There is nothing better than getting great advice from those who know it best and are in the trenches with you…the mom village! This time around, moms who opted for the virtual/digital option this year due to COVID-19 share their virtual tricks and tips on how to navigating the waters of at-home learning.
MOM OF 4
- The girls each have their own space with their Chromebooks and headphones
- Headphones are great especially with multiple children to help reduce distraction.
- I have bulletin boards for important daily info (ie schedules, materials needed etc.)
- All their folders, pencil boxes etc. are together. I put their folders in order that they will need them to make it easier to grab during class.
- They get up early enough to eat and have some play time before school starts.
- Outside/snack during morning break and lunch hour.
- We are SO lucky to have amazing teachers that communicate so well, but it’s definitely important and helpful to stay in contact with them also.
- Biggest thing is giving ourselves, our teachers and our kids GRACE!! Tough for all of us, but remember IT’S ONLY TEMPORARY!
MOM OF 2
“My middle schooler is all hyflex in the Lyceum program and it’s fairing well. A lot more screen time since it’s hyflex but she’s a trooper and holding her own. She’s also figured out some computer tricks/shortcuts to make her life easier. She’s established a FaceTime ‘lunch bunch’ with a few of her friends to help keep connected.”
MOM OF 2
My favorite question these days is, “Is there anything I can do to support you?” I also think it’s important to remember the virtual teachers… appreciation emails and online gift cards. The first semester with Zoe, I micromanaged…things were way better once she planned her week and controlled her schedule without interference from me. We are making the best out of a crappy situation. Having their favorite snacks on hand helps too.
MOM OF 2
- Having a space dedicated for them, with passwords written down, bookmarked pages for email, portal/canvas, reflex math and others.
- I think joining a facebook group for digital parents is helpful. This allows you to post to the exact parents you need to reach if you don’t already have a couple people you know doing digital. I think joining likewise digital parents either within your circle in a group chat or in a facebook group is key.
- I think having grace for your teachers, for you children, and for yourself is a big deal right now. If you and/or your child is struggling, it probably isn’t just you. And your teachers are likely facing issues all the same.
- I emailed several of our teachers to thank them for allowing us to have this choice and if they need anything to reach out. I have offered coffee to them, there’s no tips and tricks to this.
- To remember why you choose digital, and realize if it isn’t for you in the end… that that is ok too.
MOM OF 2
“I made sure they had proper work stations before virtual school started so they both got new desks instead of sharing space with me in the kitchen. I usually ask them Sunday nights to check their emails for the week’s zoom links and encourage them to log on a little early. Every start to the year I meet with both of their teachers then it’s pretty much no news is good news approach. And.. more snacks!”
MOM OF 1
“She and a friend quickly discovered the ‘chat feature’ in ZOOM. What they might not have the chat is public to the whole class and teacher. Luckily, her friend was only saying she was excited they were in the same class. Tip to parents with kids on ZOOM: remind them that it’s not that different from sending a text – once it’s out there; it’s out there. This is not only true for the chat feature but also the mute audio feature.”
MOM OF 2
It’s a strange thing to allow others inside your home virtually. I am constantly trying to make sure things are clean “enough” and bathroom doors get closed! The kids are using headphones so all we hear are random words being shouted out at various times. It can be frightening when it’s mostly quiet. They never know how loud they are. The teachers sometimes call mom/dad into the zoom call when you’re not dressed yet. We have been dealing with multiple schedules and kids eating at 10:30 am. We are also using a whiteboard/calendar to help keep things straight.
MOM OF 2
Luckily, I have a lot of room in my house, so I have set up each kid in a different room with their laptops. Carson (7th grade) is in the dining room, and Kendall (9th grade) is in the dinette. They each have a laptop and headphones that plug in to the computer – I didn’t want to risk the headphones running out of power during the middle of a zoom class.
We got them a binder for each of their classes as if they were in brick and mortar school, even though not all of the teachers required it. We also got them each a tall rolling organizer that they could put their paper, pencils, pens, erasures, etc. – kind of like a rolling backpack. The organizer is next to them when they are “in school” so they have easy access at all times to everything they need for school.
I have also been monitoring their assignments that are due to make sure everything is being turned in (for some reason there have been some assignments I KNOW were turned in, but it is showing as missing in Canvas), and trying to stay in more regular contact with their teachers than I used to pre-pandemic.
MOM OF 2
- We work at the kitchen table and dining room table, but we have a place nearby where all their stuff goes at the end of the day. And they are responsible for cleaning up their work area.
- Good headphones!
- Alarms! I set a 5 minute warning alarm before he needs to log into his zoom class.
- I prep lunches first thing in the morning, so I have time to eat and get chores done during lunchtime.
Laura DePaz Cabrera
MOM OF 2
I’ll start by saying that I don’t think all kids in all situations will thrive in e-school. Kids who are naturally independent and self-sufficient will do well, or kids who are ‘decently’ independent and somewhat self-sufficient can also
succeed, but they will need more parent involvement. For us, what has really helped is the following:
1. GET TO KNOW THE SYSTEM. It isn’t immediately ‘user friendly’ but your child will have an account and you will have your own ‘parent’ account where you can see everything your child can see and track progress. Once you learn to navigate the system, it makes figuring out what to do, when and how to track progress SO much easier.
2. All of our e-school teachers had initial “getting started” modules that were required. They were very detailed in explaining how e-school works, how the website will be used for that particular class, and other class-specific logistics. I went through these with my child as he was going through them so I could gain the insight. A lot of need-to-know info was in those presentations and makes moving forward a LOT easier.
3. PACE CHARTS! At first I had no idea what a pace chart was and getting the first one set up was a bit challenging but once we figured it out, it was great. A Pace Chart serves as a guide to what you should aim to complete and when in order to stay ‘on track’. We have a color-coded pace chart for each class and once or twice a week we’ll sit together to map out what classes he will focus on and when. Then we are able to use the chart to ‘check things off’ as he goes through the materials.
4. One of the beauties of e-school is that you DO NOT have to ‘attend’ every class, every day. My son loves math and science so we will leave those for days where we might either be short on time or want to get done early (or I need to be more involved in work and can’t be as available to help with questions). Then, for other subjects, he’ll do those on days where he has more time to focus on getting it done. There is a lot of flexibility involved, which, if managed properly, is very helpful.
5. Accept the fact that parent involvement is required. In my experience, this involvement has been in one of two main ways – A) navigating the website/technical issues (which, having watched the getting started modules and played around with my parent access, I feel comfortable with) or Classwork specific assistance. The technical questions have gone down considerably since he’s been on the platform more frequently. With classwork specific questions, we try to limit them into specific time frames. So instead of him calling me into his room every 10 minutes, I tell him to write them down and a few times a day I’ll take a break to go work through them with him. This helps me be able to keep working and also challenges him to try and figure it out on his own before he comes to me for help. I’ve found that if I’m constantly available, he won’t make the effort to try and figure it out – so limiting my availability has helped.
Use these virtual tricks and tips from local moms to help navigate at home learning in your own home! We are all in this together!