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August 26, 2020

Is Your Home Ready for Distance Learning?

The new school year has begun, and for some families, it means continuing the distance learning programs instituted by school districts nationwide last spring. Like many parents, you may have thought the last few months of the last school year were completely out of the ordinary, and everything would be back to “normal” this fall. You may have thrown together a hasty – and very temporary – distance learning protocol for your children that, to be honest, was less than ideal. Since we’re once again looking school at home straight in the eye, it may be time to re-think the distance learning set-up at your home. The team at Ernest Homes knows what you’re up against – and we have some great suggestions for taking your distance learning program to the next level.

The first question is always ‘Where should we set up the distance learning station?’

The answer is – anywhere you can make it work. If your child does have an appropriate space for distance learning in his or her room, start there. Otherwise, the most important criteria are a flat, sturdy surface for writing, comfortable seating and an abundance of light. If you can find an area with space to store school supplies and course materials that also offers a dedicated area where work can be left in place while “school” is out of session, you’ll be way ahead of the game. To find the ideal place in your home, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Do I need to upgrade my Internet capability? – If your Internet connection is slow, drops often or buffers and hiccups, call your provider to have them assess your needs and suggest the best plan for you.
  • Is there an electrical outlet nearby? – If not, make sure the technology used for school is fully charged every morning.
  • Is the area away from distractions? – Keep your child focused on school by avoiding television, pets, siblings or toys and games in plain sight. You may also want to consider noise-cancelling headphones for your children to help them block out sounds that will grab their attention.
  • Is the space clutter-free, with room to spread out work materials? – Asking your child to work in small, crowded space can be frustrating, leading to sullenness and possible meltdowns. 
  • Will an adult be nearby to answer questions and help your child with difficult tasks? – This may be tricky if the adults in your family will be working from home as well. You may want to enlist the help of other family members such as grandparents and older children to make sure the same person isn’t consistently the one whose own work is interrupted.
  • Is this space used regularly for other purposes? – If your kitchen table is small, and lunch will need to be served there every day, it may not be the best area to choose for distance learning. Consider out of the box ideas such as the coffee table with a fluffy cushion as a seat, the table in your formal dining room, or a perch on a stool near the kitchen island. You can also purchase an inexpensive lap desk or set the kids up outside on your patio furniture.

Make time for break time! Be sure to have both morning and afternoon snack breaks and a lunch break. Encourage your children to leave their school area for breaks. Take a walk around the block while you munch on apple slices or give your child fifteen minutes of play in your yard.

You can also rotate locations to break up the monotony and let your child know that they can learn anywhere they want to. Allow children to complete reading assignments while lying in a hammock or to do their math problems sprawled out on the living room floor.

Keep your children to their usual schedule as much as possible. Get them up every morning at the same time, have breakfast at the same time, and break for lunch at the same time they’ll eat when in school. And get them fully dressed each day – nothing says slacking at schoolwork better than distance learning in pajamas!

If you have more than one child learning at home, try social distancing your children as well. Leave ample space between them, so they will be less likely to annoy or pick on each other.  Browse the internet for great learning tools to supplement their school work. For example, free, live-streamed classes and activities are being added by school districts, libraries and educators of all types. From painting to yoga, story-time to quiz games, there’s plenty out there to keep your child entertained while picking up new skills and widening their knowledge base. Browse  National Geographic or PBS Kids for ideas, search for historical documentaries or podcasts on current events or take virtual trips to far off places via live webcams.

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