I’ve been fascinated with online learning for years. The potential for it, and what’s available, is incredible, but right now it’s a struggle for a lot. I get it. Most are not online learning by choice at the moment.
Since it appears that we are in this for a little while longer, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on how to get the most out of your online learning, and homeschooling, so here it goes!
Having a schedule is so important! Ask anyone who homeschools. They’ll have set times for learning and so on. In schools, students are used to that and continuing along that vein is helpful for parents and students.
*Bonus: one thing families and students can do now, that they couldn’t before, is choose their own schedule. There is an opportunity here to choose a schedule that naturally fits their sleeping patterns and so on. Instead of getting by with online learning, let’s keep our minds open to making it amazing… if we can.
If you have the space, this can make a big difference. Those who homeschool full-time by choice, will typically set up designated schooling or studying spaces. It’s only used for that.
If you are studying on the couch and then watching television on that same couch, there’s a disconnect in terms of what our mind and body should prepare for when we sit there. Think of Pavlov’s dog. We are creatures of habit and stimuli invoke different responses. Part of that stimulus is our location.
Fact: students who take a test in the same classroom they learned the material in, do better than those who are in a completely different environment. This is why they recommend you study in a location similar to where you’ll take the test.
The same goes for your at-home learning. If you can create a study space, then when students sit there, it will grow to create a pavlovian response. This seat and this table are where I learn. When I sit here, I am focused. And so on. They won’t be robots, though, as I just made it sound!
*Bonus: students are learning college-level study skills. In college, and if you ever work for yourself or work from home, it is a skill to learn how, when, and where you best study, learn, and work. There’s a chance to develop that skill now, earlier. I didn’t know my best study habits until I had to learn it in college.
Perhaps I should have started with this one!
Be patient with yourself and give yourself a break. Students, you’re going to lose focus while online learning, just as you lose focus with sitting in a classroom. It’s ok.
Or, maybe you’re struggling with getting your classwork in on time, or just struggling with making the technology work. Whatever it is, give yourself a break. Everyone is doing the best they can, and you should expect nothing more than that of yourself. We’re all adjusting, and that also means offering that patience to the teachers and so on.
A little kindness to yourself, and to those around you can go a long way in improving the experience.
*Bonus: we’re all in this together. One positive takeaway at this time is that it’s an opportunity for increased awareness of our collective struggles. Before we judge ourselves or others, take a moment of patience. We just might find a little more understanding of what we’re going through, or what someone else might be dealing with at the moment. Perspective!
Taking breaks is essential, but I’ll add a couple of suggestions to this idea. First, is to schedule them as you schedule learning time. Ok, that’s obvious. Let’s get more into it.
Second, is to think more intently about how long those breaks are and what you’ll be doing during them. Too much stimulus isn’t a good thing. If you’re on the computer watching a teacher’s lecture, and then you break to watch Netflix for two hours there are a couple of problems you might face.
Breaks that are too long make it harder to return to class and studying and so on. Twenty minutes, thirty minutes, is usually good enough. Maybe throw in a longer break for lunch-time. Feel it out.
Also, breaks that aren’t breaks, that just involve more audio and visual stimulus might not be ideal either. Consider getting outside for a walk around the block… no phone. Or, walk while having a phone-call with your best friend. Again, feel it out.
*Bonus: find what works best for you. One of the bonuses that keeps popping up is the idea that students have this opportunity (in many cases) to learn what works best for them. With a little guidance (asking them questions), they can assess how they felt after that Netflix binge verses that walk around the neighborhood. Maybe Netflix is the answer for them, or it’s the walk. Perhaps it’s listening to music, meditating, yoga, running, playing the piano. This is a chance for them to learn balance and what balances them.
Easier said than done, I know. I’m sure you realized by my writing, or perhaps you know me personally, that I’m a positive guy! I’m a bright-side finder, opportunity seeker, lemonade maker kind of person.
I think it’s important to feel what you’re feeling, but to remain in any negative state for too long is a choice. When you’re depressed, it’s your choice to believe you’re alone and remain depressed—but it will feel real, which is why we shout and post and hold awareness events to show that you are not, because that’s how you get out. You start to believe something different. You can wait until the new idea slaps you in the face, or you can seek it.
Here’s an Example
You can’t play sports, let’s say. I honestly can’t imagine what it would feel like if my senior year of sports didn’t happen. It was huge for me—the captain of my soccer team, state champions with my lacrosse team. To not have that opportunity, and that experience is hard to imagine.
Now that you felt it, though, and you know there’s nothing you can do about it… it’s time to choose to find something positive to put your attention towards.
It’s like Olympians who have an accident and can no longer do the only thing they ever knew and loved. They find a way to get meaning back in their lives. Plenty of motivational videos and TED talks from them. Ask and I’ll find some!
Again, feel it, let yourself and others feel it, but help your students, help your kids (by being the role model) to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Understand their grief, allow them to emote and talk about it, and then together move one step towards that light.
I can’t believe this, but I’m about to bring up an example from Frozen 2! What has my wife done to me??? Lol. “The Next Right Thing.” Not my favorite song from the movie, but there’s a great message in it. A great scene all about moving forward out of the darkness one step at a time.
Here’s another post I did when this all started about some positive things I’ve noticed so far. In case you need a little more positivity : )
More Online Learning Tips
That’s just a few tips, and there are more. For instance, there are definitely ways (apps and programs) to limit what sites you can visit while you’re in study-time and things like that. I need to do a little research there to vet them, but if you’re interested, let me know and I’ll do that!
However, I’d like to hear from you and your experiences. What are your struggles, and what solutions have you found?
My point of view is different from yours as are our experiences through this time. So, in order to find better solutions for everyone, we need to share. I just ask you to do so with that patience I mentioned above.
Have a great week, everyone, and as the new school year approaches, I wish you all good luck! If you do want any help with tutoring, please check out my page there to learn about my service and to book a session.