Whether or not you are planning for your child to return to school in person in the fall, odds are, some of your student’s normal activities will still be remote. If you haven’t already converted your spare bedroom or an empty corner of your home into a makeshift classroom, we have gathered some of our favorite ideas for ‘do it yourself’ learning environments to inspire you.
For students accustomed to a classroom setting, it can be difficult to separate time for work from time for relaxation and play when spending the whole day at home. Recreating a traditional classroom setting, or adapting your child’s lesson plans to the circumstances, is likely to help them with their learning and you with your responsibilities as an interim substitute teacher. If you are worried about the quality and regularity of your child’s education this coming school year, we recommend trying out the following tips to help them, and yourself, adapt to these strange times.
1. Designate a Work Space
If you have a home office or commute to work, you probably know how difficult it can be to be productive anywhere else. Believe it or not, it is the same for kids. At home, there are all kinds of distractions. Snacks, pets, sounds, siblings, and even you being around are all things children aren’t used to having during the school day. Choosing a space in your home and designating it as your child’s work space will help them focus on their assignments instead of everything else surrounding them. If your child is comfortable working at the kitchen table, that’s great! But, other kids may need more structure. Making use of the space you have, your child may benefit from recreating aspects of the classroom environment they are familiar with. This may mean a space with windows and natural light, their school supplies, and even typical classroom decorations. These things may help your child feel more calm and comfortable in a period of high stress. We love these home spaces that parents and teachers creatively turned into school rooms!Check out these instagrams for some inspiration!
2. Designate Time for Working and Time for Breaks
More than ever, it is important to follow a routine. The nice thing about being at home is that your day can revolve around your schedule, instead of the other way around. But that doesn’t mean that your child should do whatever they want, whenever they want! Just like at school, it may benefit your child to designate different times for different subjects, meals, outdoor breaks, and rest! Although you might have to tailor this plan around your student’s teacher’s schedule, establishing a comfortable routine can be helpful to create a sense of control, predictability and autonomy.
3. Consider Offering Rewards
Most parents normally don’t give their children rewards for doing their schoolwork, but to be fair, this situation isn’t exactly normal. Because kids working from home may be missing out on some of the usual rewards that their teacher has to offer, like treasure boxes, field trips, and group play, you may want to offer some of these incentives yourself! Consider giving your child one small incentive each day for a job well done, such as an extra 15 minutes of screen time, a trip to the ice cream shop, or some spending money to put towards a new toy. While a lot of kids enjoy school and learning, a lot of other children have a hard time finding motivation and focus. With school and after school activities now online, this difficulty may be increased. Offering small motivations for a successful day at school may inspire your child to take initiative to get their work done.
4. Adapt to Limit Electronics Use
With life as we know it shifting online, controlling your child’s screen time is easier said than done. But, too much time in front of phones and computers can have long lasting and detrimental effects on your child’s health. In addition to damaging eyesight and sleep patterns, too much screen time may also lead to problems with behavior, education, and weight. To combat this, we recommend supplementing your child’s curriculum with books, field trips, and projects. It might seem old fashioned nowadays to pull out textbooks, paper, and pencils, but the generations before you can tell you that this method is tried and true! As much as possible, consider allowing life skills and practical lessons to be a part of your child’s syllabus this year. Now is a great time to pursue passion projects and hobbies. If your child wants to learn to cook or bake, make that part of their math and chemistry lessons! Does your child like comic books? Those can be a nice supplement to art and reading! Learning this year is all about flexibility, and this semester serves as a great reminder of how much learning can occur outside of the classroom.
5. Encourage Kids to Stay Connected w/ Classmates via. Zoom
If your child’s school is online, one thing that might not be easily replicated is the friendships and bonds they would form with other classmates and teammates. However, it is still important for kids to feel connected with the students in their grade (and their teacher)! We love these ideas for virtual playdates that will help your child experience friendship and fun while staying home. You can also take this offline! If other parents are comfortable exchanging home addresses, your child can become pen pals with his or her teacher and classmate. Children will love sharing photos of pets and siblings, making postcards from their staycation, and even telling secrets and stories to one another through the mail.