By Guest Blogger Carrie Sockwell, author of Our Carolina Home

Backpack, check.
Lunch, check.
School Supplies, check.
First Day of School picture, check.
Drop off at School…….

I don’t know what that last check box will look like in your house, but the first day of school is probably going to look a little different for most if not all kids this year. Some kids will be going back, but most will be starting their first day of school at home or a remote location away from school. As a parent to two first graders and an educator myself, I had no clue what I wanted my kids to do this year. At one point I wanted them to go back, then I wanted them to stay home. It was an endless battle between my heart and mind. However, no matter what I wanted, the schools have decided to stick with remote learning for at least the first 9 weeks and we have to figure out how to roll with it. Once we heard the news of remote learning, my parent/educator brain started to work in overdrive. I wanted to figure out how to make remote learning more successful than it was in the spring.

This year my plan is going to consist of a couple easy things …
-Routine and Schedules
-Management Techniques
-Practical Spaces and Materials

Routine and schedules might be the top idea that is going to make this remote learning thing even possible for us this year. We had none of that last year, which was probably why it fell apart miserably. One of the first things that successful teachers put together before the kids ever come in the room is a schedule. They set it, they practice it and they stick to it. Kids thrive with routines and schedules. We need to have a consistent time to wake up, eat breakfast and start on school work. We can’t get up when we feel like it, mosey around the house and play until we’re ready to work. It needs to be intentional and kept in place daily. Work together as a family to decide what your schedule may look like this year.

The second thing most successful teachers do at the beginning of the year is go over their classroom management plans or behavior systems. If we have expectations for our kids to stick to schedules and routines, to work hard and behave, then we need a system to reward them with. First, I would check with your school and figure out what they do for behavior there if you don’t already know. Along the lines of the schedule, consistency with the behavior system will help. If you don’t know or want to try something new, here are some ideas to try:

  • Class Dojo – A ton of schools use this and have had a lot of success with it. It is basically a point system where students can earn and gain points depending on how they behave and work. It gives you weekly updates on their percentages and will keep track of total points. This is a free app that has a parent version. My kids use this at their school and I have used it at home to encourage positive behavior as well. At the end of the week they can buy things with their points from a treasure box.
  • Behavior Chart – This is similar to the point system but instead of points they move a clip up and down a chart to indicate their behavior. At the end of the week you can reward them for a certain amount of days above green.

No matter what system you decide on, be consistent and stick to it.

Practical spaces and materials is the last piece to the plan. Set up a space for your kids that is going to be conducive to learning and has little distractions. It might be at a desk, dining room table or kitchen counter. Make it inviting and easy to store all materials. Think about all tools they will need during the day and have it easily accessible. Some of the basic materials might include a computer or ipad, pencil, notebook, dry erase board/marker, headphones and crayons. Students in grades K-2 could benefit from magnetic letters and a cookie sheet to build and make words. Talk to your child’s teacher about what they might need for remote learning.

Mama, I know there is a lot on your plate and mind so I hope this helps! Remote learning is not going to be easy but together we can make it manageable! Everything I have shared is something that I have done at school with my students and/or done at home with my kids. If all three things sound impossible, try just one and slowly add another when you feel successful with the first.

WE can do this!

For inspiration for high school students, click here. For more helpful blogs on navigating this school year with any age, click here.

Want to see more blogs like this and get notifications on local events and happenings? Subscribe to Triad Moms on Main’s weekly newsletters here.