Distance Learning Tips from a Teacher-Mom

distance learning tips

These past weeks have been nothing short of crazy. As a teacher myself, I have found it both a little shocking what reality we are living in, and also surprising how smoothly I have transitioned into distance learning and this home-bound life-style. I know many feel like their world has been completely turned upside down.

As no stranger to life-altering events, I feel I am somewhat prepared to be thrust into a completely different world than I’m accustomed to, much like the situation we are finding ourselves in today. 

First, I have to acknowledge that everyone’s experience is going to be different right now based on your situation. This pandemic is effecting all kinds of families:

Families who have family members that are essential workers, and putting themselves in danger every day to serve others. 

Families who are business owners and are worried if their business will survive.

Families who are down one or both incomes. 

Families who are not equipped to both care for and educate their own children at home, long-term.

And so many more. 

I am empathetic to the hardships and uncertainties many are facing. There are many ripple effects of this pandemic that will be felt for a long time. There is no denying or down-playing that.  

I know not everyone has the same experience as I do, and as an educator there are aspects that come easier for me. Know that my child is not school age, so I can’t speak first-hand to the parent side of distanced learning; but hopefully I can offer a few tips and insider info that can help ease your burden of trying to handle everything coming your way.

First and foremost: Do your best.

Do what works for you and your family. It may help to create a daily schedule to provide some structure and routine, but allow for flexibility. Don’t beat yourself up if you deviate from the schedule from time to time. Do what you can, when you can. Teachers aren’t here to judge, they are here to help. 

Ask questions.

Please ask questions to your child’s teachers, administrators or support staff when you have them. Don’t let a technology issue or uncertainty about an assignment cause unneeded stress. That would be exactly what we don’t want to happen. If something isn’t working, communicate that to your child’s teacher. If they can’t help you, they will be happy to find someone who can. 

Find a Healthy & Realistic Balance 

I can’t speak for all educators, but I know my colleagues and myself are trying hard to provide valuable curriculum without overwhelming anyone. Your child’s learning and well-being is still our focus. Please communicate any concerns you or your child may have. We don’t know what we don’t know.

Feeling Overwhelmed (or Underwhelmed)?

If you feel teachers are asking too much of you, know that it’s not intentional. We are trying to find a good balance as well. What is the right amount of work/activities to send? For one student, what we send might not be enough, but for another it might be too much. Or one day you may have more time than the next to devote to assignments and activities. We know this and know this transition hasn’t been perfect, but we are learning and adapting on the fly, just as parents are.

At the same time, we are also thriving with the freedom to start from scratch, be creative, and think outside the box. I have seen so much creativity, innovation and teamwork among my colleagues. It’s really been nothing short of amazing.

Go easy on yourself (and your kid). 

I have a three-year-old son at home so although I don’t need to monitor his school work, I have often had 2-3 three hours straight of online meetings. It is inevitable that your kid(s) are probably going to get more screen time than you would normally want them to have. You are going to feel like a bad mom because you are shooing your kids away and are maybe short with them when you are trying to focus on your work. I have one kid, and I have definitely felt that way from time to time. So those of you who have multiple kids and are working from home (when that’s not your norm), I applaud you. *I applaud ALL moms right now.*

When you do get a break from your own work, really try and focus on and give attention to your kids. Be really present with them. Play a game, read some books, and when it actually gets nice (like ND nice), enjoy some fresh air together.  

This is temporary.

This is not your life or parenting style forever. As long as your kids are safe, fed and loved, they will be just fine. I remember feeling so guilty after my daughter passed away because I could hardly get off the couch many days. I was lucky to have family to help care for my son when I just couldn’t, both physically and emotionally. I still feel bad when I think about those awfully difficult days of early grief (and everything that goes along with post-baby/c-section recovery).

I could barely muster up the energy to care for myself, let alone my two-year-old. So, he got a lot of TV and tablet time. WAY more than he should have had. But, that was also temporary. Eventually we moved into a new routine and I cherished the “bonus” time I got with him. Time that I had never planned on getting with him, one on one.

To me, this is also “bonus” time I never planned on getting with my son. To get to be at home with him, still keep my job and be connected to my students and co-workers, is a win-win-win for me. It’s certainly not the same and it’s not how I would have ever imagined I’d be spending this spring, but I am making the best of it. I can recognize that I am certainly one of the lucky ones. 

I hope you can find something to make you feel that you are lucky, too. If that’s hard, I am hopeful that you will have better days ahead. Until then, show yourself a lot of grace and follow this advice from my favorite President, Theodore Roosevelt:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  

Looking for tips on entertaining and teaching kids at home? Check out our comprehensive guide here!

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