Hi everyone, we are well into week two of distant learning and have settled into a nice cozy routine. My girls are thriving and I am slowly finding peace in the unknown, finding peace in the stillness (a softer term than previously used). As I shared in my first distant learning post I was feeling trapped and imprisoned while my girls were doing their online classes, I felt like a stranger in my own home. Another term I recently heard to describe how us moms/dads/caregivers felt was being held hostage, which really hit home for me during this phase of life. Trust me these all sound quite harsh and honestly they are extreme ways to explain my feelings, but I want to be as truthful and real as possible. I don’t want to always show you the “picture perfect” life. So, this is me keeping it real. XOXO
However, with all the negativity out there, I decided to take some much needed deep breaths and see all the good that has taken place during this season of our life. I have come to peace with the way our school year has begun. I must say I love having my girls with me, I love being able to hear their little voices learn and grow throughout this process. I love seeing how well they are adapting and adjusting to the ever-changing circumstances. My girls are making me proud with how well they are doing as the chaos shifts around them. They are amazing, they are resilient, they are learning that sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. Sometimes life throws you some craziness and you simply have to figure out how to move on, how to dance in the rain.
I thank God every day for giving me my four daughters. These girls keep me grounded and stable. They have taught me that nothing in life is perfect and that is what makes it beautiful. Find peace and stillness in the chaos.
Before we move on, I wanted to point out that I haven’t shared any of my negative thoughts with my girls. I am a huge believer that we set the mood/tone for our house and our children. I want my girls to only feel the positive energy from me at this time, therefore, I have been keeping these feelings to myself, when it comes to my girls. This week has been so much better for me and I feel as though things are coming together, I am learning what my role is at this moment in our distant learning life. Once you figure out your role in any situation life seems to come together. I have learned this over the years and can be transferred to multiple areas of our lives.
Remember, there is always something good in every situation. Sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper.
For the most part my girls are happy and enjoying this way of learning. We certainly have our unsettling moments, however we are doing very well. Of course, they want to get back into the classroom, but they are loving their daily routine. They love waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast and logging into their classrooms. They even missed their new school routine this past weekend. My girls definitely do better when on a schedule, don’t we all?
I would say Sophia and Isabella are struggling more so than McKayla and McKenzie. Sophia misses her classmates most of all, she misses the connection with her peers. I definitely think this is partly due to age, but I have also begun to realize it may have some to do with the fact that my twins get to learn together. Since, they are in the same class they are essentially learning with a classmate each and everyday. After seven years, I am still in complete awe watching these two together, their connection is like no other, their connection is unbreakable.
I must say my twins, being seven and in second grade, are definitely more antsy and have a more difficult time sitting still. However, we have found a way to help with some of their wiggles. They have multiple learning spots throughout the first floor of our house. I made upstairs off limits doing the learning hours within the school day, this keeps us focused on school. They are allowed to go upstairs during choice time; my twins like to play school in their bedroom.
Tips & Tricks
- Establish a morning routine. Example: they wake up get dressed, eat breakfast, check that their work station is all set and ready for the day. This morning routine helps us stay focused and on task.
- This one is for us moms/dads/grandparents or whomever is taking care of the at home schooling for that day. Prepare and pack snacks/lunches for the day. I know this may seem silly, but it has truly been helpful. By doing this with my four daughters, we cut out searching through the pantry for snacks and meal requests at lunchtime. The girls simply eat their snacks and lunches as if at school. This also helps keep the feeling of school while at home.
- Try to make yourself (caregiver for the day) scarce. I know easier said than done. But seriously, I quickly came to learn that my little ones (7 year old twins) become much more needy when I am around and actually stay less focused on school. I do stay within earshot, just in case they truly need help and I always let them know relatively where I will be in case they need me.
- If you have multiple children try to separate them as much as possible. For example, my 11 year old is in my husbands office, my 9 year old is at the kitchen table and my twins are each at one end of the dinner room table (with privacy screens). This setup seems to help keep everyone on task and less distracted by their sisters.
- If able, I suggest keeping your children on the first floor or at least in a place where you can help if needed, without running up and down the stairs. I opted not to have our girls do their schooling in their bedrooms simply because I thought it may be more work for me and more distracting for them.
- Have their passwords, daily agenda and other important information clearly posted for them to see and access. This way they can log into everything on their own. By doing this they learn independence and accountability. This also takes the pressure off you, the caregiver, to help every time they need to do something on the computer. We have all of this information hanging on their privacy screens.
- Have multiple places for each child to go. Sitting in spot one a computer the entire day can get tiresome quite quickly, therefore, I have different places for each child to go whenever they need a change of position. Each girl has a table/desk spot of their own and a place on the floor/couch. Giving them options is crucial. Make sure the options are not open ended, but defined. My twins especially get quite squirrelly throughout the day and this really helps to keep them on task and not get as antsy.
- Utilize their breaks throughout the day. Whenever they get a few minutes or longer I encourage/force them to go outside, in the basement, simply get moving. I make sure they get a break from the computer. Today, my two older girls went on a 20 minute walk, they truly enjoyed their alone time; I think this may become a daily occurrence. (I do love how this pandemic has made my girls even closer, they have truly learned to rely on each and it’s quite lovely.) My twins and I played ladder golf outside and had so much fun. These are the moments we would have never experiences if they were in school. I am holding onto these special times, these special memories.
- Have multiple types of headphones/earbuds available. We learned this one within the first day. McKayla’s ears were hurting her after their half day and I quickly realized that we needed to have different options for them to listen to their teacher (God knows I was not about to let anyone learn remotely without headphones/earbuds, I certainly don’t need to hear their teachers all day long.) For each of the girls we have at least one set of headphones and one set of earbuds. For the twins, I actually have two sets of headphones each. Find what works for you. Amazon has a ton of options for kid sized earbuds.
- Give each child a bin/box/basket to keep all of his/her belongings in it. This way their school supplies can easily be brought with them wherever they are learning at that day or time. This also makes clean up at the end of the day easier. Their snacks go in their bin, basically anything they need to be successful throughout their day. I put their snack bags in each of their bins the night before.
I am all about making distant learning as pleasant as possible for everyone involved, by having these practicing in place from the start it has helped establish a smooth daily routine quickly. My girls know what to expect each and everyday, which eliminates breakdowns due to uncertainty.
I hope these tips were helpful. I’d love to hear anything that is working well for you. We can all learn from each other. We are stronger together.