• The Positive Professional

"Suddenly Homeschooling" Survival Guide for Parents

If you are reading this during the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020, then you are likely full of anxious feelings right about now. At the very least, you're probably worrying that your children or other family members may have been exposed to a potentially deadly virus. Maybe you've caught what you think is a little cold or a stomach bug… but you're not quite sure, and that's creating some uncomfortable feelings. Even if you're not fully convinced that Coronavirus is an extremely serious concern, at the very least you're trapped in your home for most of the day, all day, every day. And if you have kids, then you're been tasked with the seemingly impossible. Out of nowhere, you're expected to become a stand-in school teacher. Of course, not only is the sudden responsibility of having to teach your children from home bearing down upon you but you also likely have been sent home from your actual job indefinitely. You may have been laid off, or perhaps your pay was suspended. Another possibility is that you own your own business, either at a physical location or in the form of an eCommerce or service-based website. This puts some pretty serious pressure on to suddenly morph into a "do and be everything" type of miracle-working human. Being home with your restless children, waiting for the next terrifying news update, wondering how you'll manage to keep your pantry stocked with fresh food and toilet paper without exposing your family to deadly germs, and trying to keep your house as clean as possible to avoid viral contamination, have likely taken their toll on your mental health. The bad news is that the virtual classroom that has spontaneously taken shape under the direction of your child or children's teacher, who is also scared and fumbling their way around the unfamiliar ground, appears to be the way of life for the majority of us for the next who-knows-how-long. Even worse, there are reports that as Coronavirus remains a growing threat to our health, we may be forced to make our role as homeschooling parents the norm through the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

Tips for Supporting Your Child's Teacher During Virtual School Sessions With the entire planet is on edge as a result of the recent Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent orders to remain at home, you may be wondering how to suddenly morph into a home school parent/caregiver success story of the year. The truth of the matter is that being thrown into a homeschooling situation is going to take more than a little bit of adjustment. First, just because you may have a good recollection of academia and excelled at school as a child yourself, does not mean that you have the patience or wherewithal to begin teaching your kids from home and doing an exceptional job at it. Even if you feel like your teaching skills can use a bit of finessing, it's certainly possible to pick up some pointers and tips from education experts, child psychologists, homeschooling experts, and anyone who has experience in this area. Here are some tips for easing into the role of a homeschooling parent so you can help your children make the transition to virtual learning.

Establish a set schedule and stick with it. Some parents and kids might be thinking that with school being out for several weeks at minimum and a good chance of it not being back in session for the remainder of the year, summer vacation's "no routine is a good routine" can go into effect. This is possibly the worst thing you can do for your children, your family, and most of all, your sanity. Without structure and order in their daily lives, your kids (and you) can quickly become mentally restless, emotionally unhinged, and set on a path to avoidance and procrastination -- also endless anxiety and family fights. Your job as a school teacher in training then becomes a slippery slope situation. Setting and sticking to a daily school-at-home schedule is one of the best things you can do for your children. The traditional school day as we know it breaks up into various segments and a variety of activities for kids to rotate through as the week proceeds. Starting the day at a reasonable morning hour gives your child a head-start on school work with time for physical activity, cultivating interests, screen time, and imaginative play for the rest of their waking hours. This ensures a good balance of activities to exercise different parts of the brain and engage both the mind and body. Check-in frequently with teachers. At a minimum, parents should be logging on at least once in the morning to get the heads up from their child or children's teacher(s). It will be helpful to know what type and quantity of work your child will be expected to complete and what the timeline may be for various assignments and projects. How often you engage in addition to the daily check-in might depend on the type(s) of students you're instructing as well as the personality and preference of your children's actual school teachers who are teaching them remotely. In addition to being on top of your child's schoolwork agenda, you might also want to keep in touch with the teacher just to offer some moral support. Many school teachers are making the shift into virtual learning for the first time. They may be struggling at home just as you are, trying to balance family life with keeping on top of their professional priorities, which is to continue educating our kids despite this sudden and strikingly different change in format. Some teachers may even feel self-conscious about talking and been seen on video or having the added pressure of working the technology while simultaneously instructing the children. Abide by the teacher's remote schedule. Your child's teacher may decide to host a morning meeting or do a bi-weekly check-in. They might request that the children log on and test out the chosen tech tools before a particular meeting or lesson is held on a certain platform. Many teachers are asking their students to arrive at their virtual meetings with prepared materials to go over and review. And they are also hosting fun and engaging activities to help kids maintain a positive attitude about their education.

Attend to your children's details. The level of attention that school children may be receiving might vary depending on each teacher and a unique situation during this trying time. After a tough school year where children were forced to work from home, your child's teacher could end up being extra sympathetic during extenuating circumstances. Have kids proofread their work several times before handing in assignments. If your children's tests are returned with corrections made by the teacher, go over where they may have made errors and try to help them understand why the mistake happened and how they might avoid making the same error next time.

Organize Your Home School Space for Success One tricky aspect of suddenly turning your home into a makeshift learning environment for at-home schooling is that space may not be conducive to this type of learning. You likely have central areas of the home with people coming and going throughout the day. Family members may be engaging in disruptive activities such as having out-loud phone conversations or watching movies and online videos. Parents are likely anxious to hear the most recent news updates in the ongoing emergency situation, keeping the television news stations blaring for a good part of the day. Another difficult aspect of teaching at home is that kids may be surrounded by temptation that prevents them from focusing. If your at-home students make a habit of doing schoolwork and studying in their rooms, this may seem ideal as they're quiet, out of your way, and presumably focusing on their studies. However, in their bedrooms, they may be surrounded by temptation such as easy access to online games, messenger programs, and other distractions. Still yet another challenge that homeschooling parents may face is that your kids might spend most of their day playing with each other rather than attending to their studies. For this reason, many teachers are now conducting morning meetings in the hope of setting a serious and studious tone for the rest of their students' day. Here are some tips for transforming your home into a healthy and productive learning environment: Turn extra space into a classroom. If you've got available room in your home, transform that space into a temporary learning environment. You can set up a folding table and chairs in a central location such as a finished basement or downstairs den of your split-level home. If you don't have space to spare, consider making each child's room into a classroom, by moving a computer desk and or creative workspace there. Relocate gaming and entertainment systems. If tech-based forms of entertainment prove to be an ongoing distraction for your family, one way to better manage this is by creating a central location where family members can gather during relaxation and "play" time. During weekday mornings and afternoons when "home school" is in session, you can have kids go to their learning area either in their room or in a makeshift "classroom" area of your home. Don't forget the physical education class. Your at-home exercise room can become a daily place to help kids work off stress and anxiety while helping them build strength and exercise their muscles. If you have an area of your home where you store a few pieces of exercise equipment such as an exercise bike, stair master or elliptical machine, now is the time to dust those off and get your kids utilizing the machines for their own level of fitness and for the sanity of all. Another option is to gather up all of your existing sports equipment such as bikes, balls, bats, skateboards, basketball hoops, etc. and have your kids pick the sport of their choice to play outside at a specific time of day and for a minimum of 3 days of their 5-day school week. The more exercise everyone gets, the less stressed and anxious they are likely to be. Break out the art supplies. Cooped-up kids need a creative outlet, and that's where your at-home arts and crafts hour will come in handy. Put your inspired art students to work organizing their own art and craft supplies, then have them select a project to focus on for the week. Giving them freedom of choice in what types of art projects they pursue, such as painting, drawing, woodworking, or doing handicrafts, will help them to feel like they have at least some level of autonomy during what may feel like a very restrictive situation.

E-Learning is Great, But Make Time for Breaks

If you are at home with your children during the Coronavirus outbreak and navigating through the e-learning format, you will likely have some questions and feel a bit nervous as to whether you're doing everything right.

For many students, teachers were amazingly able to roll out an online version of their daily school assignments in a relatively short amount of time. This is impressive… but we should also be aware that the sudden pressure to live out the school day attached to computer screens can have some unintended consequences. As much as today's kids seem amenable to the online learning experience, they also may run into their share of challenges. Here's how to navigate through that, keep kids learning, and retain your sanity in the process. On the plus side, like all of us, kids really take to the computers. They generally do not seem to mind logging in and in fact appear to enjoy typing, sending text messages, as well as creating and watching videos online. Of course, there are exceptions. But generally, the computer is seen as a positive thing by most students. This makes e-learning at home much easier to adapt to than would otherwise be the case. The negative aspect of this is that it is known that computers are highly addicting. As much as your child likely enjoys excelling at computer math games and clicking through a series of questions and answers online, he or she is likely to become anxious, scattered, and even emotional after too much time spent seated in one spot, looking at a computer screen. The frustration, also, of making sure the technology is functioning correctly and that the student is able to follow links and type in passwords correctly to arrive at the correct remote location where their class is held or their assignments are stored, can also increase anxiety, both in students and in parents. When you're already short on patience and wondering how you'll manage to complete your own work, the struggle over computer use can be confounding, to say the least. Yet another source of difficulty comes from the student having to ask for help and then dealing with hovering parents who may want to take over control of the mouse, or vice versa. Two people sharing a computer trying to troubleshoot a technical problem often leads to higher levels of tension and frustration. Below find a list of simple tips to remember as you and your family adapt to this new learning format during the Coronavirus outbreak. Take a break from the computer every 35 minutes or so. If your child is involved in an online meeting for school, you may go over this amount of time, which is understandable. In that case, give your children a break as soon as the opportunity comes. A good rule of thumb would be to let kids stand up, stretch, and move around a bit after logging off from their virtual learning station post-meeting. Strive for good ergonomics. We can't always control how our children prefer to sit at their iPads, laptops, or desktop computers. Being stuck in the house all day with nothing but virtual friends to connect with and virtual assignments to complete might have your child searching for the ideal spot and position to curl up in during screen time. However, it's a good idea for each child in your household to have his or her own small desk or table where they can sit as comfortably as possible while typing and looking at the screen. Your children are growing at a rapid pace. For this reason, it's important to maintain a correct posture when possible. Give the eyes a rest. As a result of increased computer use, more and more children are developing a condition called strabismus or lazy eye, where the eyes don't focus in concert. This happens when the brain begins to favor vision in one eye over the other. Too much screen time can exacerbate the problem, and kids don't have to be born with this condition to develop it. Additionally, your child may experience headaches, blurred vision, and burning or tearing eyes as a result of too much computer use. It's important to get up for breaks, rest the eyes, and focus on objects at different distances, throughout your day when working at a computer. Make time for exercise. Another side effect of too much time spent seated at a computer is muscle atrophy. Poor posture, low muscle tone, and lack of blood flow to the extremities are all side effects of remaining seated at a computer for most of the day. We see these in-office workers, and with children becoming more attached to computers for schoolwork, it's now becoming a problem for them as well. You'll be doing your kids a tremendous favor by providing them an exercise outlet that gets them away from the screen, moving their bodies and burning off energy. Emotional regulation, too, can become an issue for pent-up kids who spend their days attached to computers, phones, and video games. Again, the best thing you can give your kids to help survive the e-learning environment and channel stress in a positive way is opportunities to get outside, run, play, and move. If it's raining, set up an indoor play space with exercise balls, light free weights, hula hoops, and other fun activities to get them moving.

Virtual School is in Session: Make Yours a Crash Course in Life Skills Too With the Coronavirus reports growing in severity, frequency, and intensity, you may find yourself at near wit's end trying to balance working from home with getting kids to do all of their homework without trying to kill each other. As social media reports suggest, parents are starting to become unhinged, what with all of the social isolation and too much time spent under the same roof with a gaggle of restless kids underfoot. One opportunity that you can take during this stress-filled time in our lives is to get kids caught up on life skill proficiency. Like most of us living in the digital age, it is likely that you haven't gone especially out of your way to teach your children how to survive on their own in terms of being self-sufficient around the house. Think back to when you were a child. Do you remember your mom suggesting that you do chores at home? Were you given a weekly allowance as an incentive to help out more around the house? If you have failed to set up a system like this one and are tired of dealing with the endless cleaning and clearing out of spaces in your home, then the at-home orders given by health and government officials will be the perfect incentive to get going on a crash course in life skills 101 for your kids. Please note that your child's ability will vary depending on his or her age, personal development, fitness level, and overall aptitude. If your child or children don’t seem able to manage a certain chore, you can always offer them a modified version or an opportunity to do something that is better suited to their willingness and abilities. Below find some great ideas for what life skills to teach kids who are learning from home. Basic cooking and serving skills. In terms of using the stove, apply your own careful discretion. For kids who seem ready, you can take them through the process of how to make a sandwich, how to put together a dinner salad, or how to prepare toast. You can team up on baking projects or make morning pancakes together. Don't forget to hang back and let your kids do everything step by step. Taking over where your children fall short only enables them rather than helping them cultivate needed skills. Dusting and polishing furniture. Every mom's least favorite chore can become an easy way for your kids to collect a few dollars' allowance. Grab an old sock or a dust rag and your furniture polish… or mix up a homemade cleaning recipe that you find online. Put kids to work dusting furniture, knick-knacks, and picture frames. Washing and folding laundry. Laundry management is one of the simplest and most helpful tasks to enlist your children in doing. Plus, it will help immensely to have this tedious chore managed by someone other than you. You don't even have to be picky about how the clothes are folded. Just a few simple lessons for kids in how to sort by item, match socks, and fold to fit into the drawer can greatly reduce your laundry to-do list. Littles can match and roll socks. Older kids can fill and run the washer and dryer. Soon enough, you're on your way to having some capable laundry doers, either during a panic-inducing pandemic or just on an ordinary day. Wiping surfaces. Now more than ever it's important to keep all contact surfaces of your home clean of dirt and debris, and germ-free. Even the smallest kids can help, and will even have fun, spraying and wiping table tops with disinfectant. You can use a soap and water solution, or combine vinegar and water with essential oils for a fresh, clean scent. If you use commercial cleaners, just have your kids don rubber gloves to avoid having skin contact with these substances. Cleaning bathrooms. The bathroom is definitely a frequently used room of your home that needs daily disinfecting. Because it's such a damp room where gross things happen, this is one of the more likely areas where germs are likely to spread. Keep homeschooled kids busy - teach them the basics of wiping down the sink and tub, swishing the toilet with a disinfectant cleaner, and Windexing the mirror. Don't forget to have your kids dispose of wipe rags properly, and thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water after cleaning the bathroom. Vacuuming. Enlist older kids to help you push the vacuum around once or twice per week at a minimum. Have them instruct younger brothers and sisters to pitch in by making sure that no stray items are left on the carpet which could result in a broken vacuum belt. For deeper cleaning and to remove pet odors from the rugs, let kids lightly sprinkle your carpets with baking soda. Then get the younger ones to walk and stomp all over the carpet to grind in the cleaning soda. Let it sit for an hour or two so the baking soda can do its job of absorbing odors. Finally, have your big kids vacuum the rugs for a cleaner, fresher home. Taking out the garbage and recycling. One relatively easy task that is often best left to the preteens and teens of the family is managing garbage and recycling. Instruct your children on the night before garbage pickup is due in the morning, to go around and collect trash from all of the bedroom and bathroom garbage pails, and transfer those smaller bags into the larger bag of garbage that's in the kitchen. Have them take all to the outside trash receptacle and then follow by removing and relocating any recyclables to the outside recycling bin.

Combine Learning and Play in Your Home School Day Are you one of the many parents who are struggling to keep your kids under control, happy, and schooled during the Coronavirus outbreak of 2020? Your frustration levels may be reaching an all-time high right now, but rest assured. The entire world is with you and feels your struggle. One of the most important components of a well-rounded education and a balanced school day is play. Yes - even the most sophisticated educational games in the world won't replace the cognitive and social skills gained by engaging in free play. Parents today may feel pressured to provide the best and most proven methods of educating their children. Rest assured, your kids are just as happy, maybe even more so, playing in a big empty refrigerator box as they are using state-of-the-art learning materials designed by academic experts. So let's talk about some simple ways that you can combine learning with play in your child's daily life as a temporarily home schooled kid following the health officials' order to remain at home during the Coronavirus pandemic. Here are some ideas: Trace Against the Window Here's a quick little project to calm and center anxious kids, or pass the time on another dull day stuck at home! Trace artwork against a windowpane. Supplies needed: Any book cover, photo, magazine page, or other picture that your child might enjoy tracing and coloring. It could be a photo of a person, creature, flower, cartoon character, or anything he or she would enjoy working on. Pencil for tracing Tracing paper or plain white paper if you don't have tracing paper Assorted markers and crayons to add color to the project Masking tape Instructions: Have the child choose a picture page that he or she would like to trace and color. Use the masking tape to attach the picture to the window pane. Tape a sheet of tracing paper or plain white paper to the picture. Press against the paper with your hand to see how the image appears as a result of the light shining through from behind. Have the child use the pencil to trace an outline of the picture. The more detailed the image, the more fun he or she can have duplicating the picture to perfection. When finished, gently peel the masking tape away from the paper and remove it from the wall. Have your child sit at a table or desk and complete his or her artwork project by using markers and crayons to outline and color in the drawing any way he or she may like. Have your child sign his or her name to the finished work. Add to a photo frame or just tape to the wall for everyone to admire. Open a Kid-Run Family Restaurant Disappointed at not being able to enjoy an evening out at a restaurant with your family? Kids can create the dining-out experience from the comfort of home. From meal planning to draw and/or print your menu, to choosing a name for your family restaurant, to having kids cook, serve, and clear the table… there is no limit to the fun you'll have. Supplies needed: Simple dinner plans like burgers and salad, grilled cheese and canned soup, breakfast for dinner, or something easy that kids would be able to either cook on their own or assist you with making, depending on their age and proficiency in the kitchen. Table cloth Plates, cups, and flatware Napkins Paper, pencils, markers and crayons to hand-draw and write up a menu Instructions: Start by brainstorming a family restaurant name. No need to make a huge task of this. Just spend maybe 10 to 15 minutes kicking around ideas. Have family members vote on the name of your restaurant. Let kids write up and design menus. Assign each child a "job." Older kids could be in charge of cooking, if applicable. (Parents can oversee the cooking if kids are still too little.) Younger children can wipe off the table, put the table cloth on, set out plates and silverware, etc., with assistance as needed. Have the "server" pass out menus, then take everyone's orders and bring to the kitchen where kids can help put the meal(s) together. Lunch might be a good meal to design a menu around. It will be easy for kids to offer simple choices like peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cold cuts on bread, salad, or soup if kids are old enough to cook on the stovetop or heat up soup in the microwave. You can also just have kids take orders for, set the table, and serve a regular dinner that you cook yourself - so they don't do too much damage to the kitchen! The Classic "Pioneer" Game Spark kids' creativity and role-play skills by engaging them in a "Little House on the Prairie-esque" game of living in the days of American pioneers. With the help of imagination, a bedroom can morph into a one-room log cabin with a fireplace and potbelly cook stove. Stuffed animals can become farm animals, and the staircase might morph into a mountain to climb up and down.

Play Dress-Up Got dress-up clothes? Drag out your old nightgowns, fancy shoes, and any costume that might be living in your attic or other storage areas. Boys can raid Dad's closet for old hats, sunglasses, sports memorabilia, or a uniform or two. The fun, role-play games that kids naturally took to in the 1980s needn't be a thing of yesteryear. Lots of potential playtime is living right in your house, all you have to do is take a look around for ideas. Set Up a Grocery Store Game Don't break down those recyclables just yet! There's a potential kid-friendly grocery store living right in your kitchen bin. Grab some plastic and paper bags, break out your old calculator or adding machine relic if you still have one around. Let kids set up their own grocery store in the playroom. They can even add price tags and use real coins for payment. A business and math lesson all in one! Have Kids Launch a Home Cleaning Business If your kids aren't quite responsive to your repeated requests for them to clean the house, turn it into a game and they might just change their tune. Have them print out business signs, list their pricing, gather cleaning supplies, and don aprons if they like. Pretty soon your merry maids will be learning about small business as they de-clutter, clean, and shine your home to spic and span. Ask Kids to Design and Illustrate Spelling Flash Cards This game does double duty as preschool learning and teaching all in one. If you have kids of all ages that you're trying to keep occupied during the government stay-home order, you might try offloading some of the teaching to the other ones, who will likely enjoy it. Grab some plain white card stock from Wal-Mart or Target, along with a package of colored markers. Ask your older kids to come up with a list of simple words to teach little ones how to spell. Examples could be Dog, Cat, Stop, No, Hello, Car, Run, and so forth. Have them neatly print each word on a card, and draw and color a picture to match the word. When finished, they can turn this into a spelling lesson for little ones. Brilliant! Open a Kid-Run Medical Center One really smart way to help kids become aware of health-related concerns without growing fearful in the process is to get them to play-act the roles of doctor, nurse, and patient. You probably have an old playset lying around that has a toy thermometer, band-aid, and other medical-related accessories. If not, you can always improvise. For example, a tightly rolled up and taped sheet of construction paper could become a thermometer. Your kids can draw and cut out homemade band-aids to keep in place with tape. Run a Fitness Center What child doesn't get a kick out of pedaling the stationary bike, running on a treadmill, and using their muscles to lift 3 or 5-lb. barbells. When you turn your fitness room of the house into a kid-owned gym, you take exercise to a new and exciting level. Your kids can alternate roles such as person working the gym desk, personal trainer spotting others, and exercise instructor leading a yoga, hula-hooping or other exercise class. Kids honestly love these types of role playing games because they get to engage in a way that computers just can't offer.

How to Cope with Waning Attention Spans While Teaching Kids at Home By far the biggest challenge that parents are facing during the coronavirus crisis of 2020 is that they are expected to successfully home school their children while balancing their own work from home computers. A quick log onto social media (don't do it) and you'll likely see parents proverbially pulling their hair out over the inability to get kids to stop playing with their siblings, fighting, whining or procrastinating so they can buckle down and get their school work completed in a timely fashion. It may seem counterproductive, but believe it or not, the best way to get kids to focus on school work is by NOT forcing them to constantly do school work. It has long been established that the human brain does best with focusing on tasks for about 35 minutes at a time. After this, it is important to take a break in order to retain the optimum level of concentration. If your child seems unable to concentrate, there may be any one of a number of reasons as to why this is happening. Run through the below checklist before throwing up your hands in despair. Your child can't concentrate on schoolwork… what's wrong? The child did not get enough sleep. If kids aren't going to bed early enough it can be because bedtime isn't being enforced properly. Maybe your child settles down to sleep at 10 pm when the ideal time is 8:30. Age factors in here. If your child can't seem to wind down for bed it could be that he or she is not getting enough exercise during the day. Increase physical activity, including indoor and outdoor sports and physical exercise. The child may be hungry. If breakfast was something small like half a bagel and no protein, your child's brain may need a boost of fuel. Offer a protein-rich snack, like nuts and fruit, or cheese and crackers. Is it lunch time? Take a break from schoolwork and sit the family down for a proper sandwich. The child ate too much sweets and didn't burn it off. Sometimes the solution is right in front of us but we can't see it. Kids on candy overload? Send them outside to play and work off that sugar. Come back for a protein snack and settle back into the school day. There doesn't have to be a reason why children should go outside and burn off excess energy every day. It's just a fact of life. Host gym class earlier in the day and see if this helps improve concentration levels in kids. Too much screen time. Kids need to stretch and move their bodies. Being on the computer for too long produces an unhealthy amount of restless energy. Did you know that the body goes into fight or flight mode, producing excess cortisol, during the online experience, with all of the constant alerts and pressing of keys for a needed result? If your children can't settle down to do schoolwork, get them outside and away from the computers and online games. Return and try again in a half-hour. A child needs human connection. The social distancing rule is taking its toll on everyone, kids especially. If your children seem to be emotionally affected, permit them an outlet for their feelings and remember to be patient. Find ways to connect with friends, whether it's sending a funny email, calling up Grandma, doing a video chat with school mates, Face Timing friends and family on the iPhone or waving at the neighbors or people at the park from more than 10 feet away.

Home School Success for Kids With Learning Challenges Children with learning challenges may find the e-learning environment to be especially difficult. With the Coronavirus pandemic raising stress levels, on the whole, your best bet if dealing with kids who have a learning challenge is to be patient and try to reflect a calm demeanor. Below find some basic coping skills to help you get through this trying time as a homeschooling parent. Don't let your learning challenged kid fall under the radar. If your child was previously enrolled in a special program to help facilitate learning and move past difficult areas, you will want to initiate contact with teachers to be sure that the level of attention offered will continue. Reach out to teachers to make sure that the curriculum will support your child's individual education program (IEP). Stay on top of the situation. Kids who are challenged academically may have trouble keeping up with their assigned tasks. This might means parents checking in daily via email to be sure the child is caught up with all work that is due, then following up after each assignment to be sure that all work was turned in on time and completed. Offer lots of exercise and fresh air. Every child needs playtime and outdoor time to work off energy so they can focus on school. But with kids who have trouble learning, this is especially important. If your child seems to be getting frustrated over schoolwork, don't force the issue. Instead, offer a play break and a healthy snack. Return to the assignment after 30 minutes to an hour, and see if concentrate improves. Be flexible in how your child learns. Each person is different and not everyone takes to the traditional academic format. As frustrated as you might be during this challenging time of a global pandemic, working one on one with your child might bring about opportunities to learn in a different and exciting new way.

Tech Must-Haves to Ensure Kids' Safety Online while Virtual Learning It is critically important to provide a secure online computing experience to your child, not just in regular online activities, but especially now that the schools have turned to a virtual learning format to help reduce contact with others and attempt to prevent the spread of disease. Just as we take special precautions to try and avoid real viruses, we should also pay special attention to our computing methods so as to avoid computer viruses. Why is this important? Computer viruses are programs that "open a door" and allow hackers and thieves back door entry to your information. How do viruses get onto your computer? A computer programmer creates a virus in the form of a .exe file which means executable. The executable file may download onto your computer via an image file or a link from a web page. Why do hackers send viruses to our computers? Hackers want to connect to your computer either to access bank account login details for the purpose of theft or because they may be child predators. Other reasons people hack computers are less nefarious. Some just want to scare people or play jokes. Ways that viruses can be downloaded onto your computer: Clicking a link that leads to a malicious website Hackers using chat and instant messenger programs to transmit files Emails that ask you to click a link or that download executable files via an image. Ways to prevent viruses from getting to your computer: Set your email so that images do not appear unless you specify within the email after verifying that this is a safe sender. Get firewall protection and keep it updated. Install a good antivirus program. Many antivirus programs now offer a basic free version, plus enhanced services such as antivirus, firewall protection, malware, and adware removal all in one. You can pay to bundle these services together, as it will save you much time as opposed to maintaining individual free versions of all these features. How should I set up my child's computer for safety and security? Below find some procedures to put into place as your child becomes accustomed to the new and semi-permanent e-learning format. Settle on a reliable form of virtual storage. It is presumed that your child's school work will be uploaded to the school's private computer server. However, any other files that you may be keeping that do not relate to school should be uploaded to a remote storage program or cloud server. If you choose remote storage, such as DropBox, for example, you'll be able to save files only. So if your computer gets a virus, you'll have the files saved BUT you'll have to start from square 1 with reinstalling any programs you use and reconfiguring any preferences for working in a specific program. This could take hours or even days of your time. With a cloud server, you get to store everything including desktop settings, programs, and files. Keep a clean machine. If a virus does get onto your computer despite your putting all of the necessary precautions into place, the fastest way to return your computer to virus-free, normal working order is by reinstalling the operating system. You will need the original operating disk that came with your machine in order to do this. When you reinstall the operating system, any virus that might have made its way to your system will be wiped out. But unfortunately, so will all of the programs, applications you have installed, and all of the files you have saved including images, videos, and word processing files will be erased, too. This is why it's critical to store your data either on a remote storage device or on a cloud server that you pay for. No matter how diligent you are at keeping your child's computer protected, there are always some risks when it comes to being connected with the online world. Anything that has "multiple entry points" poses a risk. Any app or program that connects your child with other people online, whether it's social media, chat rooms, gamers connecting with each other, or people commenting on videos and social posts, poses a risk. Your child's computer use that is necessary for school should be kept separate from any personal and social computer use, including messaging and sending emails back and forth with family and friends. Your child's school should have a strong security protocol in place on their secure server and the best way to keep it that way is to keep school matters related to school associates only.

Connecting Meaningfully, Yet Keeping Social Distance Losing your mind over Coronavirus? Afraid to leave the house? How do we manage to connect meaningfully with friends and family during a quarantine period when people are forced to stay at home and avoid close contact? Even without a social distancing order, it's become increasingly difficult to foster close connections with so much impulsive activity on social media. Honestly, having access to Facebook and text messaging has ironically divided us instead of bringing people together. This is because we speak to each other on the fly, while multi-tasking, without following up, and in a very haphazard way. The person on the other end of your communication ends up feeling misunderstood and taken for granted, or forgotten in the shuffle. Can we take this time out to correct our sloppy communication and connect more meaningfully? Of course, we can. Below find a few ideas for deepening your human connection despite the distance. Write a letter. When was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter that shared your thoughts and feelings, relayed precious memories, reflected on a situation, and really let the person on the other end know that you care deeply about them and value their friendship? A handwritten letter will be a welcome surprise to a long-lost friend… and even if you choose email over picking up a pen and paper, it still will be a wonderful thing for the person on the receiving end to read what you shared. Talk to one person at a time instead of 200. One reason why social media feels so disconnected is that we generally throw out an idea or a thought and wait for a bite from anyone who happens to be there. But what if you were longing to talk to one special person who really gets you -- an old friend, your spouse/partner or your bestie? Your special person won't feel very special unless you choose to connect with them. So forget making that public announcement, and instead share how you feel with just one person. Pick up the phone. Have you fallen out of the habit of giving mom or dad a call? Maybe you've just been so busy running around from here to there, doing all The Things. Now that nobody is allowed to run around anymore, which people top your list of voices you'd like to hear on the other end of the line? Pick up your cell phone and give that person a chance to hear your voice and your stories. Get some conversational and storytelling practice in - Lord knows, we were all getting rusty! Make a collage of memories. Your family, thrown together under one roof by extreme circumstances, might be fighting like cats and dogs but you might also be bonding - deeply so. If shared activities like taking nature walks, doing DIY projects, cooking food and making art are bringing your loved ones together like never before, then why not document it by taking pictures and then making a wonderful collage of memories. While other people might be focusing on the fear and uncertainty of the times, you can look back on the government quarantine as a blessed moment when you felt truly happy, connected, and loving toward those who are most important in your life. Written by


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