Prep for virtual school this year was no easy task but I really feel like it made the transition to this new way of learning for my kids, much better. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases through your clicks.
I’m gonna jump right into a few ways that we prepared for our Kindergartner and 7th grader to start virtual school. Plus, offer a few tips and things to think about for those that haven’t quite reached this point yet. There’s too much info to cram into this 1 post so I’ll be sharing more tips over the next few weeks.
Prep For Virtual School – Our Learning Space
I chose the dining room as our learning space. Because I also work from this area, I thought it would be the perfect place to set up their school calendars and supplies. There’s already a printer close by as well as our Google home device, just in case they’d need it for quick questions.
This area has plenty of outlets to charge their laptops and the dining room table gives us a better view so we can monitor their progress. It also gives the kids enough space to write, draw, or use their laptops throughout the day.
To help stay organized, I bought this magnetic dry erase calendar to keep track of both kids’ school schedules, meetings, and IEP info. Of course, I had to keep my stylish theme of gold accents going, so when we’re not working, the dining area can still look like a dining room.
Next, I set up this basket underneath our calendar to hold important papers, folders, supplies, and an extra dry erase board.
In the middle of the dining table, I created these school supply centerpieces using acrylic beauty organizers, for both fun and function. That way, they have everything they need right within arm’s length.
Tip: Try to set a designated learning space that doesn’t change from day to day. This could be at a desk, table, or even a favorite comfy spot with a lap desk.
Technology Prep and Set-Up
Thank goodness our school district and city worked together to come up with a plan to provide laptops and hotspots for the kids, via funds from the Federal CARES Act. Because of that, both kids have their own computers and an internet hotspot to use to get their work done this year.
After picking up their computers, I spent about an hour making sure that the hotspot worked and was fully charged. Then, I made sure to log into both computers and get them set up to make sure the kids could get online and log into all of their necessary websites.
Tip: Keep important login information & tech support info readily available. One way to do this is by using inexpensive clear plastic folders with each child’s information. That way you can grab it for a quick view when needed.
As expected, we ran into a couple of tech issues on the first day of school. The district’s servers became overloaded and there were problems with the firewall. That meant a few hours of downtime for one kid while the other one was able to work perfectly fine.
That’s why I’m so glad that we made plans to prep for virtual school instead of waiting until the last minute. I saw so many parents freaking out on the first day over tech issues because they didn’t do a trial run.
When all of this was going on we were able to relax and breathe knowing that the issues would soon be resolved and we’d be all ready to go, without having to call their schools or tech support.
Tip: Be proactive. Take the time to do a trial run of setting up wifi and logging into ALL necessary websites or programs. Doing this can save you so much time and aggravation.
School Schedules, Lunches, And All That Jazz
Our kid’s personalized school schedules didn’t become available until their 1st day of school. However, our school district did provide parents with a general schedule to give us a heads up on what a typical virtual school day would look like.
Tip: To help stay organized, use a calendar to jot down important meetings, breaks, and odd schedule changes that may be hard to remember.
This helped us to see instances where we may have blocks of time outside of live learning. That way, we could mold our kid’s school days to work better with our family as a whole.
Because their schedules had set times for live learning vs. asynchronous learning (time on their own), it allowed me a way to figure out where we had flexibility for things like free time or tutoring.
I have my kids sit at opposite ends of the table to eliminate a lot of talking and horseplay.
Our district provides daily breakfast (free to all students) and lunch (free, reduced, or paid in full).
To prep for lunch pickups, I filled out the application for free or reduced lunch about a week ahead of their first day. It took no more than 10 minutes to complete the application for both kids.
Tip: Here’s the FEDERAL FREE OR REDUCED LUNCH APPLICATION if you haven’t applied already. You’d be surprised at how many families qualify! So, don’t overlook this. Check the guidelines for your family size and income.
The first family matters I took care of were making sure that both kids were up to date on their yearly health physicals and immunizations. My daughter had to get 3 shots this year to prepare for Kindergarten enrollment.
Double-check their enrollment to make sure everything is in order. I’ve heard so many stories of kids being switched to different schools or incomplete paperwork due to administrative error.
Tip: Have the tough discussions NOW with your spouse, partner or caregiver, etc. about sharing the load and designating responsibilities. If you don’t have support, reach out to your school or a parent group for resources.
Next, I took about 1/2 hour and planned out bedtimes, a chore list, and morning routines.
I’ll go deeper into meal prep in a later post. But, for now, I can tell you that it’s a great idea to sit down for 10 minutes and brainstorm a list of simple meal ideas, to help make weekly dinners and grocery shopping easier.
Preparing The Kids For A Virtual Setting
Over the past month or so we’ve had numerous conversations with our kids to better prepare them for distance learning. One of the things we talked about was the use of laptops and meeting apps like Microsoft Teams (sort of like Zoom), to communicate with teachers and classmates.
We had discussions with them about keeping things as normal as possible. So we stressed the importance of being on time, getting washed, dressed, and looking presentable for live sessions.
Tip: Try to be patient with school staff and administrators. Keep in mind that many of them are parents of school-aged kids just like you. Also, virtual learning is new for many teachers and staff who haven’t had ample time to learn the technology. Give yourself and them some grace.
Shopping For School Supplies
I feel like I saved SO MUCH money on school supplies this year!
We still shopped for clothes but stuck to the basics of what they were currently in need of. Things like socks, underwear a couple of tees and some jeans. My daughter also needed a new pair of sneakers. So I took advantage of our tax-free weekend and bought everything at once.
I spent less than $100 on clothing & shoes. Our school supplies totaled around $60, including the dry erase board, calendar, and bin.
I hope these tips are helpful to you and your fam. This transition to online learning isn’t a cakewalk by any means. But with a little preparation, it’s possible to remove a lot of our stress as parents and caregivers.
Let me know how your school year or school prep is going so far. Drop me a comment below or click the little blue comment button if you received this post via email. I wish you and your family all the best this school year!
What school option did you decide on this year? How do you feel about the upcoming school year for you and your family?