Five strategies to help make virtual school a success
Virtual school may not be ideal for most kids and parents. But, if you reframe how you look at the situation, virtual school—whether fully virtual or hybrid—can be an opportunity for all of us facing this collective challenge. Yes, it’s possible to be optimistic, and even excited about virtual learning. Here are some strategies from a Ginger coach and former homeschooler to survive—and thrive—this school year.
Try out some or all of these tips to help your family make the most out of virtual school.
Set expectations that suit your reality, not your ideal situation and be flexible with your expectations. The following method called “Post-it: Sort it” can help you see your expectations for yourself and your child, and from there you can assess whether they’re reasonable.
Post-it: Sort it
Write down everything that needs to be done in a day on a sticky note. Be sure to include activities that you or your child want to do. Then with your child, sort the stickies into three groups: Fun, Should Do and Non-Negotiable. Look at the categories. Are you allowing them to have fun at all? Or is everything a non-negotiable? Are all the activities realistic? Get input from your child. What might be considered fun for you may not be for your child.
There are two pieces to this one: organizing your space and organizing your time.
If possible, dedicate a space for your child to work. If there isn’t a separate space, try to designate a place where your child can put their laptop and work away at the end of the day. Make sure all of the passwords and logins are easily accessible and visible. It’s also useful to have a calm-down space where kids can take some time to settle their emotions away from stimulus.
It helps having a routine for both you and your children. Try a time-management strategy called “chunking.” WIth chunking, you choose a designated time for “recess,” for example, when you’ll all close your laptops and go out and kick a soccer ball together. Commit to a specific action that will signal specific events in your and your child’s day and try to stick with it, allowing for some flexibility, too.
How you think and feel determines how you behave and take action. This can especially affect how you handle the challenge of this school year. For example, if you’re feeling anxious, you may blame your anxiety on your child’s school situation. But that may not get to the root of your anxiety. Maybe you’re actually anxious about not having time to help your child, or that your child won’t listen to you. Once you figure out your thoughts behind your feelings, you’re better able to manage those feelings and work on the root cause. And, you’ll be better able to support your child.
Your ability to communicate effectively can set the foundation for a good relationship, whether it’s with your partner, children, or coworkers. If you have a big meeting at work, talk to your children ahead of time. Explain to them that you won’t be available during a certain time, and come up with ideas of how they can work through issues if they arise. Celebrate your children if they’re able to honor that time. Similarly, if you have family commitments, give your manager and coworkers a heads-up, or mark your calendar.
A family vision is a statement about what your family wants and how you’d like to achieve it. A family vision can ground you and your family. In order to be effective, though, your family vision must actually represent and reflect your family, not just some aspiration.
Involve your kids in creating a family vision! Ask questions like: What does family mean to me? What are some great characteristics of our family? What are some qualities we need to work on? What do we need to do differently to achieve this? What makes us unique? Then, refer to the statement regularly. At the dinner table, have your kids share what they did that day to embody one of the values on the vision statement.
Figuring out what works for your family will take time. Be open to making mistakes along the way. And remember to take care of yourself, too. You’ve got this! And remember, you’re part of a larger community of parents and caregivers all in similar situations, all doing the best we can for our kids.
Check Ginger coach Kali’s suggestions for podcasts, TV shows, and other educational resources that her own kids love: