With virtual school beginning again, I know parents and children alike are experiencing a lot of trepidation. My children are going into 7th grade and 2nd grade this week and I can feel the tension rising. As a single mom working from home part-time, I have many concerns about how the learning strategies for this year are going to affect our day-to-day. Here are some simple things to keep in mind to help navigate the strange learning environment this year so we can all try our best to keep our sanity:
Keep to a routine
This is a time-tested remedy for getting through uncertain times. It is no secret children thrive with routine and it has been completely turned on its head during the pandemic so as much as you are able, have consistency. For us, this extends beyond learning to things like having the same menu plan for certain nights, the same bath/shower nights, and our same bed-time cuddle routine.
Part of keeping a routine is creating new routines for this time. This might look like having a morning tea time or a special lunch a few times per week now that we all have some “extra time” (hahaha, but at least there’s less driving and rushing around).
Talk openly with your children about their concerns regarding e-learning.
Many of us are doing our best to shield our children from all the happenings in the world but it is important to check in with them about their feelings and concerns regularly. As parents, it can be scary to elicit a conversation in which we do not have all the answers, but I would argue that makes it even more important. By hearing our children’s concerns, we can focus on things we do have control over and provide a lot of comfort simply by listening and validating them.
Create a designated learning space.
One of the biggest challenges about e-learning is trying to find space for this activity. If you are able, set up a corner of a room where your child can be comfortable and engage in learning with as little distractions as possible. Remember that you do not need to break the bank to accomplish this and children love unconventional spaces. My daughter, created a learning space in the back of her closet.
Get outside every day
Now it is more important than ever to incorporate physical activity and fresh air into the day. I recommend using this unique time to find more ways to get outside with your family. As part of our routine, my children and I go for daily walks at the end of the school/work day. This is also a great time to have conversations about their concerns so win-win! Physical activity is a great way to boost the “happy” neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, that help manage stress.
Hone your flexibility
This virus is teaching us all a valuable lesson on “going with the flow” and “letting go”. These are hard lessons for all of us and such a great time to model this for our children. Keep in mind that children have an immature frontal lobe which greatly reduces their ability to regulate emotions. Of course, we are all going to have ebbs and flows in this process and it is not going to be perfect. That is okay. I’ll say it louder for the people in the back: it is ok not to be perfect at parenting and especially ok not to be perfect at parenting during a pandemic.
**If your child is experiencing challenges that your feelings are not typical, whether as a result of the pandemic or otherwise, please seek out a health care provider to discuss your concerns.