5 Tips for Virtual Learning This School Year


Little distance learning school on the prairie

I work four jobs, plus freelancing, for a total workload of 40+ hours a week. I have two boys, one in 1st Grade and one in Kindergarten this school year. One of my boys is non-typical and has an IEP, also known as an Individualized Education Plan. We are all working and learning from home together right now and after our first few days of full-day online learning, I have some tips to share.

Before we started school I was anxious about how it would all look, and how I would manage multiple daily schedules (my own included) but I can say that now, being on the other side – I’m confident we can do this.

Here are my tips for a successful start to distance learning:

1. Wake up early before your kids and get some time to yourself. Workout, do emails, tackle a work project. I feel so much better when I have a jump on the day before my kids come at me, haha. I set my alarm for 4:30 am and head directly for my single-cup coffee maker. We start school at 7:45 am so I transition into mom-mode at 6:45 am to make breakfast and get myself and everyone dressed for the day.

2. Log into all the learning systems ahead of time and save logins and passwords. Scrambling to log into everything and not having the passwords handy is frustrating. Our school is using one app to record attendance and another for distance learning, so we toggle between the two. Some of the apps might require you to download or register in advance so plan to do that the night before school starts and make sure you have the kinks worked out.

3. Set up a workspace for your kid that’s theirs for the foreseeable future. Ours aren’t fancy. We have one kid on a folding table and one at a play table. But, it helps so much to have all their paperwork and school supplies in one spot. I made of list of some of our favorite school supplies you can check out here.

4. Get a kitchen timer or set a bunch of alarms on your phone. This will help you remember when recess or lunch is over and they need to come back to their workspace. One thing I’ve noticed is that online learning is super-efficient. Our school is keeping us to the same bell schedule, but since there is no cleanup/pack-up or walking to the next subject they usually have little breaks to stretch or go to the bathroom or grab a snack.

5. Have a schedule handy. I printed out our bell schedule and their class schedules and taped them to the door. That way I know what subject is next. Even though their instructors will tell them what’s coming up they will still forget and ask you approximately 1,376 times what’s next, how much longer, when is lunch/recess…

Give yourself lots of grace.

The schools and teachers are being really patient as we all navigate this new format. I cannot imagine how many hours of work our educators have invested in setting up our virtual start to the school year.

Now that I see what online learning looks like and how our days flow – I’m ok with it. Once they are logged on and have their materials ready I have time to get my own work done. Conference calls are the hardest for me. Having 2 kids logged on, with an ear for them while also listening to multiple voices on my own call is challenging, but we’ll make it work!

I think the most important thing is to stay positive – this is not what any of us are used to, but it’s our reality right now. I try to stay optimistic and enthusiastic about our situation because I want my boys to enjoy learning. Not every day will be rainbows and sprinkles, but since we can’t control much about our situations we can at least control how we react and what our attitude is.

Sending you all positive vibes for a great start to the school year, we can do it!