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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Licate

It’s Been Almost a Month of Virtual Learning…What Works? What Needs to Change?

This fall, virtual learning looked a lot different than it did last spring. More was expected of the children…and parents. The schedules were more specific and there was more accountability. I wasn’t prepared for these changes!

Before managing schedules for two elementary-aged children, I thought I was organized…but it wasn’t enough! I needed so many organization systems! I tried to turn my virtual classroom into an elementary school classroom. I made a huge poster of my children’s schedule. I made charts for each child to list their weekly assignments. And, I used visual aids to reinforce learning. My husband and I ordered a map of the United States and a huge dry-erase calendar, which listed the months, in order.

My plan before the school year started was to sit in between my two children so they didn’t distract one another. But, I was planning on doing my work while they worked relatively independently. That wasn’t enough support for them. I needed to listen to their classroom meetings. I would hear valuable information, such as assignments that were due, the teacher’s directions to keep their cameras on, stop spinning in their chairs, write the examples in their notebooks, etc.

The virtual classroom alters the teacher’s ability to see the children. About 93% of communication is non-verbal which is even harder to interpret through a computer screen. Children can hide their face from the screen when they’re frustrated or don’t understand the material. When my children tried to do this, I stepped in as their teacher’s aide. I reassured them that learning new information virtually is challenging and reinforced the material, so they felt comfortable rejoining the class.

To say this is a stressful time for the country is an understatement! I felt the stress and knew if I was feeling it, my children were too. Positive, supportive relationships build resiliency in children. It was important for me to focus on finding joy in the little things and having fun throughout the day. I want my children to come out of this pandemic stronger and more self-reliant than they were going in.

In any difficult time, it’s important to focus on finding the rainbows after the storm. My children and I spend special time together at bedtime to focus on our gratitude for the positives in our life and throughout the day. We always talk about the best and worst parts of our day. My daughter calls it the “pow” and the “wow” (which she borrowed from My Pet Slime by Courtney Sheinmel).

These changes have made the last couple weeks more comfortable and happy for all of us. There’s still stressful moments, but we’re getting through it with the understanding that we’re doing our best every day, and that’s all we can expect of ourselves. Please let me know if you’ve tried any of these suggestions, or if there’s suggestions you’d like to share with me. I’d love to hear some tips from all of you!

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