Distance Learning: How to Survive … and actually have FUN

Hello, fellow parent warriors. I know, I know. Distance learning and FUN are not even close to being in the same sentence. They are about a MILE away from each other. In fact, it feels a lot more Game of Thrones than it does Mary Poppins. A LOT of classes. Bucketloads of whining (from them AND us!). Heaps upon heaps of togetherness. How can we make this redundant, frustrating, and oftentimes overwhelming task actually ENJOYABLE? “Impossible”, you say? I say, in my best WWE voice, “LET’S DO IT!”

Survival Guide

  1. Make a master schedule. Each morning, after you’ve had at least ONE SIP of coffee, get out your paper. I love this easel paper from Amazon. Now, gather one marker color for each of your children, plus a one color that means “everyone”. Create a simple color-coded schedule for your expectations for that day. Here’s what some of ours have looked like: When they are done with that class or task, let them cross it out! It gives them a sense of accomplishment and you know you’re one step closer to being FINISHED!
  2. A Fun Workspace. Who wants to sit at the computer, day after day, looking at the same old pencils and lamp!? BORING, right? So, make it fun! Designate a special place in the house that is THEIR school area. Even if it’s just the corner of your dining table. Set them up for success with whatever tools they need for the day (dry erase board, workbooks, headphones, etc). Let them decorate their workspace however they want – within reason – and have them take ownership of it. They can choose their favorite writing tools and decorate their folder. If their desk area is more fun, maybe they won’t dread the 3rd or 4th meet of the day!
  3. Color = Creativity. Who wants to use the same old writing implement every day? Wouldn’t it be MUNDANE!? Well, it is for the kiddos too. If they have to use a dry erase board, pick up a bunch of colorful markers! I love these because of the erasers! If they are using pens and notebooks, let them decorate their notebook with stickers or design them with some sharpies. If they use basic pencils and lined paper, let them pick out some colorful pencils from the dollar store and set them up with a sharpener. Making their day more colorful will enhance their creativity and get those neurotransmitters firing!
  4. Get Outside. When you are creating your master schedule for the day, write in some purposeful OUTSIDE PLAY time. I’ll set up their weather-appropriate accessories by the back door (we may still have jammies on, but we don the mittens and boots!) and make it an official part of the schedule. Rather than just moseying around the house all day, kids NEED to be outdoors. Even if it’s freezing, let them get some fresh air for at least 10 minutes. If it’s raining, set up their rain coats and boots or make them feel special with their own umbrella. However you do it, let their minds be free for a short bit and enjoy the weather, whatever it may be!
  5. Yummies. There’s no way around it – yummy treats are smile-makers. Don’t snack-shame me,. cuz this works! When my 7-year-old has his 3rd meet of the day, he is already OVER IT. Fun snacks are just a MAJOR HIT when it comes to distance learning or homeschooling. So, choose 3 snacks at a time. I try to pick 1 healthy, 1 moderately healthy, and a treat. For example, apple slices, a cut-up granola bar, and a few mini marshmallows. Also, fill up their favorite water bottle so they are fully hydrated. Full belly = happy body = productive student!
  6. Pop-Up Dance Parties. You might not have many breaks throughout the day, but when you do, make them either FUN or RELAXING. When going the FUN route, ladies and gentlemen – I give you, The Dance Party! You will find dance parties a lot on my blog, because they are probably in my top 5 list of things to do at home. Sometimes I find that I’m the only person dancing, which is totally fine! Here’s why: (a) they make ME feel so much better (b) it’s good for the kids to see us enjoying ourselves and smiling, and (c) music makes everyone happier and more productive. So, start with YOUR favorite dance song, and see how long it takes for them to ask for one of their favorites. Even if you only have 3 minutes in between tasks, throw your hair up in a pony and get groovin’!
  7. Special Surprise. In our house, getting through our sometimes 12 meets per day is a MAJOR accomplishment! My gorgeous and amazing friend Toni had the idea of paper bag surprises. Once schooling is over, have a special activity planned in your mind… (or maybe have a few and then decide what you feel like doing last minute). So, 3:00 rolls around, the house is in a state of upheaval, kids are jumping on your bed, and your youngest is covered in marker… but school is done! So, write the name of a special surprise and put it inside the bag. Hide the bag, or just leave it on the kitchen table, and the kids can open and see what you are doing for the afternoon. Examples: trip to a playground, ice cream treat, putting up a tent inside, or if everyone is exhausted – put the title of their favorite movie in the bag with a package of popcorn, and you’re golden! If you don’t already have Hulu, I highly recommend for movie afternoons! Once you start this tradition, your kids will look forward to knowing that something exciting is happening once the work is done. I know it helps US stay motivated!

Distance learning isn’t something that we can completely forget about anytime soon. As appealing as those boarding schools may look at 3:45 on a Wednesday, don’t give up! You CAN make it through, and MORE THAN THAT, you can make it ENJOYABLE. We try to find ways to survive distance learning, and you can too. Thanks for reading and catching the fun with us! Remember, We’re all in this together! … who loves High School Musical as much as me? Next dance party track – check!

4 thoughts on “Distance Learning: How to Survive … and actually have FUN”

  1. Wow! I want to come to your school!

    Please give the boys and Mike a big hug from me. And one for Auggie, too.

    And I’m sending YOU the biggest, most gigantic, Italian, virtual hug in all the world!

    Miss G

  2. Oh my goodness Punjab!
    !! I love the stations! Yes and YYYYYEEEESSSSS!
    I absolutely love your enthusiasm and color coded schedule. And you’re so right about the need for outside at least once a day and a special surprise to look forward to.
    These little buttons need the energy and motivation to keep going and get their work finished.
    It’s a long day-
    Thank you for sharing these super helpful tips! I am going to share your page with all my friends.
    So many mammas could use this
    Hugs and loves

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