Distance Learning in a Stress-Free Home

Have you been faced with the need to set your child up for success in an easy and stress-free environment that won’t break the bank?

If you answered yes, I wanted to take a second and introduce you to my friend Monika Nielsen, a homeschooling mom with over 18 years of experience. I reached out to Monika seeking her advice and expert opinion on how to navigate a new school year set up for distance learning. I wanted to share her wisdom, expertise, and years of experience with all of you. I hope it helps answer some of your questions, concerns, and honestly any mom-guilt you might be experiencing.

Monika Nielsen resides in the beautiful state of Colorado with her husband and three children, ages 22-8. Her oldest son finished his last two years of high school at a public charter school, graduating with his High School Diploma and Associate’s Degree at the same time. Damn, that’s impressive…am I right! Her 16-year daughter has attended the same school since her freshman year and her younger son is in a 2-day a week collaborative program, and homeschooling the other three days a week.

In the pockets of time, she is running two businesses as well as spending a considerable amount of time helping local non-profits in her area.

Monika is an amazing woman, mom, teacher, and entrepreneur. She truly wears all the hats with grace, patience, and knowledge. I turn to her for guidance, support, and advice on all things homeschooling, distance learning, and setting us up for a positive, stress-free at-home learning environment.

I asked Monika if she would share her top tips and insight on how to navigate the current distance learning set up. I hope you find this as helpful as I do!

  1. YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING….all the time. There are holes in every learning setting. You simply cannot learn all there is to know! Teaching the love of life-long learning can happen in any setting and sets them up for good habits as they grow older.
  2. SEEK PEACE – it will be ok. Worry steals so much energy. Keep in mind these children already LEARN AT HOME! You have taught your kiddos everything they knew until they stepped foot into a classroom, as well as teaching them every day whether it is homework or just answering their basic questions and needs (or not so basic-HA!)
  3. BE OUTDOORS- If you have a schooling situation where you are online most of the time, teacher-directed and resource supplemented, then my biggest piece of advice is to make sure your kiddos get as much outside time as possible! Lunch should be eaten outside in the sunshine and fresh air. Breaks can be a quick scooter or bike ride around the block. My son (8) gets cranky and we do 10 jumping jacks and he complains and we end up in a tickle fight often. Anything to get the blood moving, the lungs deep breathing, and hopefully them laughing. Dance parties are very good for this too- the sillier, the better! ?
  4. ZOOM FATIGUE IS NO JOKE and there are great articles about the science behind the issue as well as ways to combat it. You can supplement with so many fun things depending on your schedule and kiddo. I only had 1 out of the 3 that loved workbooks, so I made sure and bought a ton to satisfy him. One liked games-there are so many fun games that happen to be educational. Simplyfun.com is a great resource. I encourage you to check it out and pick something out you and your child both like and can do together or alone time.
  5. SET UP FOR SUCCESS
    Turn off the need to be a Pinterest homeschool mom! Unless you’re looking for an excuse to redecorate.

After 18 years, 3 kids, 3 states, which included a small house, lots of travel, smaller apartment, then typical suburban home -not once did my kids use anything that was set up! They would literally grab their things out of the cute organized school room and spread out in the house or backyard to “do school.” Every one of my kids has or has had a desk and they never sit at it -it accumulates stuff.

Here’s a little secret…. NOT ONE homeschool mama I have EVER talked to has said their kids sat at a desk all day. Now, if you have several kiddos all close in age, and younger, it may be nice to have a dedicated space to hang the world maps, have the craft cubbies, and keep their books and binders. Everyone will find their “place” in the house. Depending on age, personality, or the need for quiet (usually the older ones that have to live zoom as opposed to recorded.) It’s ok for your 8-year-old “energetic” son to lay on the floor or hang in the hammock to do his math worksheet, while your 16-year-old daughter is zooming on her bed and the toddler is trying to string macaroni to make a necklace while you “work” for 20 minutes.

Simple magazine file folders have been our lifeline. When we were in a small apartment, they stayed in my son’s room on a shelf. They can hold each subject-books/spiral notebook/special supplies.

He would grab them and take them wherever he felt like doing that subject! “School” that is not tied to an online zoom can happen anywhere. That also includes the park, running errands, and the life that needs to happen. Especially if you have youngers and can’t leave them at home by themselves. Bringing books to read, mazes or activity books, can save you a lot of whining and they learn so much from them.

Are you full-on homeschooling? Responsible for everything? That is a blog all unto itself…and there are thousands! What I will say is that YES-you can do it. YES-it will be hard at times (isn’t everything? ?) and YES-it is rewarding.

Give yourself grace!

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