Congratulations on your new job as an unpaid paraeducator! Here are tips for managing your virtual school from the semi-comfort of home.
Use dawn effectively. The early-morning hours before students wake up is prime time for adults to center their day. Pour coffee, unfold the newspaper and tell your spouse about the nightmare that woke you up at 3 a.m.: Rabid raccoons clawed your intestines as you fought to escape the house. If you have extra time, roll out your yoga mat so you can either exercise or lay on the ground and sob.
Wake-up strategies that work. Once you’ve woken up your children in plenty of time for them to attend their first Zoom lesson, check your email. Quickly sort through messages you don’t have time to answer, and then attempt to wake your children up again. Come back to your desk and hit that delete button. Nobody likes an inbox filled with spam. If your kids are still asleep, use the “freeze out” method. Yank the covers off and open the windows.
Study difficult subjects first. Which subject does your child struggle with most? Consider having them study their most challenging topic first thing in the morning, while they are fresh. You’ll be full of energy, too, which is why you’ll be able to help with school, unload the dishwasher, order groceries and pay bills all at the same time. When your student seems fully engrossed in learning, tackle the project you have due at work. You’ll be able to concentrate for five whole minutes before your child needs help again. Use those minutes wisely.
Turn lunchtime into family time. The pandemic’s silver lining is that families have more time to spend together, especially during meals. Gather ‘round the kitchen table for whatever you were able to scrape off the bottom of the refrigerator. When in doubt, add a limp carrot stick to the plate. Now that you’ve served vegetables, it might even be a USDA approved reimbursable meal.
Create a fresh learning environment. Video meetings are giving teachers, students and coworkers an inside glimpse into our homes. Be sure to put your best foot forward by dragging all of the dirty laundry out of view. If a bookshelf is in your child’s background, fill it with titles they’ve never read but which will make them seem smart.
Honor recess. The shortened virtual school schedule allows plenty of time for kids to recreate with other students inside their pandemic bubble — meaning their siblings. Provide sports equipment such as jump ropes and badminton rackets. Give important safety reminders like how rackets are for hitting birdies, not each other, and that jump ropes are meant for cardiovascular endurance as opposed to tying each other up.
School’s out — yay! Yes, you can complete your eight-hour workday in the 2 hours and 43 minutes before it’s time to make dinner. Wait, never mind. The groceries are ready to be picked up. Who’s ready for a field trip?
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.