Return to Online Chaos…I mean classroom

A Kindergarten aged child logs in to her online learning portal

If you’re a fellow Ontarian like myself, yesterday’s provincial government announcements were a gut punch. If you’re also a parent, like myself, the announcements were an even tougher pill to swallow as we were once again informed that our children will be returning to online learning as we do what we can to “blunt the blow” that our healthcare system is currently enduring due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic.

It sucks.

Big time.

I’m mad. I cried a lot about it during the announcement – just flat out broke down at one point with tears streaming down my face as the reality of online learning sunk in for me and what exactly that means for our family.

As some of you may know, my husband is immunocompromised and last year, at the beginning of the new school year, we decided to forego enrolling our eldest in JK, instead choosing to keep her enrolled at the daycare she had been attending since she was two. It was one of the best decisions we made last year given how the remainder of the school year was such a crapshoot for kids in the public school system. We’re very grateful that Annabelle was able to remain at an education centre with familiar educators who cared for her and could understand her speech. You see, Annabelle has a pretty significant speech delay and, due to the wonderful panini we’re all in, her speech public therapy sessions were halted and never resumed in-person, unfortunately. So as a mom, I now constantly carry around this underlying concern for her speech development. She has been thriving since in-person learning resumed in September – I’m terrified of what online learning will mean for her progress.

In an effort to help calm some of my anxiety and nerves around all this change, I did a few key things yesterday:

  1. We created a learning nook area in Annabelle’s room specifically for online learning. Check out the details of that here.
  2. I reached out to my wonderful community and asked for help. The response was overwhelming and I’m so grateful to you all for the many ideas, suggestions, links and accounts that you share with me. I’m going to share more on this specifically below.
  3. I went for a walk, I called a friend and I ate some food. So simple and yet such a game changer. Afterwards, I was able to come up with a plan/routine that will help our family continue to ride these waves of life.

What I wanted to share with you today were some of the very helpful suggestions that I received from my wonderful Instagram community. My questions were regarding supports for online learning, homeschool resources and how to keep your cool as a mom.

Zero Pressure Approach

An overwhelming number of you relayed advice of “letting it go”, “taking it easy” and “doing what’s right for your family”. It was so beautiful to see, truly. At the end of the day, so much of the submitted answers distilled down to “go easy on yourself and your kids” – we’re all living through a pandemic together and absolutely none of us ever thought we would be parenting/working/teaching/learning during these times. It’s simply facts and, after two long years of this, we’re tired and it shows. We’re learning to give ourselves and our loved ones the extra grace that we need and I am HERE for it!

A few of you also talked about how your child chose to only attend their virtual classes for 1/2 the day or that you gave them the choice of which class to attend for that day. I love this approach as it helps teach balance and allows your child to feel more involved in the decision making process as well.

Keeping expectations low and realistic was echoed by many and suggestions of logging off as needed were also common. I know many of us already struggle with balancing screen time and/or feelings with parent-guilt surrounding screens so I really think that logging off and getting outside is really just such great and easy advice to follow – I know I’d also benefit from implementing this advice into my own life! Which leads us well into the next major thing I heard from you all: that taking breaks for play are SO IMPORTANT!

Prioritize Playtime

Many of you reminded me simply to just have fun! We’re fortunate that Annabelle is in Senior Kindergarten and much of the curriculum still focuses on play based learning for her. Suggestions of things to do when sitting in front of a screen just isn’t working:

  • Sit together and read
  • Get bundled up and go for a walk
  • Puzzles & Boardgames
  • Have a mini dance party
  • Do yoga or meditate together
  • Build Forts
  • Play-dough & Crafts
A mother stands in a field holding the hands of her two daughters
‘Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.’ –Socrates

Remember that it’s also possible to combine play and learning through certain activity sheets, workbooks and colouring pages.

Workbooks/Resources/Accounts to Follow

Several of you sent me links to worksheets and resources that you found helpful for your own online learning journey – you’re just the best group of online friends I could ever ask form, thank you! Workbooks are a great “grab it and go” for keeping everything schoolwork all in one place. Suggestions of workbooks that were well received by your kids included the Canadian Curriculum Workbook Bundles from Costco and this Brain Quest workbook from Amazon. Amazon has hundreds of workbooks to choose from, allowing you to easily zero in on specific subjects and grades.

Colouring Page subscriptions are also a super fun way to combine play/learning/connection all at once. I’ve been a long time follower of Tara over at Rad & Happy and her Color Happy Subscription is absolutely adorable. Every month I’m so in awe of the beautiful pages she creates and all of the thought that goes into the subscription. It’s only $5 a month and you retain access to all of the subscription months you’ve paid for. Tara does a wonderful job of adding in fun little habit trackers, routine worksheets, holiday inspired pages and ways to add lots of learning opportunities during the fun playtime task of colouring.

Finally, don’t forget to lean into Pinterest and other social media accounts for inspiration – don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own!

Other social media accounts that some of you recommended included:

  • A Pinch of Kinder is by a full day Ontario Kindergarten teacher and has a wealth resources and activities for your Kindergarten aged kiddos.
  • Hol-Fit has a wonderful selection of resources, links and free printables to help you really get organized with your online learning journey
  • Big Little Feelings has great resources for helping parents thrive in parenthood – it’s ran by parent coach and child therapist duo – and MrChazz has great resources for parenting, breaking generational trauma (heyyyyyyyy), a podcast and bingeworthy content.

Coping Strategies/Advice

Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about TAKING CARE OF YOU! Now that we’ve stocked up on resources and creating a plan to move forward, let’s talk about some ways that you can focus on your own mental health and well-being right now. Many of you used this as an opportunity to remind our community to give yourselves more grace, patience and empathy right now. It’s okay to not do it all, to drop some of the balls. And, in fact, you can’t even properly juggle the balls if you’re not at your best, right? So, with that in mind, here are a few things that you may wish to bring into your own routine:

  • A daily meditation practice is a wonderful way to help regulate your nervous system, reduce your anxiety and better connect with yourself. I am a HUGE fan of the Insight Timer app and use it regularly for guided meditations, chakra cleansing, yoga music and connecting with my Angels/Spirit guides. Throw on those headphones and take some time to recenter and reground – you deserve nothing less.
  • Many of you shared that you have found CBD products to be extremely beneficial throughout all of this uncertainty that we’ve been living amongst. If you’ve followed me on Instagram for a while, you might remember that I’m also a huge fan of the dosist pen and their calm formula – check out their site for a list of distributers near you.
  • Daily movement – I know, its the same old adage: “exercise and you’ll feel better” but after almost 35 years on this planet, I can confirm that when I move my body, my mind feels better. Always. So now, when I think of exercise and body movement, I correlate it with improving my mental health; nothing else. Try it, it’s a nice perspective change.
A women writes with intention in a journal surrounded by flowers and candles
remember to incorporate your own mental health and well being self-care into your own routine – journalling is a wonderful tool

So, there’s my tips, friends. Was it helpful? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments what your plan of action is when we start online learning tomorrow morning. I know I’ll be raising my coffee cup in solidarity with you all.

xoxo

Savanna

*This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission if you click on the links, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read my full disclaimer here.

Savanna

Hello! Welcome to the SavannaMehrad.com! My name is Savanna and I'm so excited that you've decided to stop by and check out my little blog.

This blog started out as a journey of living adventurously in the kitchen, trialing gluten free, vegan, whole food recipes that you and your whole family can enjoy.

Fast forward a few years and I've chosen to breath new life into it, this time, focus on my mental health journey, sharing the tools, resources and practices that continue to help me on my self-healing path.

I hope that you'll enjoy tagging along with me on this new adventure - I can't wait to share all of my ideas with each of you and look forward to your feedback along the way. I'd love to hear from you - whether it's a comment on a post, sharing your own unique journey or even just a quick hello! Feel free to leave a note in the comments or send me an email at savanna [at] savannamehrad.com.

Lots of love and big hugs!
-Savanna

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