Table of Contents
Introduction – Take a breath
Homeschooling, distance learning, remote learning… these are all terms we use now to describe what we as parents are doing with our kids at home during the COVID-10 pandemic to get them an education.
Depending on where you live, the safety guidelines and procedures for your local school can vary wildly. In some states, students are at home 100% while in others, they are in school only part-time to allow for cleaning and social distancing.
A day can combine interactive Zoom calls, emailed assignments, and a learning platform that wasn’t ever meant to be a full-time classroom replacement. Then there’s the technology hassles like wifi outages, and problems using the distance learning software.
Add to that many parents also working from home, trying to play teacher, tech support and working professional all at the same time.
Many parents, to help keep their own jobs, push school work to weekends, and cram it all into 2 days. Teachers have been told not to assign next-day deadlines, to allow kids and parents time to get the work done.
We may think our kids are ok because they are home and less likely to be affected by the virus, however there are a multitude of other problems they are dealing with that are not COVID-related. Many kids miss their routine, their friends, and are struggling to cope with being at home all day, every day.
All of this can lead to a very stressed out family life. After reading through the rest of this post you’ll be armed with ideas to destress your distance learning and be a happier family.
You’ve come to the right place to learn how to destress distance learning effectively and ease your frustration.
What is the difference between homeschooling and distance learning?
What is Homeschooling?
According to Parents magazine, homeschooling started in the 1970s as an alternative to traditional education. There are now more than 2 million children being homeschooled with that number increasing year over year at a rapid pace.
Homeschooling is generally when parents decide to teach their children themselves or with tutors in the home. Homeschooling programs and platforms vary greatly, so be sure to find one that fits your needs and philosophy.
The reasons for homeschooling can vary greatly from family to family. These range from religious beliefs, dissatisfaction with the current education their child is receiving in the public school system, or differing educational beliefs in general.
It is legal to homeschool in all 50 states and many countries, however the reporting to the state of your homeschooling activity varies greatly from state to state.
The main take away here is that there is a clear separation and departure from the traditional public school education structure.
What is Distance Learning?
Distance learning involves teachers that are at another location, and teach via virtual classroom or screenshare like Zoom. The day is structured to a similar day in school. Parents should simply be facilitators at this point.
The school your child is in usually subscribes to a distance learning platform like Google Classroom, Schoology or similar. Assignments are distributed and submitted through the platform.
The curriculum will follow that of the public school system in your area. Essentially it is public school at home.
Some of the frustrations and stress is happening with school systems implementing the split schedule, with half of the class at home, and half in school, to help adhere to social distancing guidelines. The students at home then require a lot of help from their parents who aren’t necessarily equipped or familiar with the school work. Cue the tears.
Below you will learn how to destress, stop the tears, and succeed at distance learning.
1. Establish a new routine, your routine
Kids like structure, routine, knowing what’s next and what to expect. During weird times like COVID-19, predictability and routine can be lifesavers when most everything else is different.
Set up your own routine that dovetails with your distance learning schedule. The idea is not to recreate the full 8-hour day school schedule at all, says Rebecca Bransetter of Greater Good Magazine: “Your family schedule may look more like what you would create over a summer break, including opportunities for fun, exercise, hands-on learning activities, and family connection.”
Ensure you check in with your kid or kiddos throughout the day to make sure everything is staying on track.
2. Stay digitally organized
Having everything in one place is a life saver. With Doculife, you can remove that additional stress of having to search multiple devices or services to find something. It’s all right there, in Doculife. Easy, right? Here’s how.
After signing up, set up a binder per class or subject for your child. For example, if your 7th grader has 6 periods in their day, create a binder for each. If you have a younger child that does not move classrooms, set up a binder per subject.
Within each binder, create sections for assignments. Depending on how many assignments you get, perhaps create a section for the week vs. per assignment. This will grow organically as the school year goes on.
Work within the section and place any relevant information to the assignment there. You will be creating a section that has the assignment, any relevant materials, any research done to achieve the assignment, and the finished product.
Read on to learn how to automatically import new assignments directly into each binder or section. (It’s pretty awesome.)
3. Remember, you and your kiddos are a team!
At times during the day while distance learning it may seem like you are the teacher. You are not the teacher. You are on the side of your child or children, and on the same team.
Like a team, you lean on one another, have empathy, and listen to problems. If you feel a problem turning into a meltdown, pause, listen, and reassure. Get up, walk around, dance, sing… anything to approach the problem collectively and with a fresh, positive attitude.
Also, everyone on a team is usually good at something more than another thing. Remind your child what they are good at, so they don’t feel they are a failure at that point in time.
Use high fives, fist bumps, hugs… general adulation when things go well to promote an overall feeling of positivity.
4. Tame your inbox
In speaking with many acquaintances about their experience distance learning across the United States, many families are feeling the burden of over-communication by teachers. Their inboxes are inundated with assignment emails, schedules and more.
Doculife will declutter your email and tame your inbox. Here’s how.
What is an import email address?
Every binder and section in Doculife have their own unique email address, just like a house on a street. When you send something to that address, it gets delivered right into that binder or even one of the binder’s sections. Pretty cool, right?
Here’s how to declutter that inbox:
- Go to the binder you wish to forward emails to.
- Click the blue “+” and then the Import Email tab.
- You may create an address for the binder in general, or choose/create a section to import to.
- Click “Generate Address”
- Copy the address
- Go to your email program of choice and create a forwarding rule for the teacher’s email address. Use the import email address you copied as the new address to forward to. Here are some handy links on how to set up a forwarding rule in Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo.
- Repeat for each teacher
Now whenever that teacher emails something, it will get imported directly into Doculife, in the exact binder or section you specified. If you create a new section and need a new address, simply repeat the process above to generate another import email. Then simply update the forwarding rule with the new address.
5. Have a go-to destress game plan
There will be times when things simply go sideways and a meltdown happens, even with your best attempts at avoiding said meltdown.
Have a destress game plan that includes activities to take your child or children’s mind off of the current activity to calm them down. This can be things like hugging the dog, petting the cat, shooting some hoops, running around, dancing it out to a favorite song.
Physical activity and singing are two great ways to release endorphins, our bodies’ natural built in happy drug. When we sing or do something physical, endorphins are released, making us feel better, more happy, more positive. We can then face the challenge with a renewed attitude.
The key is to literally change the current situation. If your child stays in their seat, the meltdown, tears and sadness is sure to continue.
6. Collaborate and crowd source
Many schools are using a split class to handle social distancing. This means half the class is at home distance learning while the other half is in the classroom learning from the teacher. The next day it flips… those previously at home are now in school and those in school the day before are now home distance learning. It sounds good on paper, but in practice, it’s a challenge for many parents to get answers to questions on assignments before they are due.
Doculife can help. Chances are, another parent or classmate has the answer you are seeking. You see every binder, section, and piece of content has a dedicated discussion panel. Invite other families in your class to Doculife, and crowd source the answer. Work together. Collaborate.
7. Simplify and lower expectations
We all have high standards for our kids. We had it harder than our kids, walking to school uphills both ways in the snow. They have it easy now.
This may be more true in a non-pandemic time, but in this new normal it may be better to ease back on the high expectations a bit. Children are adapting to change, learning a new routine and missing their friends.
Simplifying life and easing back on productivity standards during this time can do wonders for your relationship with your children, your sanity and overall peace keeping at home while distance learning.
Many parents are also juggling working from home while their kids have a dozen questions about their school work. How are you also supposed to be productive with your own work? It can be challenging for sure.
Easing back on expectations of your child can help reduce the chaos and stress. Remember, this isn’t normal everyday life. Cut yourself some slack.
8. Tools for success
Exploring topics, doing research, writing reports… these are all fundamental tasks throughout our education. Doculife simplifies this process by providing a browser extension to save things like images, videos, bookmarks, links or even notes, directly into any binder as you browse the web. It’s available for Chrome or Firefox.
This enables them to save whatever they need, into Doculife, and any binder they choose. Then everything is organized and accessible when you need it. And you know right where it is.
In addition to the browser extension, Doculife features a suite of productivity tools we call widgets (because you can put them anywhere in Doculife!). Create maps, notes, milestones, reminders, albums and more, right in Doculife.
9. Identify problems before they occur
Oftentimes when our child or children are having a difficult moment that you see headed for a major meltdown, be sure to integrate an action from your Destress Plan above.
What may seem like something small to us, may turn out to be something completely different like missing their friends. The meltdown over an assignment is simply the boiling point.
They aren’t trying to get on your nerves, they’re simply expressing a stress through their behavior. The solution? Empathy. Make them feel safe and loved. Implement your Destress Plan.
If there is an assignment you know your child struggles with, tell them what they are good at before they begin. Give them the foundation they need to handle the larger emotions that can be tough to control.
10. Always be in the know
Getting out of the house in the outdoors to stretch legs, get fresh air and some exercise is always a good idea to keep stress low.
Whether you are taking a family break in the backyard or walking a hiking trail, stay up to date with everything distance learning while on the go via the Doculife mobile app.
The app, like Doculife on the desktop, is secure, safe and private. Only the people you invite or accept invitations from can see your binder. Also, when you invite someone, they can only see that one specific binder, not all your binders. Have peace of mind that everything you are working on with your child or children is protected and secure, even when you;’re out and about.
Conclusion – You’ve got this!
As you implement the techniques outlined above, you will gradually see change in you and your family. It will take work, there is no silver bullet to suddenly make COVID disappear and make your children happy about schoolwork in general.
With the right toolset, both emotional and digital, you can overcome a stressful distance learning experience to discover a life, organized.
You got this, you can do it.