In Tri Delta’s new series, “3 For You,” we’re covering the best tips from experts as we navigate our new circumstances during COVID-19. Tri Delta alumna and middle school teacher Sarah Torretta-Trout, Southeast Missouri, shares her three best tips for parents juggling this new concept of distance learning. Read her three tips below, or listen to the podcast.
As we’ve shifted to remote work and remote learning, many people are looking for best practices about this transition. For parents, one of the biggest questions is, “What is distance learning and how do I homeschool my children?” First, it’s important to remember that right now we are not virtual learning, e-learning or homeschooling. Right now, we are crisis learning, or emergency learning and many are doing it while trying to work full-time. Keeping that in the forefront of our minds is key. Sarah Torretta-Trout, a middle school teacher and parent, expands on this and shares her advice for how can parents can best support their kids in this environment.
Tip #1 Develop Routines and Structure
It’s important to have a routine and structure. If you have small children, create a schedule that includes pictures, so that they know what’s coming up next throughout the day. It’s also important for everyone to get up and get dressed every day (even if it is just yoga pants!) to help signal that the day is starting. Have small things scheduled throughout the week that give your family something to look forward to, or that help mark the time in a different way. This could be a theme night or a certain night of the week for certain foods—think “Taco Tuesday” or “No-meat Monday” or “Fancy Friday.”
Having those structures in place helps kids feel safe and normal. They want to have that routine and normalcy so that they know what to expect and what’s expected of them. Keeping some kind of a structure, whatever that looks like for your family, is important. You don’t have to follow your daily schedule to the minute, but having it there to reference as a touch-point throughout the day can help.
Tip #2 Embrace Spontaneous Learning
There are many everyday learning opportunities your child can have at home that can also relate to topics they’re studying in school. For instance, if you’re baking cookies and you want to talk about math, double or half the recipe so that they’re practicing fractions. If they take home economics, have them go through the grocery list with you and learn what it’s like to plan for the week by prepping out how much food you need. Those are not only major life skills that will serve them in the long run, but they connect to the topics that they’re learning in school.
Anything you can do at home, whether it’s walking outside or playing, all that is still going to help them learn. Don’t stress too much about the one lesson or activity they didn’t do. Make learning natural and capitalize on the time you have together.
Tip #3 Grant Grace
Remember that we have to provide grace both to ourselves and to other people. We should always assume that people are doing the best they can with what they have. Right now, we’re going to have to lower our expectations and make concessions for when things don’t go right. We’re going to have to ask for help. As a parent don’t be afraid to reach out to your child’s teacher and let them know if you’re struggling with something. Open those lines of communication so others can provide grace to you as well! It’s ok to grieve the loss of our normal days. Acknowledge that the grief process includes anger and sadness, let yourself be in that moment and feel ok to be in that moment.
Don’t fall into the Pinterest pressure of all the people who are posting all the cool things they’re doing. If you get a chance to do some of those things, great. But if you just get your kids up and fed in the day, then that’s good too! Do what you need to do to survive right now.