Virtual schooling a single child is a new and interesting challenge for a parent who has never done it before. Virtual schooling more than one…now that’s a wild ride! Sometimes, the schedule seems impossible. It feels as though everything will never be done, and at the end of the day, you collapse into your bed, wondering how on earth you got it all accomplished. In fact, it may feel like barely-organized chaos—and that’s on a good day! (The rest of the days are just chaos.) In the beginning, it feels completely and utterly overwhelming.
But have heart! It does get better. And more bearable. And eventually, it can even become fun again!
Recognize the learning curve. In the beginning, everything is new, and intimidating. It takes more time simply because you’re not accustomed to it. Even putting in attendance (I do that where again? How am I supposed to—wait a minute—and what if I forgot a day?!) can take ten or fifteen minutes at a time, whereas a veteran learning coach can do it in just a couple of minutes. Likewise, getting through lessons (and not only getting through them, but preparing for them, and teaching them) becomes easier with practice and repetition. You learn how the lessons are structured, how each of your children learns, and how those things combine—which is something that you likely didn’t start off knowing.
Put the responsibility where it belongs: on your children. Let them do as much as they are able on their own. Be a watchful, guiding presence, but don’t feel as though you have to monitor every moment. Once children are old enough to read on their own and follow simple instructions, they’re free to do entire lessons with only a little bit of input from their learning coach. Class connect sessions? Unless your child has an issue that requires your assistance, there’s no reason why you can’t let them be the responsibility of their teachers. That might even gain you enough time to fix lunch, throw in a load of laundry, or vacuum the floors!
Work as a team. Is there something that your older child can teach your younger child? A lesson that runs parallel, so you can work with both of them at the same time? Elementary school children can give one another spelling words, either for practice or for a test (just make sure they aren’t cheating for each other!). Remind your children going in that you’re all in this together, and that they need to work with you to get it done. You might be surprised by what they’re willing to step up and do!
Preparation, preparation, preparation. By the time you finally reach the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is look at more schoolwork—but a few minutes’ preparation at the end of one day can make all the difference in the flow of the next. Know what each child is expected to do each day. Don’t learn when their class connect sessions are at the last minute; know before the day even starts (though always check back—they are subject to change).
Learn how to get one started, then start the next. You’d be surprised by how much kids can do on their own. You’ll be equally surprised by how much they can procrastinate when they know you expect them to wait for you. Many kids may not take the initiative right off the bat, even with the threat of less free time later hanging over their heads; but if you learn to start one, then move on to the next, coming back to the first one if need be, then you’ll be golden.
Structure your days wisely. Discover when their mutual breaks are. Where does lunch time fall? How about study breaks in the middle? Days when both of your students are off? These are times when you can accomplish things that require all of you. When do they have class connect sessions at different times? Those are times when you can leave one child to their teacher while working with the other one.
Make sure to keep them accountable. There will be days when you have to focus more on one child than the other; but make sure you check what the other child has accomplished throughout the day. That way, even when you’re not paying perfect attention, they know that you’re still aware of what’s going on.