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This has been an unprecedented year in almost every way. We have had to very quickly adapt to new ways of doing things in just about every aspect of our lives, and a huge piece of that for a lot of families has been and will be virtual/remote learning.

When the shit hit the proverbial fan back in the spring, those of us with school aged kids had to adjust, literally overnight, to our kids now being, and learning, at home all day. As a contract teacher I was out of a job so I was able to fully commit to my own kid’s 1st and Pre-k virtual learning.

Did I enjoy it? Sometimes. Did it go smoothly? Depended on the day. Did I have to make some major adjustments minute to minute to find some kind of academic successful for all of us? Hell yes.

THEN (the plot thickens) my teaching contract was adjusted and I was able to teach my former students virtually through the summer.

Did I enjoy it? Most days. Did it go smoothly? Depended on the day. Did I have to make some major adjustments minute to minute to find some kind of academic success for myself and my students. Hell yes.

I want to share with you what I’ve learned, from the parent and teacher perspective, and hopefully help you set up and plan for the best possible virtual learning experience. But before I go into my list, I want to say above everything else: This school year patience, understanding and flexibility are going to be of utmost importance. For the teachers, administrators, students and ourselves.

Here is what I have found to be super helpful for both student and parents.

Set Yourself Up For Success

Just like in a traditional classroom, the space in which kids learn can greatly impact HOW they learn.

I realized all too quickly back in the spring that doing school work at the kitchen table, in the center of all household activities, with her brother across from her, was the least effective learning environment for my 1st grader.

In contrast, my pre-k son can do his work anywhere and with anyone, amidst any sort of activity. So as I prep to begin virtual learning this fall, I’ve got a workspace set up in my now 2nd graders room and when I need to be working with both of them at time, a portable lap desk for my son.

Partner with your child to find the best space and set up for them. Take a critical look at what works best for them and go from there. Remember, quiet and free from distraction is the best place to start.

Find A Village

Things are always easier with support and remote learning is no different.

This school year, with so much newness to this way of learning it will be incredibly helpful to find a group of families in the same boat, and even better, the same grade level as your family. Maybe start a Facebook group where everyone can come with questions, concerns, advice and strategies. Organize a few families to have small social groups since this aspect is greatly lacking in virtual learning.

Whatever you do, find others who are doing the same thing and circle up.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

I have found, as the mom and as the teacher, that this may be the most important piece of successful virtual learning. Clear, open and honest communication with your school and classroom teacher sets a tone for the school year and better enables you to be the best co-teacher you can be.

Now I’m not saying send an email each and every time there’s a hiccup but simply keeping lines of communication open with your child’s teacher, reaching out for support and guidance and being open and flexible as challenges arise can truly make for a smooth learning experience.

You Set The Tone

As the parents, we are the barometers. Our attitude, energy and outlook greatly effect whatever it is we having going on in our house and with virtual learning, it’s no different.

The vast array of emotions everyone is feeling these days, and specifically around school and learning, is hard to sort through and mentally exhausting. And that’s just for us parents! Our kids are going to be feeling their own mix of feelings and will be looking at us to guide them through the thorns of it.

You may be anxious, nervous, angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, but it’s paramount that when it comes to the work of virtual learning we as parents remain positive and supportive for our kids. Have the honest conversations about fears and worries and end with “But we will do this together and it will be great!” Now is the time to slap on the happy face, practice positivity and be the lighthouse of calm in all of this.

Above all, beyond all the tips and tricks and best laid plans, remember that patience and flexibility, with yourself, your child and the teachers is going to be the #1 item on your supply list. There are going to be hard days and major frustrations but virtual learning can be done and you can be successful!

Here’s to a new, and all sorts of crazy, school year!!

This article was originally published at Medium.