Starting out as a Learning Coach for an elementary school student can seem a bit overwhelming, particularly if you have preschoolers at home. But it can be done, and done successfully! First-year Learning Coach Alyssa Erickson says that virtual school is a great way to enjoy time with your children, while making sure they’re learning. She offers these pointers for helping your little scholar succeed while keeping younger siblings content:
- Do practice computer skills before school begins. Children in early grades will have a smoother start in virtual learning if they have fundamental computer skills. Find some child-safe online sites or games where your little one can get the hang of using a mouse, scrolling, clicking, and using pull-down navigation menus.
- Don’t try to maintain a separate “classroom.” Placing your student in a quiet school area, away from the sounds and sights of frolicking preschoolers, sounds good, doesn’t it? In reality, doing this quickly becomes unmanageable for the Learning Coach, who has to hop back and forth between the classroom and the “play” room.
- Do pick a central location for doing schoolwork. Find a space in your home where all of you can coexist. You’ll need a work surface for school—and room for preschoolers to spread out. For some families, the kitchen table becomes the classroom; others choose the family room or another area with ample space.
- Don’t save school for a sibling’s “nap time.” Trying to squeeze in school for a big brother or big sister when a younger child is napping could end up frustrating everyone involved. By afternoon, your student may be tired, too—and feeling rushed tends to make both Learning Coaches and children cranky!
- Do set a routine. Your schedule needn’t imitate the traditional school day, but establishing a routine is important for children. Try starting with a standard plan, but feel free to adjust and customize until you find an agenda that fits your family’s needs.
- Do schedule challenging tasks early. Tackle the longest lessons and subjects your child finds most difficult early in the day, while you’re both fresh.
- Do plan self-directed activities for younger siblings to do while you and your student work on lessons. Puzzles, LEGOs, and simple arts and crafts projects work well.
- Do print out worksheets to complete offline. Divide up longer lessons by doing worksheets separately. This will give your student a break from the computer, plus the opportunity to work in a different location.
Despite the challenges, educating your children at home can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have. Be sure to make the most of your time together!