We are into our fourth week of distance learning, and I am not going to lie, it has been a bit of a challenge. Seriously, I don’t think anyone is feeling like this new situation is great, but we are all doing the best we can and that is what is really important right now. For our family it hasn’t been the assignments or the curriculum that is killing us, we can get through all that, our biggest problem has been organization and finding a schedule that works for everyone —not something on a computer or phone… something tactile to keep everyone on top of things.
It’s hard to keep things straight when each kid has several zoom meetings and assignments due at different times and days. Middle school has been especially challenging since we are working with six teachers using different platforms and applications to assign work and set expectations. I am not complaining, well maybe a little, but I think every parent (and teacher) has the right to vent a bit. We have all been thrust into an uncertain and stressful situation, and we need to decompress from time to time or we will blow up. The thing for us all to keep in mind is that even though this situation sucks, we are all in it together. Well, together but no less than six feet apart.
Having kids with learning differences and special needs has led to some extra challenges. Both kids have special accommodations at school, and for obvious reasons these accommodations can’t happen at home. So, it has come to us to try to fill the gaps as best as we can. Kids with dyslexia and executive function disorder, as with many kids, do best when expectations and schedules are consistent and clearly organized. When the day starts to become chaotic, the whole family gets stressed out and flustered. In an attempt to keep our days organized and navigate this chaos, we have tried color coded schedules, alarms that pop up on the computer and phone, and have even tried using Alexa to alert us as to when a meeting is about to start. None of these have seemed to keep us organized and aware of what’s going on.
Thank goodness we have close family and friends who are teachers and who we can ask for help when we need it. It was my sister-in-law, Krista, currently quarantined teaching her own kids while also teaching her own first grade class, whom texted me this basic chart design that has worked for her and her two kids.
This chart has been a game-changer for us. Before we start the “school” time, I write all of the kids’ assignments and video-calls for the day on separate post-it-notes and stick them onto their individual charts. Everything starts in the “to-do” column. When they are working on that assignment we move it to the “in progress” column. Once they are done with that assignment, they then move that post-it-note to the “completed” column. Both having the kids clearly see what they have to do and having them physically move their notes from column-to-column affords them a way to visualize what needs to be done. Seeing everything finally moved to the “completed or done” column lets them know that they are done for the day and can focus on other fun activities.
I hope this chart helps you as much as it has helped us get organized during these unprecedented times. Have you found something that has worked for your family? We are all learning real-time and navigating this “new normal” together. As we figure things out I’ll happily share with you what has worked or what has simply just made us crazy — so you can learn from our success and failures. If you have ideas, I am all-ears.