Normally we’d be talking about going back to school with a frenzy of finding all of the school supplies, opening new notebooks, and putting together the best first day of school outfit, but in this time of uncertainty, we might be doing a number of different things.
Some of you are opting to go back to school, whereas some of you are pursuing online education. If you’re living through zoom, here are some ideas to keep your kids engaged at school while creating that virtual classroom.
1. Add in some movement! It’s hard to sit down for so long! I know I even have trouble during my 8 hour workday. There’s something to be said about taking a five minute breather and doing some jumping jacks or running around the room. I always come back to my desk energized and ready to keep working, the same can be said about your kids. During a recess or a bathroom break, tell your kids to run once around the house, try to do 10 pushups, or have a silly dance party! Turn on some music and make it fun, and if you’re working too, maybe you can coordinate your dance party for 5 minutes, even one minute would work!
2. Have a mini whiteboard or chalkboard next to your child’s computer session so they can take notes and feel like a mini teacher. It’s fun to write on something different, and you can give them different colored pens or chalk for different subjects, anything to switch it up!
3. Help your child build a schedule. Your teacher might send out a schedule, or you can even ask for it, and then, print it out and maybe code it with colors for each subject. It will help your student have more of a sense of what is expected from them during the day, rather than just an 8 hour meeting.
4. Set up a designated workspace. If you have the room, make it just for your child, they should feel like they have their own space, like how they have their desk at the room. Help them to feel organized with the desk so they can better focus on their zoom call. You might want to add some personal touches like a frame of their last class picture, or a poster with all their favorite books near them on the wall, so they feel more like they’re in the classroom than at home.
5. Try to limit the use of distractions. Make sure your child can only use their laptop for the zoom call, if they have their phone or ipad near them they might surf the web to fight boredom. It’s also important to not have any toys near them that might distract them.
6. Provide Positive Feedback. Your kids aren’t getting the encouragement they once got from their teachers (teachers can no longer walk around and look at their work). Make sure your kids know that they’re doing a good job, showing up and working hard on their zoom calls, and maybe making a reward system might help in these weird times with maintaining motivation. As an example, you could grab stickers and put them on good assignments and your kids could get 15 extra minutes to play outside after their homework is done.
7. Find Flexibility. Life is a lot more challenging during the pandemic. Find times to check in on your students. They’ll all excel and have harder times on differing subjects, try to take that extra time after work to help them.
8. Help Kids Stay In Touch with Friends. It’s hard to zoom for eight hours for school and then zoom again with friends, but create an activity for your kids and their friends. You could play Pictionary with the whiteboard feature on zoom. Play Heads Up, 2 Truths and a Lie, or a Trivia Game to keep engaged with their friends.
9. Use Resources. The Library is there to help you! Ask a librarian for the support you need, often they can help you with computer access as well. They also might have supplemental materials that would work well along with what the teacher is doing in class.
10. Reach out to your Student’s Teacher. They want your kids to succeed as much as you do, reach out to your student’s teacher to check in about how your student is doing during Zoom and what you can be doing to help them more!