Families gearing up for a full fledged Distance Learning journey are nervous, scared, apprehensive and skittish. Online classes during a time of crisis or simply a complete change of education delivery needs to be started with a different tool box and we’ve got you all covered with this 22 Page Distance Learning Binder.
Our family has five years of remote learning experience. Our son went to online school full time starting in 8th grade and stayed there through graduation. It wasn’t the most popular decision and we received a lot of negative feedback initially from family and friends.
Fortunately, times are changing and this education approach is emerging as a not only a viable option, but a safe decision for many families. Our son graduated with honors, was accepted to every university he applied to with scholarships and is currently a college sophomore going to university overseas…yes, even overseas universities recognized his online diploma.
We sit here as evidence that it will all be ok. If you have specific questions or thoughts on distance learning, feel free to comment below or email me at info (at) savorandsavvy (dot) com and I’m happy to help in any way I can.
📎 Tips for Success
Here are the tips and tricks that we learned (often the hard way) on how to make this type of education successful.
Keep an Structured Routine
Keep a normal school routine as much as possible. Go to bed, serve meal meals and get ready for school in the morning just like you do when you go to a brick and mortar school. I think we all had this idea that online classes would mean sleeping in, hanging out in pajamas in class and eating snacks all day. It didn’t work for us!
Create a space for your child to do their schoolwork that is not a dining room table. It is important that they work at a desk and not sitting on the couch or laying on the bed. It will lead to muscle aches and won’t allow your kids to focus.
Provide the Tools
Give your child the tools to “go to school” so they can succeed. Pens, pencils, notebooks, paper clips – you get the idea. Create an environment where your kids will be set up for success. They shouldn’t have to search throughout the house to find a binder if they need it.
Be Respectful of Class Time
As a parent, please refrain from talking on the phone if it will cause a distraction. Your kids’ education is the priority and we should respect their need for a positive, professional school environment. Don’t watch Netflix when they are going to school and don’t invite friends over for lunch if it will disrupt your student. Yes, your life just came to a halt. I get that, but all of those things are massively distracting to a young mind and they can not work under those conditions.
Have School Time and NOT School Time
Work with your student to determine the hours of the school day (studying is extra) and stick to it. If you don’t, your child will feel like they are going to school 24/7 because there is little to no separation between school and play. It is draining to be in the same place all day long.
Help Them Navigate
As the parent, try to be the co-pilot. Watch and assist your older child as they navigate the journey – it isn’t easy and they will need your support. Younger kiddos need you to be the full-time Captain, but as they grow older, it’s important for them to start taking on responsibility. Try to teach them independent learning by using questions like “What is your timeline for xyz project?” or “I see your last two Algebra assignment grades went down, have you evaluated what’s going on and what can I do to assist?” They are going to be less defensive if you phrase your questions as helpful rather than judgemental. This takes practice for the parent – trust me!
This was a big one for us…no sweats. I have a human resources background where working from home means “getting up and getting dressed for the day” even if you aren’t leaving the house. Sloppy sweats create sloppy and lazy work. Have them wear what they would if they were going to school everyday. Jeans and a sweatshirt? Great but the sloppy sweats and PJs need to stay in the drawer!
Lack of Breaks
Six hours at a brick and mortar school doesn’t equate to six hours in virtual classes. There is a lot packed into a traditional classroom day but you need to account for many, many minutes of useless questions from classmates, waiting for classmates to get a pencil from the locker when the teacher insists that everyone wait, etc. That doesn’t even count the 5-15 minutes between classes.
Last but not least, a Distance Learning Binder to keep you and your child track assignments, grades, schedules, etc for this upcoming school year.
There are so many moving parts that it will be hard to keep them all straight. A binder enables you to create a calm and organized life! You’re more relaxed because everything is being tracked and so is your student.
Using this will eliminate the sticky notes hanging (and falling from) the refrigerator as you try to keep track of the new school year changes. It’s not easy – trust me! Using printables to keep track of everything in a binder is the way to go!
📒 Binder Contents
I’m going to start off with our signature worksheet. If you don’t use all of the pages, make sure you are using this ONE!
Start, Stop and Continue – This SSC sheet isn’t found anywhere else. It is perfect for your Distance Learning journey. Each week the student and the parent will each write down what they want to start doing, what they want to stop doing and what they want to continue doing. This 100% changed our parenting style, especially doing distance learning.
Weekly Planner – Spend a few minutes on Sundays and prep for the week so you can wake up Monday morning and kick start the week off with a bang! This will reduce stress for you and your student.
School Schedule – If you are working with your brick and mortar school, this page will be crucial as there are so many different emails flying around. It will help you keep track of what time kids need to hop on Canvas and such. Get it all written down so everyone can see it and know the game plan. You may need to write this out a couple of different times to get into the groove.
Password Tracker – There are many different sites your student is going to have to log into now and you need a “go-to” spot for all those passwords. Since the logins are getting more strict, it’s imperative that you keep track.
Class Schedule – This is included in case your student is doing a HYBRID option where they are attending the brick and mortar school part time. It’s going to be tough keeping track of it all, but you’ve got it all written out here. Accept that things are going to be switched up and change so prepare to print off another sheet and just do it again. No big deal.
Teacher Contacts – This is more important than ever. Keep in constant contact with your student’s teacher in case you need assistance – even if you are the family that “never” reached out to the teacher. This might be your year! For a distance learning family, your teachers may change as well and you will need to adjust the contacts sheet.
Assignment Schedule – Have your student track the assignments. Think back to our “old school” when we used to have assignment binders given by the teachers. It’s tough for our young minds to remember everything, especially when everything is new and keeps changing. This is great for first graders up to 12th graders. Kids will forget and hope the assignment goes away. (We all do, right!) Have them write it down.
Assignment Planner – Teachers are ready for the students to embrace the bigger assignments going forward with hybrid and distance learning. Have a game plan to show steps on how the larger assignments are going to be executed. This is also a great time to start working with your student on how to plan projects and embrace that sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t – just like in the working world.
Grade Tracker – It has been proven time and time again that if we write something down, it is more impactful. Have your student write down the grades so you all can track and if there is a problem with a class, you can catch it early. Distance learning can be tougher for a lot of students who do better in a classroom setting, so keeping track of those grades early is vital here.
Study Schedule – Create a time that is still set up to study for tests and extra reading and/or assignments that need to be done. Just because it’s distance learning doesn’t mean it’s 100% done at the end of the day. I suggest doing this especially if you are HYBRID or only doing distance learning for a semester or a year. You don’t want them to lose those skills.
Parent’s Cheatsheet – You need to be on top of everything more than ever! Put in all the vitals here so you can also kick start your year off with a bang. You thought you had a lot to keep track of before, but this is even bigger! Be prepared to touch base at the beginning and end of each day. That is the bare minimum if your student is a rock star go-getter. A lot of students are going to need more hand-holding through this jittery time. Just be their rock and it will all be fine.
Workout Planner – This is included because with distance learning, kids tend to NOT move very much at all and extra activities will need to be incorporated throughout the day. Those pounds will add up quickly. Trust me when I say this! You don’t see it as you are with them everyday but they slip on quickly and you don’t want that to happen.
Steps Tracker – Just like above, put on some sort of steps tracker on your student to realize how little they will move without making an extra effort. Embrace movement! Maybe it is even time for a Fitbit to keep track of the love of moving.
Vision Board – Introduce your student to a vision board and create a vision of what you want this experience to be for you and your student. This can evolve and change so don’t “hit and stick” this one.
Resources – You are going to be introduced to more resources, so keep all that handy information here on this sheet.
Doodle Pages – Doodles help get out some of that energy!
Spines – These are for your notebooks so you are organized.
There you have it, friends. These are the tips we accumulated from doing online school for five years (before it was cool! 😀). We developed these sheets based on our experiences for all of you to benefit and help you reduce the uncertainties and stress you are feeling right now.
As one of the quotes on the pages says: “We don’t grow when things are easy; we grow when we face challenges.” You guys are up for it!
Ginny Collins is a passionate foodie and recipe creator of Savor and Savvy and Kitchenlaughter. Indoors she focuses on easy, quick recipes for busy families and kitchen basics. Outdoors, she focuses on backyard grilling and smoking to bring family and friends together. She is a lifelong learner who is always taking cooking classes on her travels overseas and stateside. Her work has been featured on MSN, Parade, Fox News, Yahoo, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and many local news outlets. She lives in Florida where you will find her outside on the water in her kayak, riding her bike on trails, and planning her next overseas adventure.