The New Year is here, and new restrictions and online/virtual school are back in multiple provinces in Canada.
Here in B.C., the return for most K-12 students has been delayed by a week, with only students whose parents are healthcare workers, and those who have support needs allowed back in classrooms this week. And even though we are scheduled to return on Jan 10th, online/virtual school may be in our future if we experience teacher/school staff shortages due to illness in the upcoming weeks.
It feels a bit like deja vu, as our kids did homeschooling for a year, and they had just returned to in-person school last September.
I have put together some helpful tips to help you prepare and survive online/virtual school with the kids. These were beneficial as we navigated online/home school with the boys at home last year.
Tips to Help You and Your Kids Survive Online/Virtual School
- Set Up a Specific Learning Space at Home: Find a quiet spot at home to set up as a dedicated learning place. Ensure the space is comfortable and that they have access to all the tools and materials needed for school. For example, you can set up there if you have a home office or study with a desk and a computer. Still, if you don’t have the space, the kitchen counter or dining room table can also become a dedicated spot if you remove distractions and have materials easily accessible.
- Establish Rules and Schedules: Help children stay organized and understand when school is happening every day. Setting up specific rules and schedules will make transitions easier and help them stay on task when working on school work. For example, when doing homeschooling last year, we set up two hours a day for books/school work and the rest of the time for reading, hands-on experiments, etc.
- Take Advantage of School Resources and Activities: If your school is offering online school options, ensure that your children log in daily to video chat with teachers, other classmates and to download worksheets and other resources. This is really helpful to know what the classroom is learning and what you should focus on at home.
- Use YouTube and Google to Help them Understand New Concepts: I found that, especially with math, reviewing new concepts was easier when watching YouTube videos that explained those concepts. There are so many wonderful videos online to help children learn new concepts. You can find them in all subjects, often with graphics and easy to follow steps. If you have any doubts or questions, don’t be afraid to Google and watch videos with explanations online, YouTube is a great resource.
- Watch Documentaries and Educational Shows: T.V. can help sometimes! Find documentaries or educational shows on topics kids are learning, and allow them to watch those shows. There are some wonderful educational shows available on the different streaming services, and they can be a great resource when learning something new.
- Maintain Social Connections: Help children continue to chat with classmates and school friends while at home. One thing my boys missed a lot when homeschooling was the social connection. Set up virtual play dates with friends, and help them continue those connections at home. This is very important for their mental health, and it will make the return to in-person class easier.
- Reward Good Behaviour: School at home is not easy for parents or children. We are all working hard to make it work, so don’t forget to reward and encourage positive behaviour.
And finally, try to make school at home fun when possible, and remember this is temporary. Kids will helpfully return to school full-time soon, which will be a memory for all.
Stay safe and healthy, friends!