What a stressful time for families and students. And now that most schools are going virtual, you are really wondering how you will be able to juggle your paid job, household responsibilities and the expectations of being your child’s new TEACHER! Even though teaching may not be in your wheelhouse, we have confidence that you can do this, with a little bit of help.
First, get your child in the mood to learn. Make sure he/she gets up at the same time each day, gets dressed, eats breakfast, and is ready to follow a learning schedule. You know how chill you feel if you get to lounge around all day in your pajamas and decide what you want to do? Without setting expectations, most children will choose screen time and Cheetos over math and science.
Secondly, at breakfast or shortly after, go over a visual learning schedule with your child. For younger learners, this could be a picture schedule and for older kids a written list. Have them check off tasks as they finish. This will help them to move to the next item on the list, and hopefully they won’t need 100 reminders from you to “get going.”
Teach them technology. If you have to show them forty million times a day how to click into Google Classroom or Zoom, you will go mad! Write out instructions and have them practice. Set reminder alarms on their phone or another device that will cue them when to click into a virtual classroom. The higher level of their independence, the more time you have to get other things done.
Kids need to be active. Schedule brain and body breaks throughout the day. You have my permission to let your child play outside during the “school day.” They need time to exercise their body so they can focus. This is particularly true if you have a child who has trouble sitting still for more than 10 minutes while doing school work.
Adjust your expectations. Do not expect that your student will be doing virtual school work for seven hours a day, like he/she did in a brick and mortar school. Remember that part of the “normal” school day is socializing with friends, having recess and lunch, and talking with friends in the halls when walking from class to class. Schedule Zoom lunches with peers, FaceTime walks with friends and after school virtual extracurricular activities with kids your student hangs out with. A huge part of education is learning social skills and being a part of a group. Because of social distancing, we need to be creative to keep our kids connected with each other.
Take a deep breath. If you are still an apprehensive teacher, there are resources out there to help you! Miriam Learning Center can send a certified teacher to your location to provide direct instruction to your student. Or, we can provide a bachelor’s level teacher’s assistant to help your student focus, stay on task and transition from one virtual activity to another. Need other services such as occupational or speech/language therapy, tutoring, or counseling? Your student can come to one of our centers (Webster Groves or Olivette), we can provide virtual instruction via Zoom, or send a therapist to your location.
Still don’t think you can make it work? Check out our day schools offering in-person instruction this fall, including our integrated therapies.