Surviving Virtual Learning

I realize that some of you have been surviving virtual learning for months now. If you’re reading this and consider yourself an e-learning pro, please be sure to comment with your tips below as I’m sure many of us could use the advice.

When schools closed in early March last year in Connecticut, I remember feeling so lost when talking to the parents. No matter how many Zooms I offered each week or how my teammates and I adapted the work in an attempt to make it ‘fun’, it didn’t seem like enough. Parents were drowning, frustrated, and feeling defeated. I sat back and watched in awe as my students somehow managed to blossom despite being out of the classroom for months. This was because parents became teachers and did a freaking incredible job. (Although I’ve found few parents who are actually aware of what a tremendous job they did.)

I can’t tell you how many mothers still tell me what a ‘bad job’ they did in the spring. It really shocks me that this is the feeling. Parents, you were the real rockstars of the the pandemic. I wish you could see that. The proof is in your children who continue to flourish.

Since I get asked this often, here are my tips for surviving virtual learning:

1. Get Dressed

As simple as it sounds, it makes all the difference. Getting up and getting dressed in typical clothes really helps set the tone for the day.

2. Eat Breakfast and Hydrate

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t imagine functioning without breakfast. I usually have a smoothie loaded with veggies to kickstart my morning. Make sure your kiddo has a bottle of water near his screen to help stay hydrated throughout the day.

3. Plan Something Fun After School

I know this may seem a little bit silly as most activities are canceled and it’s now freezing outside. But, planning something to look forward to is always a great strategy to get through the day. As a teacher, I hear it all. Activities as simple as making a batch of cookies are enough to get your kiddos giddy with excitement.

4. Sharpen Your Pencils

Having materials organized in advance can help the day run smoothly. Some teachers will provide a list or post a video showing the materials needed for the day. Gathering these things in advance can help make your child more independent during the day. Having materials nearby like pencils, erasers, scissors, crayons, a whiteboard, and dry-erase marker can make the day run smoothly.

5. Mom and Dad, Please Go Away (I mean that in the nicest way possible!)

Whenever a kid falls on the playground the first words out of their mouth are usually, “I want my mom! (or dad)” Moms and Dads, you are the absolute heroes in your child’s eyes. A few years ago, I had a child tell me with such conviction, “My dad knows everything. He is the smartest person ever born. He knows everything.” It was an absolutely adorable moment. It’s pretty cool how young kiddos idolize their parents.

When it comes to digital learning, you are the first one they yell for when they can’t find their pencil or the worksheet they need. For your own sanity and your child’s independence, please try to be in another room during the school day. I want to administer a personal apology anytime I see a mother enter the room, out of breathe from running around the house to find aforementioned pencil or worksheet.

If there is one thing I’ve learned this year, schooling ain’t easy. It is certainly not something you can simply pack-up and do form anywhere. It took a pandemic for many of us (myself included) to realize how vital our classroom spaces are. But, we will get through this and appreciate busy moments in our physical classrooms even more in 2021.

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