Hey, hey, parents! How’s it going? Anyone ready to lose their mind yet? Oof. I know. To add to the fun mix of coronavirus survival, many of us have been or will be starting e-learning with our children. Our district in Pennsylvania is a bit unique in that we started e-learning immediately upon school closing. So, while I am definitely not a teacher and entirely new to online learning, I have now dipped my toe in the elementary e-learning pool for two weeks, and have a few tips to pass on in hopes they make your journey on this scene a bit easier, parents!
11 Elementary E-Learning Tips
- If the school offers devices, get them! I passed on this option, thinking we’d be fine with my kids’ Kindles. Wrong! We are unable to access needed apps via their devices, and now “enjoy a lot of sharing of devices” with a laptop and an Android device (read: it’s a challenge!).
- Stock up on printer ink and paper. Many students may do fine viewing emails sent by their teachers on a device and working from there. My children, especially my ASD son, do so much better with an actual paper they can cross off tasks as they complete them. Since we get emails not only from their primary teachers, but their encore teachers and guidance counselor as well.
- Speaking of email, if your kids don’t have an email address, set one up for them. So many of the emails teachers send include links that are far easier for my children to click directly on from emails I forward their way vs. typing in from a printed document.
- Use a two pocket folder to help organize their assignments. I use one side for daily assignments and the other for ongoing tasks (i.e. weekly reading long, monthly physical education calendar).
- If needed, write out a daily task list. Between two different primary teachers, four encore teachers, band and orchestra assignments, special tasks for my son’s 5th grade year and more…it’s a lot to keep track of! I have started making a list of daily tasks on a post-it and sticking it to their folder to help keep us all on track.
- Brace yourself for glitches. We struggled so much over logins, apps, devices and printer malfunction the first few days (and even up until the end of the second week with some things to be honest!), it was frustrating. Save yourself the frustration and just assume things might be tricky the first bit and prepare yourself to spend some extra time sorting things at first.
- You are going to want a schedule. If you have this in place, you are establishing a “rule” to follow which leaves for less room for kids wining over having to do their elementary e-learning. A schedule can be as flexible or as firm as works for your family, but get one sorted to make your life easier, mom–trust!
- Be present to help your kids. I cannot answer about 90% of my kids’ questions about their schoolwork, but I still have to be there to help them navigate their school day. I used to work out in the basement; I now do it upstairs close to my kids so I can be near to make sure they are checking off their to-do list, reminding them of what comes next in their schedule, etc.
- Set up a learning-friendly space. I learned this super-smart tip from a fiction novel, The Overdue Life of Amy Byler: use those trifold posters leftover from character fairs and science projects to set up study carrels for your kids. Have a supply caddy of pencils, erasers, a calculator, a dictionary, paper, rulers, etc. at the ready for your kiddos to use as they tackle their work.
- Set the mood! I tune Alexa into praise and worship music on a low level throughout our days. It is not only soothing, but reminds me that God is in control of all this mess. I also light a candle as it helps me to relax and smells nice.
- KNOW THERE IS A LEARNING CURVE! Seriously, friends, this elementary e-learning is new to all of us! Give yourself grace to figure it out and settle into a routine as you go. Speaking from experience, we are still sorting things out, and it’s been two weeks! We are closer for sure, but it is still a journey!
Parents, listen, these are unusual days. They are hard days. And we can and will do this. That said take all the help and hacks you can find in the midst. We are all in this together, and Godspeed with the elementary e-learning, friends! We will figure it out!