As we say goodbye to this truly unforgettable summer, it is time to welcome another semester of online learning! If you or someone you know is determined to make this semester a little more productive than the last, this week’s Feel Good Friday is for you. Share these tips with any parent, teacher, or student… we are all in this together!
1. Organize, organize, organize
Considering all the chaos that unfolds daily in your home, order is your friend. “When a child’s physical surroundings are organized it enables them to do better work,” says Rachel Rosenthal, organizational expert and owner of Rachel and Company. “I believe that physical organization leads to mental organization, and that organization is a key component to ensuring virtual school is more productive in the fall than it was in the spring.”
Rosenthal suggests that parents can empower kids to create individualized and independent work spaces that are free of clutter and distraction, even if it’s not a separate room. Some of the most useful organizational tools to achieve this objective, she noted, include paper bins, cord keepers, shelves for notebooks and cups for loose markers and crayons.
She adds that parents should try not to micromanage an organizing job; instead she recommended that parents provide kids with the tools and the space to arrange things the way they see fit.
“Organization is a way of life and not a one-time event,” she says.
2. Post a schedule
One way to keep kids organized throughout the day: Posting a schedule so kids know what’s next! This is precisely what most teachers do, especially those who spend their days educating students under the age of 10.
For children who can’t read yet, it’s a good idea to use images or drawings to depict the lessons of the day. Math, for instance, might be represented by an abacus, while reading can be represented by a book.
3. Designate a learning area
A second option for helping virtual learners stay organized: building a new workspace entirely from scratch. For some parents, this might mean creating a nook or alcove in a spare bedroom.
For Sharon and Justin Florentine, parents of a 9-year-old in Abington, Pennsylvania, the answer was converting a free-standing shed in the backyard into a classroom.
When school is in session and virtual learning begins, Sharon Florentine says her son can either log on to Wi-Fi from the main house or connect via a hard-wired Ethernet port.
“(Our son) is way more comfortable with this approach,” she said, noting that he has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. “For the most part, he thrives at virtual/remote school, and when we told him there would be the option to do virtual school again this fall, he said, ‘Cool! I like that better anyway.'”
4. Communicate with teachers
“Kids are responsible, but parents can do a much better job of getting schoolwork information directly from teachers,” says Dr. Randy Kulman, author of “The Gaming Overload Workbook.” “This constant dialogue will eliminate confusion and help everyone succeed.”
If you are feeling overwhelmed, you need to let the teachers know.
5. Supplement the curriculum
Online classes. These extracurricular studies can be one-offs or multi-week explorations. Students can sign up through local two- and four-year colleges, or their families can pay to take courses from an online provider such as Outschool. This company touts more than 50,000 course options on its website, with choices including Harry Potter “potions” chemistry class and another on cat anatomy taught by a veterinarian.
6. Get outside
7. Create a family mission statement
Perhaps the best way to keep kids and parents focused on the goals of virtual learning for the fall is to create a mission statement for the entire family. A conversation about this statement begins with questions about the kinds of practices that are important to your family. What are some things your family wants to do more or less of?This sort of boilerplate helps families understand what to prioritize throughout the virtual learning experience and how to show up for each other, said Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman, chief innovation officer at BetterUp, a professional coaching platform based in San Francisco.