Many families are adapting to virtual schooling. Luckily, there are several ways that you can make attending virtual school fun for everyone and do it on a budget. Here are some of our favorite ways to spice up the school days at home.
Set Up a Learning Space of Their Own
While the whole family can turn the dining room into a work and school space, it can be easier to concentrate when everyone has a space of their own. You might want to designate a portion of the living room or finished basement to being the “school zone.” If your family has a guest bedroom, you may want to rearrange some of the house furniture to create a quiet, stress-free home office.
In addition to a home office style workspace, you might want to create other learning spaces in your home. For example, you can create a reading nook or an art space to do crafts. What is important is your family has the space they need to focus and learn. This might mean purchasing an inexpensive craft table to give the kids a separate area to work in or simply move some furniture from one room to another. Be sure to check in with your kids to see if they have other ideas for organizing, and turning the rearranging into a learning opportunity too.
Schedule Social Learning
Social learning is simply when kids get to experience something new together. This might mean collaborating with a classmate via Zoom or creating a book club with other students in your child’s class. Your kids can discuss their homework, play educational games together online, or ask questions that they do not have the answers to.
Another fun social learning activity is show and tell. It allows kids to teach, learn, and get experience in public speaking. Be sure to give your child plenty of opportunities to have social interactions.
Get Some Fresh Air
Although most learning is happening on a computer screen this year, it is vital to encourage your kids to explore and get plenty of exercise. While practicing social distancing, it is still essential to get plenty of fresh air. The good news is that getting outside is one of the best free activities there is. Therefore, you might want to schedule family walks over everyone’s lunch breaks or make a point to go to a park in the afternoons. Taking a break from virtual school may even help your children be more productive.
For example, one day, you might want to take a walk around the block, and another day you can walk to a local farmer’s market and back. You can even build field trips into your schedule to see free attractions such as a local park or farm.
Use Music to Get Excited
Kids need to stay active, especially when they have extended periods in front of a screen. Starting your days with music can be a healthy way for everyone to get excited about the day’s activities. For example, you might want to start the day with some soothing music or even have a dance party to get everyone’s energy up.
If your kids are anxious about virtual school, listening to music or dancing along to music can be a great form of expression. Additionally, now that kids aren’t spending as much time with other kids and are missing out on gym class, listening to music and dancing along can be a fun way to get moving. With websites like YouTube and Pandora, nearly everyone has free access to all kinds of music.
Breaks are easy, fun, and budget-friendly. You can have your kids take productive breaks by helping you prepare snacks, run errands, or even invent games of their own. You might want to cap the time your kids spend doing formal learning and build breaks into the day. For example, after two hours of schoolwork, you could take the kids to mail something at the post office and then go back to schoolwork. Taking breaks will provide a mental reprieve, and your kids can learn things through new experiences.
Plenty of adults are taking the opportunity to work remotely from places other than their homes, and kids might be able to do the same thing. For example, you might all decide to take your laptops to a coffee shop for a couple of hours on a Friday afternoon as a treat for working hard all week. A change of scenery can be healthy, and for the cost of smoothies or other treats, you can all work remotely for a few hours. This is especially fun with middle school aged children.
Engaging your kids in goal setting exercises is an excellent way for everyone to get on the same page, stay motivated, and set realistic expectations. At the beginning of each week and each school day, you can go over what needs to get done. You might want to include what needs to be done for schoolwork and at home. This way, each person can develop a plan for doing what they need to do and ask for help where they need it.
For example, you might realize that your child must listen to a set number of hours of recordings this week, do other homework, and that your family needs to pack for a weekend trip. If you have a whiteboard or other visual aid, you can add all the tasks your kids need to get done, then allow them to decide how they’ll accomplish everything they need to get done. Your child can plan how many hours of recordings they will listen to and will be on board with packing for their weekend trip in advance.
Goal setting is something that people do throughout their lives, and kids need to create good goal-setting habits early.
The Bottom Line
Both you and your kids are learning to navigate virtual learning. Although it may take time to adapt to new experiences, there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to make virtual school fun. You can get a whiteboard to visualize your goals together, plan lots of time to get outside, and even create designated learning areas together around your house.