These last couple of weeks have been difficult. This week I had planned to write about the Florida Prepaid 1-Year University Plan and how starting small is better than not starting at all. But, not much about life is normal right now. Like many of you, I’ve been feeling anxious, concerned and uncertain. Will anyone I know get sick? Will I still be able to provide for my family? How am I going to manage working from home AND do homeschooling? Fortunately, transitioning to at home learning has been a rather smooth process for us and I’m taking my wins where I can get them. I’d like to give a big shout out and THANK YOU to Florida Prepaid for helping to support Florida families and this blog via this sponsored post, and for giving me the opportunity to share some of my tips for transitioning to at home learning.
Update: Florida Prepaid is providing financial relief with a new payment deferment option through July 20. Plus, Florida Prepaid is waiving 100% of the Application Fee for new plans established through April 30. Enroll with promo code MOM1920. During this time of uncertainty, with Florida Prepaid, your college savings will always be secure and guaranteed by the state of Florida. Learn more here.
We’ve been fortunate in that our county had a very good contingency plan in place for online learning. Last week they distributed loaner devices and established free internet service for families who needed them. And we had a chance to chat with our teachers and get a feel for what our virtual learning would be like. This week we started working on assignments that will be graded. Hillsborough County was also quick to establish free breakfast and lunch pickup for students. They’ve done a super job, during this difficult time.
My daughter loves going to school, and really needs to be mentally challenged. She doesn’t do sitting idle very well. So, for her sake and for mine I got her started right away doing at home learning. There are many online learning websites, educational YouTube channels, and at home learning tools available that are 100% free to use. We’ve been taking advantage of many of them. I have a list of some of our favorite online learning websites that I’ll continue updating as we discover new ones.
Tips for Transitioning to Learning at Home
Talk to your children about what’s going on.
Depending on your child’s age, talk to them at their level and explain why certain things are going to be different for a while. Just as fear and panic are detrimental distractions so is the unknown, especially in the minds of young children who are the most vulnerable with ever-evolving brains. Don’t volunteer too much information that might be overwhelming but do answer their questions as best as you can. Be reassuring and focus on what your family is doing to stay safe. Keep talking and keep your kids informed as things change.
Have a consistent learning space.
I think it is important to have a designated space for school work. As best as you can, choose a room or area in your home that is free from distraction. We are somewhat limited on space, so my daughter is working from the dining room table. I keep the TV turned off and am usually sitting nearby in the living room doing my own work. We are not right on top of each other, but close enough for her to ask me for help.
Avoid distractions such as TV and video games.
I touched on this above but feel it deserves another mention. Doing school from home is going to be a big adjustment for our children, so the fewer distractions the better. Something as simple as keeping your phone on vibrate can help your child stay on task.
Create a schedule and set specific daily goals.
Maintaining structure and normalcy is important. Set a routine and stick to it each day. Implement procedures that maintain the normalcy of operations as much as possible, keeping a structured routine throughout the day. This is probably the most important to keep your kids on track and ensure your sanity. In the midst of all the many changes, I’ve tried to stick to our usual bedtime and wake-up routine which has really helped us. We both thrive on a schedule.
Set aside specific times for activities – reading time, watching educational videos, playing educational games, and lessons that teachers have provided. Also, work in some fun hands on activities if you can, such as science experiments, art projects and practicing and instrument if you have one.
One option is to break the day into small chunks much like school does with subjects. Since T is in middle school we have different teachers for each subject. On Fridays each teacher will be giving us our assignments for the upcoming week. What one teacher recommended is that we dedicate one day per week to each class. Since we have so many teachers, I think that this might be the best option for us.
Take advantage of opportunities that you normally would not have time for and cherish these teachable moments.
This is particularly important for homeschooling or if you’re school doesn’t have a virtual learning option for you. Creating detailed lesson plans is a lot of work, especially if you have multiple children at different grade levels. Most of us don’t have the luxury of being full-time teachers to our kids. What I recommend is spending just a little time the day before to set some goals and gather any resources you may need.
Look at school work your child was bringing home for inspiration. Use educational resources beyond what the school provides.
As important as it is to have a set routine, it is equally important to be flexible. Keep your child’s study schedule flexible based on his or her individual needs.
Take brain breaks.
Be sure to give your child plenty of breaks throughout the day. You don’t want them to become sedentary. Spend some time each day playing in the backyard if you have one or exercise together indoors. I think it’s important to get away from the computer or lesson books several times during the day. Have a snack break, put on some music and have a mini dance party or go on a scavenger hunt. I have free printables you can use for doing an Indoor Scavenger Hunt or a Backyard Scavenger Hunt.
Audible is offering free stories for kids. As long as schools are out, they’re hosting a free selection of stories, for kids of all ages, at stories.audible.com. It is all free. No sign ups. No commitments.
Keep a notebook, journal or electronic copy of your work.
To help my daughter keep track of her assignments, I made a simple Weekly Assignment Printable that you are welcome to use. I made it in two different colors, pink and blue.
You can download and print the PDF files below:
Invest in your child’s future.
Florida Prepaid College Plans are one way to do that.
In trying times, I think it is very important to continue dreaming and looking towards the future. Sure, some things may be different for us all moving forward, but we’ll get through these difficult times. It’s important to give children hope whether it’s making a travel bucket list or planning for future college. Continue to inspire your kids to dream big.
Having to transition to at home learning is a situation most of us didn’t expect to be in. We have a LOT on our minds right now, so please give yourself some grace. Things aren’t always going to go as planned and that’s OK. What you are doing is enough.
Just be a positive influence for your children as they adjust to the new learning changes. This is a very uncertain and maybe scary time but you can do this. I can do this.
I hope you found these tips for transitioning to at home learning helpful. I am not an educator, but this is what has worked for me during summer breaks and these last couple of weeks as we’ve begun practicing social distancing and staying home. I’d love to hear what is working for you and your family. Please take a moment and drop me a comment below and be well.