School at home while you're social distancing: 6 tips for a positive experience

School at home1

Since Governor Herbert issued an order closing Utah schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many parents are finding themselves in a new role of having to facilitate their child’s education at home. Here are 6 tips to help you follow through.

Set reasonable expectations

You officially have permission to make this situation work for you and not the other way around. While you still have to get most of your normal work done during the day, accept that your productivity will decrease and that school-at-home won’t be like regular school. Choose a handful of goals and define achievable success for your family.

Establish your new routine

Kids thrive on routine and while there’ll be an adjustment period, kids will feel safe and secure when they have a predictable program to rely on in the middle of so much change. Make a routine that works for you and your kids. Do you need to work during normal school hours? Then do school early in the morning or late at night. Utilize weekends and other odd times if it works for you. Plan subjects that need your direct involvement for when you and your child both have the mental and emotional space to meet that next challenge.

Get out and move

Your kids have been cut off from many of their usual physical outlets. Plan for lots of movement and chances to get outside. Get in a walk every morning, run around the yard with a ball, or make snow angels a part of school. Children can only focus for one minute for every year of age, so if math takes 15 minutes for a seven-year-old, at the seven-minute mark have that child get the mail, make their bed, or do a little wiggle dance. You’ll be shocked how quickly a brain break will nip meltdowns in the bud.

Snacks, snacks, snacks

Keep healthy snacks on hand. Prep a snack tray with healthy snacks in the morning to avoid carb and sugar overloading. With this new adjustment for everyone, clear boundaries on what food is okay and which is for another time will help avoid conflict, candy-binging, and depletion of the stockpile of popcorn you’ve saved for movie nights. A good balance of protein, fats, and carbs are what a solid snack is all about.

Hack the internet

Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or out of your depth, let the internet help. Podcasts, audiobooks, documentaries, educational cartoons, music, library apps, and games can all be wonderful teachers for children. Many online educational programs are offering free subscriptions right now. Highly inquisitive kids need opportunities to answer their own questions; now might be the perfect time to teach them to safely use Google. Snuggle up next to your kiddo and work in tandem while they explore different subjects on YouTube. 

Remember the bigger picture

Normal life will eventually resume and the school-from-home experience will have produced different results for everyone. That’s okay. What your family chooses to do doesn’t have to look like any other family’s choice. Take care of your and your child’s emotional needs. Take a break in your day as fears or anxieties arise; an emotionally compromised child won’t be able to learn and a frazzled parent won’t be able to teach. 

Give everyone an extra dose of grace. Turn off the news. Breathe.
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