Distance Learning Hacks: The Ultimate Guide for Working Parents
Distance learning isn’t something most of us have had to deal with before. But today, a remote learning schedule and some organization hacks are the only things keeping us on track. (Well, that and wine…but that’s a post for another day 😅)
But can I let you in on a secret? You don’t have to be the most organized person to stay on top of distance learning…and it’s totally possible to create a remote learning schedule that gives you the space to work, as well.
I’ve been helping people throughout the pandemic keep a handle on everything that comes along with remote learning, so I decided it was time to share my best tips with everyone 😉
Because a lot of what I’ve figured out has come with trial and error. I’m not some magical organized unicorn…I just constantly try new things out when something isn’t working.
And really, it comes down to 3 simple steps which I’m going to break down for you today:
1. Organize Your Day
2. Organize Your Supplies + Work Space
3. Refine + Reflect
And the goal here is to create a remote learning environment that supports your kids and gives you the freedom and flexibility to get some work done, minus all the chaos and yelling. Well…for the most part 🤷♀️
So keep on scrolling, and I’ll break it all down for you.
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Step 1: Organize Your Day
The first step to becoming a distance learning ninja is to organize your day.
In other words, you guys ALL need a schedule to work off of.
Kids need schedules…And so do adults! Even if you think you don’t like schedules (not sure if that’s you? Check out this article I wrote on how your personality type affects your productivity!).
When we first went into a stay at home order, I tried out a ton of different schedules. And if you’re on my email list, I was letting you know everything that was working…and everything that wasn’t during that time.
But my son was in Pre-K then, so we didn’t have to worry about Zoom calls or turning in his homework on time. And while that may sound easier, the lack of structure was killing us all.
Now that he’s in Kindergarten we have that structure, but we have to make sure we’re showing up for the calls on time and getting everything done…both for his school and our businesses.
Remote Learning Schedule
To simplify things, here are 4 simple steps you need to take to create that structure:
1. Write down any work meeting times you have, kid zoom call times, and anything else that can’t be moved around.
2. Plan out your kid’s day.
3. Plan out your workday on top of that.
4. Reflect and refine.
So first, grab a free copy of the Remote Learning Organization Packet right here and jot down when your different meetings and appointments are.
For example, my son has his Zoom calls at 10:15 and 1:15, so I block those times off every day.
I typically don’t have the same appointment every day, so I generally move things around week to week to accommodate my schedule, as well. But I’ll sit down on Sunday night and write down everything I have coming up, too.
Then, I’ll fill in any doctor’s appointments and stuff like that. These days we don’t have a whole lot of that, but they still happen here and there.
Once that’s done, you can start blocking out the different times that you guys are going to do things. And what these things are will depend on what all you have going on.
You can click here to grab a free copy of the Distance Learning Daily Schedule Templates that you see above. It comes with an entire page to brainstorm and organize everything so you can easily schedule it all in.
But these are going to be specific things like homework, outdoor time, work time, snack time, lunchtime, and so on.
Distance Learning Schedule Templates
Now it’s your turn to put together a schedule.
The one above is a rough copy of our schedule. But my son’s in Kindergarten.
An older kid will need more time scheduled in for school, and it would be helpful to schedule what they’re doing when. For example, from 9-9:45 math, from 10-10:45 English, 11-11:45 social studies, and so on.
And I want you to notice that I did still schedule a break in between all of those. I mean, I wouldn’t want to work through the entire morning without a break. It’s horrible for your productivity. So I don’t think it’s fair to expect our kids to do it, either.
So click here to grab the distance learning schedule templates. Start by writing down the different things that you and everyone else at home need to get done each day. I recommend using one page of the templates for each person.
Then, use the templates to start scheduling everything. Start with those fixed dates and times and then fill everything else in.
Then, at the end of every week use the final pages to reflect on everything and refine your schedule even more going forward.
And I’ll come back to that here in a second, but first, let’s talk workspace organization.
You might also like >> 20 Time Management Tips For Work At Home Moms
Step 2: Organize Your Supplies
So the next step to beating the distance learning level of life is to organize your school supplies and set up a killer workspace.
And guys, I made this wayyyyy too difficult at first.
I set him up with a kiddo sized desk. I got learning posters to hang up on the walls. I got all the bins for all the supplies. I created him a distance learning space that was all his in the basement.
And I mean, it was really great. And it worked for a while.
The problem, though, was that my son had too many distractions during his Zoom calls.
He would start reading his sight words from a poster. He would start grabbing markers and crayons from the bins next to his desk.
So while I went out of my way to make sure everything was easy for him to get to, that in and of itself was the problem.
Go figure, huh.
But that’s also why it’s sooo important to replicate what’s working and ditch what isn’t.
We still have his school area set up downstairs, but most of our remote learning is now done from the kitchen table. This allows either of us to make sure he stays on track while sitting there working with him, cooking lunch, or cleaning up the house.
But — and this is the important part — I haven’t let any of this take over our kitchen table.
First of all, I kept it super simple.
But I also made it mobile.
So let me show you what I did.
Distance Learning Home Setup
Now again, I have a kindergartner. So the things we regularly need may be different than what you need. I also have to sit with him during his Zoom calls and while he’s doing his homework or it’s not happening.
If your kid is older and needs some help staying on track, then you could easily do this for yourself and create a fun co-working space for your family.
If they’re better on their own, then set them up somewhere quiet.
But the first thing I wanted to find was something to hold all the different workbooks that we have. I bought a bunch at the start of the stay at home order, plus the school sent us a bunch home.
Stacking them all sucks and just leaves a messy pile.
And all the books are different shapes and super flimsy, so putting them on a bookshelf also doesn’t work the best.
So I grabbed a long, tall metal basket for all of our workbooks, worksheets, folders, and whatnot. I use the Remote Learning Organization Packet to keep everything I need for his school in one folder. I stack them vertically with the binders showing so I can easily see all of the different books and the metal frame holds them all in place. Plus, since it stands them all up, it really doesn’t take up that much space.
Next, I grabbed a smaller metal basket to hold all the random stuff that comes along with kindergarten.
I put a mason jar in there to hold all his pencils, pens, and styluses (just make sure it’s the kind with the removable seal so you can leave the lid on but still have it open). We also have scissors, a pencil sharpener, a stack of post-its to cover his picture on his Zoom calls so he’ll pay attention (game-changing hack btw), his counters, glue sticks, markers, crayons, and whatever else is currently hiding in there. Probably a Pokemon figure.
But this basket is pretty small and holds a bunch of stuff without it being difficult to find anything.
Since we have a family of 3, I normally just keep the two baskets in front of the 4th seat at our kitchen table. But they can both be moved to the shelf behind our table when we need more space or downstairs to his little office if we feel like working down there for the day.
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Step 3: Refine + Reflect
So now that you have your schedule ready to go and have your workspace all set up, it’s time to sit back and see how it all works.
That’s the only way you’ll be able to make it better.
So grab your Distance Learning Schedule Templates and start writing down the different things that you like about your day and everything you don’t.
What’s still frustrating you? What were you unable to find time for? Where do you need to find more time? What isn’t working with your current workspace setup? Why isn’t it working?
Then, sit down and brainstorm some different solutions.
Look back at everything you planned and use the reflection pages to dive deep here.
Ask yourself why certain things took longer than planned. Why some things just didn’t get done. Do you need to find more time for some things? Is there anything you can cut or move around to make that happen?
I mean, I’m to the point where I’m taking my 5-year-old jogging with me just to get in some cardio. And as nice as that sounds in theory…it can be pretty frustrating 😅
The point I’m trying to make, though, is that I’ve made notes on our daily schedule since this whole thing started, and the different things we do today are the direct result of those notes.
We’re all kinda winging it right now…and that’s totally okay. But I still want you to be super productive while living a life you love, and pivoting as you go is the secret to making that happen.
But regardless of where you are…you got this mama 🤟
You might also like >> 100+ Home Organization Ideas Straight from a Professional Organizer
Remote Learning Resources
I have a couple remote learning resources that will really help you out, so I thought it would be helpful to list them all for you here. Each of these remote learning resources was designed to help you thrive during this trying time 💜
To help you organize your distance learning, make sure you grab a FREE copy of the:
Distance Learning Daily Schedule Templates to help you organize your day so your kids get everything done and you can work, too.
Remote Learning Organization Packet so you have everything you and your kids need in one convenient place (it includes pages for school links and passwords, teacher names and emails, important dates on the district calendar, class schedules, daily assignments, plus printables for when class or tests are in session and some quiet time activities for the younger kids).
Meal Planning Guide to make dinner simple after an already stressful day. This guide is the exact method I teach my organizing clients to save money at the store and help you get a healthy meal on the table in a fraction of the time. You can also read this article to learn exactly how I save so much time and money meal planning.
Ready to get serious about your day? You might also be interested in:
Daily Schedule Review: This is a service I offer where I take a look at how you’re currently spending your day and then help you restructure it in a way that makes sense to you and your family. This is perfect for someone who’s tried everything and can’t find a daily schedule that works.
Work at Home Daily Schedule Templates: This is one of my best-selling digital products. It comes with 8+ different schedule examples, walking you through how to create blocks of time throughout the day to get your own work done (plus everything else around the house).
Mastering the #MomLife Juggle eCourse: This is a master course on how to get everything done around the house in less time…while freeing up your weekends for fun. It walks you through some of my top kid hacks, shopping hacks, meal planning hacks, cleaning hacks, family time hacks, self-care hacks, home project hacks, and so much more to help you trim down and organize everything you need to do, schedule it all in, and free up time to actually spend with your family. It’s every mom’s secret weapon and you don’t want to miss it!
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