Helping your children thrive in school can be tricky, especially when they are working from home. Whether parents have one child or multiple, virtual learning can make it feel like they need a teaching credential just to get through the day. Fortunately, teachers are sharing their advice on how to keep things running smoothly. From reward bingo to job boards to meditation sessions, there’s plenty of tactics teachers implement to keep their class in order. Read on for tips on helping kids learn from the people who do this every day.
Instead Of Raising Hands, Create An Attention Sign
Parents who have multiple children learning at home may find that they all want attention at once. Since home isn’t as formal as school, some kids have a hard time patiently holding up their hand to talk, especially if it will be a while.
Elementary school teacher Erin Beattie created a sign to use instead. Each child has their own clothespin with their name on it that they can put on the sign-in order from top to bottom. Once a question is addressed, the clothespin goes to the bottom of the sign. It’s like a ticket system for kids.
Call Out Poor Behavior With “Stop Signs”
It can be exhausting scolding kids over and over. To help, elementary school principal Christina Brainbridge suggests using “stop signs.” These makeshift signs read, “Please stop what you are doing and make a better choice!”
She says that the signs encourage children to self-monitor. Place one on the desk or hand it to your child and allow them to evaluate what they think should change. It can save parents their breath, especially when multiple kids are acting out at once.
Create Assessment Tags
Sometimes it can be challenging to tell where a child is at with a lesson, especially when working with multiple kids at once. That’s why teacher Ronnie Eyre created assessment tags.
The tags read, “I’m stuck,” “I may need help soon,” “Good to go,” and “I’m done.” The child flips over whichever card describes how they feel about the activity. This way, parents can stay on top of how their children are all doing with their schoolwork.
Incorporate Tasks That Get Kids Moving
Kids are bursting with energy, so physical activity throughout the day can do wonders for their concentration. Teacher Sarah Wessling suggests having dance breaks in between activities or giving them a task that involves movement, like checking the mail.
She stressing that this is especially helpful when kids seem like they’re on the brink of a tantrum. Sometimes getting some fresh air and physically leaving a spot for a short while can reset their patience.
Create A “Job Board”
Household and classroom chores can be challenging to get kids motivated to do. Teacher Katie Assad found a way to reframe duties so that they make her students feel empowered. She created a job board that has pockets with different roles written on them.
Katie then gives her students popsicle sticks with their names on them to put in different job pockets. She calls the kids “managers” and even interviews them for their chosen job. This way children feel they have a say in what they do, and they can switch roles to keep things interesting.
Shift Activities Often
Younger children aren’t used to working on one particular thing for very long. Teacher Sarah Brown Wessling notes that kids generally thrive when activities aren’t longer than half an hour.
She suggests that parents aim to have their kids switch to something else every 15 to 20 minutes. While it may seem like a short amount of time, planning everything they need to do ahead of time can make it easy to pivot them from one thing to the next.
Take Advantage Of Recorded Instructional Videos
One of the perks of having class online is that teachers can record the class sessions. This way, if a student has to miss a day then they can completely catch up and still get the teacher’s instruction.
It’s also helpful for parents as they can reference the videos when helping their children. Since parents aren’t always teachers themselves, being sure to get a copy of the instructional recording can be a way to stay on top of lessons.
Plan Activities Around Your Child’s Natural Clock
Like adults, children have certain times of day when they are more or less alert and productive. Getting to know their natural rhythm can make it easier to get things done.
Since some lessons will be more challenging for them than others, aim to work on those activities when they’re more engaged. When they’re more distracted, such as later in the day or right before a break, try to do something that comes easy to them.
Use Table Caddies
Digging through rooms and drawers for supplies can take up time and be distracting for kids. That’s why Hawaii teacher Corinna Gandara recommends using table caddies to keep things like markers, scissors, and glue organized and nearby.
She also advises using seat sacks that have frequently used books and notebooks at the ready. This way, the kids’ backpacks can be limited to just papers and folders and are less heavy and overloaded. It also makes cleanup a breeze.
Put Slash Pocket Dividers On The Wall For Homework
Though school becomes more virtually integrated, the use of paper is going down. Still, there seems to be a neverending amount of paper assignments that are practically begging to get crumpled and lost.
That’s why first-grade teacher Courtney Slemp came up with a way to keep track of student assignments in a flash. Just fix a slash pocket divider to the wall with each child’s name on it. Parents will be able to tell in a heartbeat who did and didn’t do their homework.
Set Up A Bingo Reward System
Rewards can be a helpful way to keep kids on their best behavior. Kindergarten teacher Ashley Sharp came up with Behavior Bingo to keep her students on task. To play, create a gameboard with 25 or more numbered squares.
Then attach corresponding numbers to magnets. When one of your kids does something that warrants a reward, give them a magnet to stick to the board so the numbers match. Once the board is full, everyone gets a treat.
Consider Taking It Outdoors
Teacher Lucinda Langsdale encourages parents to take the learning outdoors if possible. The fresh air and sunshine can help keep them energized and focused, plus theirs more to learn about outside. You can have them observe insects or tend to a garden together.
They can do some writing or drawing, or even finish up some homework or assigned reading. Kids are used to having outdoor time at recess, so the change of scenery will help make the day less stagnant.
Let Kids Have A Say In Their Learning Environment
One of the nice things about kids learning at home is that they get to be in a more comfortable environment. Los Angeles teacher Lucinda Langsdale emphasizes the importance of letting kids have a say in their learning environment.
If they would rather read outside, prefer the beanbag over a chair, or want to face a window, those things can be easily achieved. Asking what makes them feel inspired can make the experience more enjoyable.
Keep A Schedule And Stay Organized
It’s no secret that schedules are hugely beneficial for kids. One elementary school teacher told Hunker, “Establishing predictability provides a sense of security and stability for children.” She reminds parents that at school, there’s a designated spot for everything.
To make it easier to stay on task, try to come up with specific places for the kids to keep items like books and supplies, as well as scheduling everything out. Aim to have a solid time for different activities, including lunch and “recess.”
Incorporate Music And Meditation
Both music and meditation can help make the day go by more smoothly. Teacher Lucinda Langsdale notes that music stimulates brain activity in students, so it may help keep your children going.
Likewise, meditation and relaxation activities can help relieve stress in kids, not just adults. Hunker reports that more teachers are setting aside 20 or so minutes to let students relax and unwind with soft music or meditation. The release can do wonders for everyone.
Let In The Natural Light
Teacher Lucinda Langsdale emphasizes the importance of natural light when it comes to productivity. She encourages parents to find a place for their children to work that has little distractions but tons of natural light.
Open up the blinds and pull back the curtains to let the sunlight keep kids stimulated and on task. Lucinda notes that windows energize students and fuel their creativity. Plus, the scenery can make staying home all day a little less mundane.
Use As Much Positive Talk As Possible
Teacher Sarah Wessling warns that a negative comment can send the day going into the wrong direction. Keeping things as positive as possible can help put children at ease, especially during uncertain times.
Offset areas that your child needs to improve in with complimentary mentions of ways that they’re growing. Aim to keep conversations they can hear as lighthearted as possible so they can focus on the work they’re doing without becoming discouraged or distracted.
Give Them Freedom To “Make Something”
Giving kids the freedom to use their imagination can help balance out the many tasks they’re pushed to do throughout the day. Carve out some time in their schedule to let them just “make something.”
Gather together old magazines, boxes, yarn, or whatever else you aren’t using and encourage them to make something. Creative projects will keep them productive without burning them out. Plus, they’ll be practicing their reading and art skills without even realizing it.
Teachers are used to making adjustments since they have hundreds of kids they deal with over time. Though parents only have their kids, it still may take some wiggle room to find what works.
Preschool teacher Jonathan Maxwell-Jolly says he and his wife are coming up with new ways to keep their kids socially connected. While they can’t replicate school at home, they can do projects together as a family and virtually interact with those they love.
Communicate With Everyone
Teacher Sarah Wessler encourages parents to stay in open communication with teachers, coworkers, and children regarding their capacity. Keep the teacher in the loop as far as scheduling and how much time you can put into helping with homework.
Make sure coworkers are aware of the added requirements on your plate due to virtual learning and how that impacts your productivity. Let your kids in on how you’re organizing the day so they know when to come to you with what.