It’s official! Geneva Academy's “spring break” week has wrapped up and our teachers and parents and faculty started the transition to remote learning! We strongly believe that NOTHING replaces face to face instruction from the teacher to student, so it’s by design that we are rolling out our own version of online learning.
You can rest assured that your child’s teachers will create a dynamic learning environment in their online classrooms. But it’s only natural for parents to feel apprehension about spending weeks at home helping children with schoolwork while managing childcare, jobs, and more. Here are some useful tips for how to prepare your family’s home and hearts for successful remote learning.
1. Set the Space
Students learn best in a focused environment, and having a clearly delineated classroom space keeps school time from bleeding over into family time. If you have a quiet room and table or desks that can serve as a dedicated classroom, great! But if not, never fear. You likely won’t be throwing dinner parties during this period of #socialdistancing. So take all the pretty things off of your dining room table, throw a cover on it to protect it, and designate it as a schoolwork space for your kids.
If possible, think through separate spaces in the home for quiet work as opposed to audible work (e.g., watching recorded lessons with headphones vs. live classes when your student needs to speak out loud). For those with multiple students, once you know expectations for each class/grade, prioritize and schedule which child gets access when and on what device.
2. Gear Up
Have your kids go on a school supply scavenger hunt throughout your house for pencils, pens, markers, notebook paper, etc. Assign kids to sharpen pencils, test out all the pens and markers to weed out bad ones, and make a list of potential supplies to acquire. Sort supplies into big mugs, plastic cups, empty tin cans, or bins and set them up in your new school workspace. Consider ordering extra printer ink so that you don’t have to make a trip to the office supply store.
Locate any computers, laptops, or tablets. They don’t need to be the latest technology, so if you have older devices, now’s the time to dust them off and see if they’re still functional. Charge them, set them up, and connect them to your WiFi. You do not need a device for each child, as learning can be staggered so that students can share devices.
When your students are online, you might want to cut down on the noise and stress by having them listen with headphones rather than projecting sound out into the room. Track down headphones or earbuds that will fit your devices, preferably one set per student to avoid sharing germs. If your headphones have a built-in microphone, make sure that both the microphone and headphone portions work at the same time on your device.
3. Create Consistency
We highly recommend that you set up a consistent schedule for your household. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every weekday. Schedule mealtimes and snacks, Bible study, school/work time, exercise breaks, and household chores in order to give your family’s day a rhythm. Most importantly, schedule down-time as a family when you can play games, garden, read aloud, or just take a nap. After the COVID-19 outbreak has passed, you’ll want your family bond to be stronger for the experience.
If you have multiple students, they will likely need to be on different schedules. So print out a copy for each individual or post a multi-person schedule in a prominent place. Setting expectations with your child(ren) ahead of time can head off a number of conflicts.
If you need to fill time in your daily schedule, this is an excellent opportunity to teach children new skills like cooking, doing laundry, or riding a bike. Learn something new together with online art, music or language lessons. Have you been hoping to potty train your toddler? Perfect timing! Everyone in the family can help. Have you been wishing for slower mornings? This is fantastic opportunity to teach your children the basics of making breakfast foods! Get them in the kitchen, families!
4. Maintain Connections
This time at home is an excellent opportunity to show children a variety of ways to maintain relationships. Coordinate schoolwork breaks with another family so that your kids can video chat with or call their friends. Write letters to family members, neighbors, the elderly quarantined in our area's nursing homes, or anyone else God lays on your hearts. Make gifts to drop off to the elderly in our community.
Keep in touch with other parents! All of us are facing new challenges, and it helps to encourage one another. The Geneva Academy Parents Group is an excellent forum for asking advice and sharing solutions that have worked for your family. Each class also has its own, be sure to connect with parents there, too!
5. Prioritize Joy
Perhaps the most important thing we can do to prepare our homes for this new season is to prepare our hearts daily. Greet each day with prayer and Bible study as a family. Play worship music in your home and participate in online praise services. Over dinner, make lists of the blessings God has given your family that day.
Get creative with ideas for how to encourage a positive attitude. “Catch” your students being helpful, loving well, or working diligently, and recognize them by writing notes on a family praise board or leaving sticky notes on their workspace. Make your own family “noodle jar” (or pom-pom jar, penny jar, etc.), and acknowledge students’ efforts with noodles. Together, choose a family reward to work toward, and promote a team effort to fill the jar.
Lastly, take joy in the opportunity to lavish love upon those closest to you. Our children will follow our lead in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. If we look for the best in one another and find joy in the challenge set before us, they will be better equipped to do the same. We will all need extra grace in the coming weeks. Each of us will have good days and bad days, so let’s try to respond to one another (and ourselves) as our Heavenly Father responds to us.
By the grace of God, Geneva Academy has a dedicated board committed to making the transition to remote learning a positive experience for our school community. We have an excellent team of staff and parents facilitating online instruction. The low student-teacher ratio and Classical education methods taught at Geneva can significantly increase the effectiveness of remote learning. And most importantly, we have the benefit of partnering with families who are fully dedicated to their child’s instruction in the classical and Christian model. Together, let’s look forward to the day when we will hear our Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.