If you’re one of the millions of families embarking on remote learning this year, you’ve probably felt a little nervous and/or unsure about the whole thing. After-all, it’s a rare family who experienced a smooth and stress-free transition to in-person learning during lockdown. However, this time is different for many reasons, the main one being that we’ve had time to prepare for this!
What’s not different is that remote learning can present an academic and emotional challenge for students (and parents) who are used to learning in-person with teachers and peers. And as hard as it can be to accept this temporary new reality, it is up to us as parents to set a positive tone for the school year. How on earth do we do this? By modeling a positive mindset, taking it a day at a time, and by creating the healthiest possible learning environment. Will it always be easy? Heck no. Will our children miss their old school routines? Undoubtedly, yes. But we hope these parent hacks will help lighten your load and help you lay the strongest possible foundation for a happier and healthier school year. Godspeed, and know we’re right there with you!
Tip #1: Help your child prepare for the school day the night before
This is an old productivity tip for professionals that works great for kids too. What you do is have them tell you what they’ll be doing in school the next day, you make a list, then help them prepare by asking them what supplies they’ll need to have ready, homework that must be done, etc. This way everyone’s organized and there are no unexpected surprises while they’re learning (and you’re working!). You can even ask them what activities they’d like to do during recess, what they’d like for lunch, etc. so everything’s down on paper and organized.
Children thrive on predictable routines, so do everything you can to help them know what’s coming, what to expect, and what’s expected.
Tip #2: Start everyone off with a nutrient-dense breakfast
Around here, we believe that food is medicine for the body, mind, and soul. And the best foods to fuel healthy learners are nutrient-dense, whole foods that are free of artificial ingredients and excitotoxins, bad fats, refined sugar, and as minimally processed as possible. Of equal importance is they must be quick and easy to prepare, taste great, and leave your child full and satisfied. Here are some of our go-to breakfasts:
- Breakfast burritos with gluten-free or sprouted grain tortillas, protein-rich pastured eggs, veggie of choice (grated yellow squash is easily hidden in eggs), and organic cheese. Top with salsa and avocado.
- Fresh fruit bowls with full-fat, organic yogurt and a sprinkle of sugar-free, natural-flavor-free granola (we like Purely Elizabeth Granola and Go Raw Raisin Crunch).
- Organic sausage patties with leftover roasted potatoes or organic sprouted wheat (or gluten-free) waffles with pure maple syrup or raw honey.
- Organic overnight oats or organic steel cut oats (soaked the night before to be eaten right away the next day!) with fresh organic fruit and nuts or nut butter and organic yogurt or kefir. *Please make sure your oats are gluten-free organic and Non-GMO verified/tested for glyphosate, as many crops of oats have tested positive for glyphosate pesticide in recent years.
- Bagels (we like Alvarado Street Sprouted Bagels, although they do have gluten) with organic cream cheese and fruit-sweetened jam, or nut butter and raw honey. For a more savory breakfast, try with coconut oil or avocado with a sprinkle of salt.
- Smoothies with homemade muffins—these no-sugar-added, gluten-free zucchini banana mini muffins from The FoodBabe are super easy to make and kid favorites (they also freeze well so you can make a big batch and quickly reheat individual servings in the toaster oven). For the smoothies, be sure to include some healthy fat and protein along with the fruit. We like adding hemp or chia seeds, avocados, and organic or dairy-free plain kefir. You can also sneak in a handful of greens undetected if you blend them up with a dark fruit like blueberries or cherries.
Healthy snacks are also super important, so be sure to check out: The Ultimate Healthy Snacks Guide.
#3: Create a space conducive to distraction-free learning
This may sound like a no-brainer, but it can be a challenge when you’re all working and learning from home.
Ideally, you want to set up your child’s learning space like a classroom. Which means having a comfortable chair and dedicated desk with all their school supplies in easy reach…easier said than done, right? If you’re short on space and/or your child’s not that great at keeping things tidy, we’d highly recommend one of these portable storage carts which easily house any and all relevant school supplies (they’re also great for home offices, kitchens, and laundry rooms too).
Additionally, make sure their learning area is in a space with a good internet connection. We very much prefer a hard-wire connection for this, both for quality of connection and reduction of EMF exposure to their developing brains. If your child needs headphones to drown out noise, choose over the ear, non-wireless headphones that are Bluetooth-free. Again, this is the healthiest choice for developing brains which can be affected by unnecessary EMF exposure.
Tip #4: Increase focus by addressing tech toxins
One of the hardest things about remote learning is the screen time. And though many studies have linked excess screen time to a variety of issues, there’s still plenty a creative parent can do to limit tech toxins. Including:
- Turning down the brightness on your child’s screen, which reduces blue light and helps reduce eye strain.
- Invest in blue blocker glasses, which filter out harmful blue light that can interfere with sleep and vision1
- Swap out LED and compact fluorescent lights for incandescent bulbs. LEDs and fluorescent lights can cause headaches and trouble focusing. Bringing in more natural light is another great solution.
- Limiting their EMF exposure where you can. Take the opportunity to remove WIFI and hardwire all your connections, use wired headphones without Bluetooth that go over the ears (this protects hearing), have them place laptops on a hard surface (not their lap), and try to minimize the amount of devices they’re working with.
Tip #5: Balance academic time with lots of unstructured playtime (preferably outdoors)
There’s an old saying: there’s no great loss without some small gain. In terms of remote learning, we believe the biggest gain is the opportunity for more free, unstructured play. This basically means kicking your children outdoors with no instructions other than to “have fun”…then let their imaginations run wild. This helps their brain integrate what they’ve learned in class while increasing creativity, social skills, problem solving skills, boosting self-esteem and increasing focus.
We also like letting our kids run barefoot on the grass as it helps ground them by balancing out the excess positive electrons they get from the computer with the negative electrons found naturally in the earth. Going barefoot leads to better posture and allows for sensory stimulation that benefits the brain. It also helps minimize tech toxins and improves their sleep by naturally balancing their 24-hour circadian rhythm 2…which is well worth a little time spent washing dirty feet.
If your children cannot go outside, they can still exercise those free play muscles indoors. The key is to remove structured activities, such as board games, video games, paint-by-numbers arts and crafts projects, TV, etc.
And remember above all…give yourself grace!
We don’t love the catch-all phrase “new normal” to describe this pandemic…because there’s nothing normal about it! Do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go how you hoped! And know that we’re in this with you, as parents and as a community, and we know you’ve got this (however it may look for you and your kiddos)!
It takes a village! Help us keep the community support going by leaving your remote learning hacks in the comments below.