How to ensure your kids thrive in virtual learning: 5 tips from a psychologist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s become a massive experiment for schools and parents: E-learning. And with schools in Florida closed thru at least the end of April the virtual reality is that kids will be doing virtual learning at home. And that provides some unique challenges for Moms and Dads.

To best survive this new virtual and home classroom reality, psychologists offer five tips.

  1. Establish a routine and stick to it.
  2. Develop boundaries and make sure the kids abide by the rules.
  3. Make sure children get a break. Schools schedule free time, physical education and lunch break. The same should be expected in home and virtual schooling.
  4. Schedule a creative activity, like an experiment or game.
  5. Psychologists say most of all take this time to connect to your children. It’s valuable family time that’s often lost in our too often hectic lives.

Aimee Breeding has 3 children enrolled in Duval County public schools. And now because schools are closed because of the coronavirus they are all learning at home. Her husband Kyle works dayside, so when class is in session she is juggling 3 children with 3 different lesson plans.

“I think the biggest challenge is trying to manage the workload for three different kids, and trying to make sure that everybody is doing something,” said Aimee Breeding. “Just one person doing three different lessons, that's been really difficult. And just learning a whole new system online, how to do everything, how to turn things in, that's been challenging,” she said. Breeding added things got progressively better through the week and they figured things out.

Breeding says the first week was rough. But they’ve settled into a routine.

“We can go at our pace, do what works for us, there is some flexibility in that,” Breeding said. “We have really great teachers, who have been really helpful and really responsive to messages. And our principal has been really great with keeping us updated,” said this mother of three. “(They are) working with us as we learn to do all of this.”

The kids have settled into a routine and know what their responsibilities are and tackle them just as if they were in the classroom. There’s 6 year old Quinn, a foster child we can’t for legal reasons identify and 9 year old Maddox. He sees some advantages.

"I can stay in my pajamas while I work and I can do my work as fast as I want to,” Maddox says. “At school I can't do that.”

But there are some things he misses.

"I miss playing with my friends at recess, and talking to them at lunch, and I miss my teachers," he said.

And like her brother, Quinn misses getting together with friends among other things.

“(I miss) seeing my friends and my teacher, and playing games,” said the 6 year old.

Aimee says the teachers have been understanding and flexible and that has made all the difference in the world.

“Thankfully we have had really good teachers who have been really easy on us with deadlines and helping us figure out the new system,” said Breeding. “And (even though) the system is being overloaded they are walking us though everything.”

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is recommending school districts keep campuses closed through May 1.

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