9 Tips: Preparing for Distance Learning and Homeschooling

Tips for Distance Learning, virtual learning, e-learning, home school, remote learning

Distance learning, virtual learning, remote learning, e-learning… so many new terms! More parents are having to home school than ever before! Preparing for distance learning and homeschooling is important…  be proactive (and preventative)!  Are you ready?

Surprising News

It was a quiet day in our household.  With my husband’s job position, we knew our district’s decision before it was announced to our community. 

He was saddened. 

Our daughter’s reaction was worse.  She’s starting her senior year…

Remotely.

She shared her frustrations and we listened.  Hugged and comforted her.  Empathized with her. 

Then, later that day, we had our pep talk! 

This learning situation is beyond our control and we simply have to roll along with what’s happening! There’s no BEST solution.

It’s temporary.  We’ll get through it!  We’re not alone.

More importantly, we’ll do our best to help those that really need it during these times.

I remember seeing a sign in my college dormitory with a saying that has stuck with me since then:

Virtual Learning Quote for Challenging Times

Let’s make the best of this!  Time to get ready!

Distance Learning and Homeschooling

Educating children at home can have its challenges. Especially for those who aren’t prepared for it!  And for the parents that also have to work.

We’re all in this together!  Time to rally up, stay positive and be supportive.

As teachers are preparing for distance learning, parents can use the back-to-school-shopping time for the… get-the-house-ready time (no need for new clothes in our house!)

My husband and I are creating different learning zones for each of our three kiddos (without interfering with my teletherapy work zone!)

The different learning areas will meet the learning styles for each kiddo.   

  • Child one: quiet area, white noise, straw cup with ice water.
  • Child two: no phone, adult proximity, hand fidgets, pull-up bar. Weights, snacks, noise, reassurance, protein drinks. More adult proximity, more reassurance, prompting.  Stimulation but not too much stimulation. Tools to help focus but tools that won’t distract too much.  Praise and more reassurance!
  • Child three: no phone, adult proximity, prompting as needed.

All three will be following a new schedule from mom and dad!  It will include screen free down time, time with the new puppy and chores. 

I’m hoping that your school / teacher will provide your child with a daily schedule appropriate for their grade level.  If not, Google one. Make sure that you don’t expect your child to focus on a learning tasks for too long without a break.

For support on distance learning and homeschooling, Education Reimagined gives an EXTENSIVE list of resources. Covering many topics!

Tips for Preparing for Distance Learning and Homeschooling

1. BE POSITIVE!

  • Adults set the tone for a household. 
  • The most important thing that we can do for our kiddos is to be positive!  
  • Smiles can go a long way!

2. Get organized and stay organized

  • Create a system for supplies, completed work, and to-do piles.
  • Use designated work areas.
  • Make separate spaces for down time (on the floor, in a bedroom, on the couch.)

3. Create a daily schedule and follow it

  • Follow your child’s class schedule or Google one or find for their age.
  • No matter what ages your kiddos are… they need structure and routine! 
  • For optimal learning, following a schedule is so important. 
  • Assess the schedule every week or two to see if it needs tweaked.
  • Start with more frequent breaks and gradually increase the learning time blocks.

4. Create clear expectations and rules

  • Use positive reinforcement when following the schedule. 
  • Reward with preferred activities (but not too much screen time!)
  • “First ___, then ____ .” statements.
  • Encourage your children to openly communicate when they need a break (without allowing them to take advantage or overuse the option.) 
  • Emphasize BEING RESPECTFUL OF OTHERS learning and working at home!

5. Take into consideration learning preferences

  • Know where to place your child in your house for optimal learning.
  • Some might be okay at the same desk or table.
  • Others may need some more space.
  • For all kiddos, breaks from school learning screens will be important (see 25 Brain Breaks.) 

6. Schedule movement breaks

7. Schedule snack breaks / sip water throughout the day

  • Our brains need water to stay hydrated.
  • We need fuel to stay focused.
  • Chewy / crunchy snacks help increase focus / attention. See proven oral sensory activities for more ideas.

8. Schedule down time, relaxing brain breaks and / or free time

  • Screen free down time!
  • Listen to music, or make time for creative art projects, puzzles, yoga, breathing exercises, fidgets / games, etc.
  • Have a bin of your child’s favorite activities and offer choices.
  • Rotate through the bin of activities (keep 3-4 activities in it at a time, remove one / add a new every week.)

9. Have fun!

  • Lead the way, have fun with your children and make the best of this!
  • Avoid battles.
  • This is temporary.
  • We’re all in this together!

You’ve got this!  Lastly, make sure you remember to schedule important time for yourself.  Find your balance!  

Additional Resources for Distance Learning and Homeschooling

Computer set-up is really important to prevent neck and back pain as well as eye strain. Check out this article for some important tips. These tips have personally been used as I’ve transitioned to teletherapy from home:

How To Prevent Neck Back and Eye Strain During Virtual Learning

Check out this post on using sensory strategies.  It shares movement / body brain breaks / tools for the mouth to increase attention and focus. And, it gives auditory and visual tips to consider when setting up your learning areas:

Sensory Strategies to Increase Focus at Home

Best Brain Break Series – FREE Printable! A sequence of brain based movements that get a child’s brain activated and ready for learning.

Brain Break Exercises Free Printable

Movement Activities to Enhance Learning shares easy to implement movement brain breaks. Great for different sized spaces.

Brain Breaks for Kids Movement Activities to Increase Focus

These Calming Deep Pressure Brain Breaks are a must for some kiddos!

Deep Pressure Weighted Tools Brain Breaks for Kids

If more muscle movements are required, 25 Brain Breaks for Kids shares proprioceptive brain break exercises.

Brain Breaks for Kids Proprioceptive Input

If you need down time / filler time: Art Projects for Kids and Activities to Improve Visual Skills for Reading will give additional ideas that address other skills needed for school tasks!

And as always, share this on your favorite social media platform with other parents who might appreciate the tips and support!  We need to help each other as much as possible!

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School-Based OT

Amy Hathaway MOT, OTR/L, CIMI-2 is a licensed and registered occupational therapist.  She is the founder of Develop Learn Grow. 

Amy has 21 years of experience as a pediatric occupational therapist.   She enjoys collaborating with teachers, parents, therapists, administrators, and support staff in preschools & schools, as well as coaching and guiding parents of infants and toddlers in their homes.

She is married and has three children.  Click to read Amy’s bio.  

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