Whether you were given the choice to have your child do virtual learning this fall, or it was a decision made for you by your particular school district, many of us moms find ourselves wondering how we will make this school year work with our kiddos learning at home. (Surely, many moms are struggling with working from home at the same time as helping their virtual learner at home, and to you, all these positives may be a bit more hidden or even non-existent. But I must say, hats off to all your working-from-home mommas! You are rockstars!) Only one of my children is school-age currently – a first grader. I really struggle, I’ll be honest, to find the positives of virtual learning.
My son is so incredibly social that I fear he is missing out greatly by staying home. What I didn’t realize is that there are actually so many awesome things about having him home and seeing him learn right in front of me! Some of the unexpected positives of virtual learning I have already seen in the past four weeks are…
1. Like I already alluded to, seeing my first grader actually work through problems and see his progression writing a story, for example, is something I would totally be missing out on if he wasn’t doing virtual learning here at home!
2. He is becoming even closer with his little brother. The bond they share is like no other. Just two and half years apart, they have always been best buddies – but this past 6 months their love has truly blossomed. Of course, there are squabbles and arguments, but they look to each other for help and are so kind to each other most of the time!
3. I feel so much closer to his classmates and his teacher. With traditional school learning, I never got to know his friends well at all. With the live sessions, they have this year with virtual learning, I can hear their voices and see their faces and how much my son loves to see and hear his friends every day.
4. During live sessions with his teacher, I can listen in and see how she teaches them to go about reading a short story or how best to begin writing a personal narrative. This, in turn, also teaches me! This way I can better support my son in his learning, especially since after the live session is over, he often has questions and I then know how best to answer them and go along with the same line of thinking as his teacher.
5. He is able to regulate his needs a bit more than he is able to at school. In a traditional in-person school environment, it is very much a set schedule that the kids have to abide to: first math, then social studies, then snack, then recess, etc. At home, my son can determine when he needs a break from his virtual activities and needs to go outside and run around. We still have to work around the live sessions with his teacher/classmates that are scheduled, but other than those the schedule is very flexible.
6. One of the best positives of virtual learning is that my younger son is learning, too! The teachers often have posts of them or other adults reading children’s books and my son always calls in his younger brother whenever there is a read-aloud, so he can listen in also. It’s such a sweet thing for them to share together and it makes my younger son feel included, too.
7. My husband and I take turns helping him develop his skills for the “specials” – that is what our district calls art, music, gym, etc. Neither my husband nor I are artistic, but we do our best helping with the art assignments his art teacher posts online. I enjoy playing piano, so I am taking on piano lessons with him to be an adjunct to his music lessons weekly. My husband loves throwing a ball and frisbee, playing basketball and golf, so he is taking on helping our son with extra “gym” assignments. We have found these times to be very special, and are unsure if we would make such a point to do these things if he wasn’t at home doing virtual learning.
8. This one isn’t quite “unexpected” but I have to list it as it is so awesome! We get to sleep in later! My son’s bus last year came a full HOUR prior to school start time. That meant getting up at around 6:20 AM. I remember begging my son to get out of bed on many mornings and then rushing him to eat as fast as he can, brush quick, and run to the bus stop. Now he can sleep until 7:00 or even 7:15 and still get dressed, eat breakfast slowly, and brush his teeth all before his first morning activity at 8:00!
I’m sure I’ve missed even more positives of virtual learning—there really are so many when you begin looking at it with a more positive attitude. And, yes, without a doubt, we are missing all the benefits of in-person school. But I know focusing on what we’re missing out on won’t help us manage where we’re currently at. More than anything, I do know this (and have already seen it working in action the past month), that if I have a positive attitude about this new way of “doing school,” so does my son. If I “go with the flow,” so does he. When we, as mothers, begin to see and focus on all these unexpected positives about this new adventure and show our children it can be fun to do things differently—they begin to feel the same way, too.
You might also appreciate: Self-care is still important in a crisis.