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Our Top Tips to Create a Successful Virtual Classroom - and Survive Social Distancing!

It has been a difficult time for many families recently and there have been a lot of new challenges to all of us, both at home and in the workplace.  We understand that many people are now juggling work and homeschooling and this presents some problems.  This new reality that many of us face;  being responsible for our children's learning alongside our own work, as well as being socially isolated and spending a greater amount of time indoors is challenging.  Here are some of our ideas to help you along the way:

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Work Out a Schedule

Most teachers and experts agree that a schedule is essential.  Each morning, write down what needs to be done that day – whether it's your child’s school work, your own deadline or errands.  Check what your child’s teacher has set that day and also work in some physical exercise, outdoor time, as well as much-needed down time: whatever form that may take.  How much a child can achieve in one go depends on their age: smaller chunks of work for younger children but even older children need to take a break, get up, take a walk or get a drink.
 

Use your child’s regular schedule as a starting point. Wake-up time shouldn’t be much later than usual, despite what they might prefer.  Make sure they are up, dressed and ready by the time that school normally begins.

 

Try to find different quiet places to work throughout the day; morning work could be at the kitchen table, reading could be in the living room and afternoon study could be in your child’s room.

 

Serve lunch around the same time as school and this can also be a good time for your child to take a break to catch up with a classmate or friend using FaceTime or the Microsoft Teams App.  This provides social engagement with peers and create a sense of normality. 

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Change the Tempo Throughout the Day


Break up work with art, crafts, cooking, music or doing a dance or PE class on YouTube.   Music teachers can give lessons to students over Skype and martial arts lessons can also be found on You Tube! 

 

Reading offers a nice, quiet activity for all ages.  Epic app (available on the App Store) is offering free service to all students affected by school closure through June 30th and is a great resource to families to encourage independent reading.


Allyssa McCabe, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell who specializes in children’s language development, advises parents to find time throughout the day to read books with their children. “Reading interactively with (not just at) children is very beneficial for language and literacy instruction,”   Older children can enjoy a book by themselves for a set amount of time each day.


Be sure to get out and move around outdoors. It is still acceptable to be outdoors and fresh air is so good for the mind and the soul!
 

 

Be flexible


Maintaining a certain degree of flexibility is also important when managing the schedule that you have created.  Of course, we need to try to stick to deadlines set by your child’s teacher, but during these difficult times, if your child is having fun playing it might be better for everyone if they are allowed to finish.

For parents of younger children, play-doh and free art sessions can really help keep a child busy while you get some work done. Audiobooks can also help keep a child occupied without TV or screens.  
 

 

Give yourself a break


Finally - and certainly not the least important point is that parents need to take time to ease into this new lifestyle. Your ability to motivate your child to learn will be important in the days and weeks ahead.   This is going to be an adjustment for everyone.  Ensuring that you are in the right mindset to effectively do the virtual learning will make it so much more successful. If you feel that you need a break - then take a break.  Change the schedule!  We understand that this is not easy.

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Can't Get to the Museums, Zoos and Your Family's Favorite Places?

You can virtually tour the museums! Tour Museums Virtually Google Arts & Culture teamed up with over 500 museums and galleries around the world to bring virtual tours and online exhibits of some of the most famous museums around the world including Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, London’s National Gallery, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.


Cincinatti ZooDallas ZooWoodlands Park Zoo, and others are #bringingthezootoyou.  They are offering daily, if not multiple daily offerings of educational animal encounters with their animals, from jaguars to sloths!



The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is live-streaming a home safari on its Facebook page each weekday at 3 p.m. Eastern time. The first broadcast featured the zoo’s 3-year-old hippopotamus, Fiona.


At the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, which is closed through at least April 8, the aquarium’s executive director, Julie Packard, invited people to view the aquarium’s webcams.


Libraries are also going online! Many are offering online story sessions. Here is just one from the Brooklyn Public Library.

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Face Time Your Child's Classmates and Friends

We have heard some really lovely stories of students being reunited with their friends online. Some friends have been playing Pokemon games, doing art together, building lego as well as just hanging out and chatting. In these times of social isolation, it is great for children to have a chance to socialize and regain a sense of normality.

 

Share Your Stories!

 

We have enjoyed seeing pictures of our students having fun, virtually learning and adjusting to their new lives.  Please share any fun photos or stories with us! 

 

Good luck and contact us if we can help!