Our Distance Learning Experience

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We’ve been doing Distance Learning since the beginning of the school year with our 2 boys, grades 1st and 5th. I work remotely and my husband’s schedule in the fall and winter is pretty flexible, so we were in a position that this was an option for us. We realize that every family has a different situation and not everyone was able to choose this option on their own. However, this decision has now been made for us – everyone is switching to Distance Learning next week.

So, we’re all going to be spending a lot of time with our kiddos over the next couple of months. We’re all going to be learning together, struggling together, crying together, and hopefully laughing together! All of us are trying to juggle all the things – work, school, family, friends, finances, health – and there are going to be days when we drop all the balls. And that’s ok!

We are about 3 months into our Distance Learning adventures, and let me tell you, I’ve learned A LOT! So I thought I would share some tidbits from our experience over the last 3 months, to help you prepare for your own Distance Learning adventures!

The first thing I did to prepare for learning at home this fall was to create a space for everyone to learn and work. I turned our dining room into a makeshift classroom with spots to keep books, filing bins for papers and workbooks, an art cart for art supplies, and old mason jars and vases became holders for pencils and crayons. It doesn’t matter how much space you have or how pretty you make it look – the important thing is that all of the supplies and anything they might need during the day is handy and accessible. Trust me, running around the house during your child’s live

 

Google meet trying to find their workbook or the specific color of marker they need is NOT fun.

We all sit at the dining room table and work together. At first, we were all working independently, in our own spaces. I was in my home office upstairs, my 5th grader was at a desk in his bedroom, and my 1st grader was down in the dining room/classroom.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was not going to work for our family! I was constantly having to go up and down the stairs to help my 1st grader, and would then get distracted by something I saw in the kitchen, or a pile of laundry on the floor, or something else. My 5th grader was way too secluded in his bedroom by himself and we started to have some issues with trust, not completing assignments, and just generally messing around. Now we all sit together at the dining table. I bring my laptop down and any other papers or files I need for the day and we all work alongside each other.

That leads me to my next suggestion – invest in some headphones for your kids! Trust me on this one. At first, getting to listen in on your kids’ meetings and lessons is kind of cute. But after a few, it gets old! If you are all in the same space or near each other, you will want your kids to have headphones on so that everyone isn’t hearing what everyone else is doing!

Timers have become my best friend! Teach your kids how to set timers using the microwave, an alarm clock, or a smart home device. My boys set their own timers for reading, for breaks, and for reminders for small group meetings. It is a great lesson to teach kids how to be responsible for their own time, and frees up some headspace for you since you don’t have to be the master timekeeper for everyone!

My last tip is a tough one. When we first started Distance Learning, I was so interested in everything my kids were doing. It was fun to see what video they were watching, what they were writing, looking at their cute little drawings, and hearing them answer questions in an online meeting. While all of this is fun and cute, we have to remember that our kids are still in school.

If they were actually at school we wouldn’t get to hear them interact with other students, watch them work, or any of these things. While it’s important for us to be engaged and available should they need help with something, it’s also important that they are working independently, problem-solving on their own, and feel confident to take on the day’s tasks on their own!

Wherever your kids are heading to learn, whatever your situation looks like, just remember that we are all in this together! Reach out to your friends, your neighbors, your Teachers, and vent or get advice when needed! Involve your kiddos and let them be a part of the process, and have fun with it!

Having this unique opportunity to be so involved with our kids learning, to get a glimpse into their cute little days, to snuggle up on the couch for reading time, or to help them work through a math problem are such blessings! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Distance Learning has been a piece of cake!

But, I do think that someday, when all of this is over and we are back to “normal” I will miss having my little work buddies sitting at the table with me.

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Growing up in a family of 5 girls, Rachel had never pictured herself as a “Boy Mom”, but now that she is one, she loves it! Her oldest son, Paul is almost 8, and he loves reading, writing stories, Legos, and Tae Kwon Do! William is 4, and he is into sports, Batman, trucks, and is obsessed with donuts! Rachel met her husband, Chris, when they were in 9th and 10th grade at Mankato West High School, and they’ve been together ever since! After High School they lived in Minneapolis for 7 years, but always knew that they would move back to this great community when they were ready to start their family! Rachel works for a local non-profit focused on solving youth hunger, which is something she is very passionate about! She is also an Interior Designer, and works part time at a local clothing boutique! She loves volunteering at her son’s school, and is also the President of the PTA! Some things that keep Rachel happy & sane are early morning fitness classes at the Y, running, a glass of wine with friends or family, shopping, coffee, and getaways with her hubby.