting them chew with the caveat that they cannot smack their gum on Zoom. I personally chew gum in therapy appointments because it helps me focus and calm myself. Try various items out. A friend of mine made a good point- see what brings kids into learning and what pulls them out.
Other sensory items that might help your kids include: Silly Putty or Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, a smooth rock, reversible sequin items, play foam, sensory bracelets and rings, or stretchy mice and cheese.
Alternative Learning Spots
I set up a desk and chair for each of my kids. They are able to sit for about 30 minutes, then slide off the chair, roll onto the ground, or start to wander. I quickly realized that I needed to create some alternative learning spaces for my kids to give them a little variety throughout the day. I have lap desks that I use for long car rides and brought these into the house. The kids can sit on the couch or lean up against the wall while sitting on the floor but still have a solid surface to rest their iPads upon.
If you are leaning your child’s iPad on a coffee mug or similar and it keeps slipping (*guilty*), invest a small amount of money in an iPad stand. You can also DIY an iPad stand with a picture frame holder or even an egg carton.
Also, devices get extremely dirty. Between snack breaks (hello, Cheeto Hands) and bathroom breaks, kids digits get grubby. According to Apple, you can use a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipe to disinfect your device. Here is all the research I did and a few ways to keep your items clean.
If you are just as nervous about socialization for your children as I am, you are in good company. Most parents are concerned about their children’s social and emotional growth and are concerned about the effects that full remote learning will have upon our kids.
I try to help my children meet up with other kids as much as possible. We live directly behind our elementary school, so during lunchtimes, we head to the playground. After school, we hang out there as well. Usually, they will know a friend or two and chat. It completely fills their bucket to interact in person with kids their age that are NOT their siblings.
If you are concerned about social distancing, they can schedule a bike riding meetup, do sidewalk chalk art near each other or kick a ball to each other. The point isn’t about contact, it is about connection.
All About the Attitude
This is probably one of my favorite tips for remote learning, and it involves ATTITUDE! Your kids will pick up on your attitude- whether you are optimistic, hopeful, negative, or annoyed, they can subconsciously adopt your outlook.
If you complain about eLearning, how are they supposed to get excited about it? If you are enthusiastic and positive they are more likely to follow suit. This is the reality, so please make the most of it and look at the upside. Let them do things they aren’t allowed to do in school. Fill your house with positive messages and sounds. Light a fall-scented candle. Open the blinds and let the sun shine in.
Cheers to sharing tips for remote learning with each other, and supporting our kids in whatever ways we can!
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