Distance Learning: Five Survival Tips From the Homefront

basis charter school girl student seated at a table doing homework with a pencil, a water bottle, and a pencil sharpener

Our small world keeps getting smaller.

Over the last few decades, the ever-expanding internet has brought the whole world and its resources close to home. Worldwide communication is instantaneous, and physical proximity is often irrelevant. Through telemedicine and robotically enabled surgeries, even doctors can perform certain visits remotely.

Over the last several weeks, the necessity of social distancing and the resulting halt to travel have made each of our own personal worlds smaller. Naturally, most of us are spending a great deal more time at home with our families. This may feel a bit unnatural to those whose daily lives usually put them in different places at different times.

What was previously more of a basecamp, our home has become our whole world. From the once clockwork routine of school and work to soccer, gymnastics, dance, tennis, entertainment, and many various daily off-site commitments and engagements—to now, an occasional excursion out for supplies—things have certainly changed.

With my husband and me now working remotely, and our children distance learning, I am more grateful than ever that they attend a BASIS Charter School. The remarkable organization of lessons, communication of expectations, creativity of delivery, continuous support, and practical assessment tools provided by BASIS Charter School teachers makes this current transition to distance learning both accessible and engaging.

Each week as processes become smoother and simpler, and content more robust, I am increasingly aware of how I might keep my head above water.

1. Summon Grace Under Pressure

Fortunately, BASIS Charter School students and teachers thrive on challenge. But sharing the same space for weeks on end, while carrying on with “business as usual” as much as possible can be quite a challenge. At present, we all face adversity of different types, and degrees of sharp and extreme change to our daily lives.

American novelist James Lane Allen, who grew up in Kentucky during the Civil War and Reconstruction of our United States, famously observed that “Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.” Typically, it’s going to go a few rounds, too.

As families in close quarters, dealing with new obstacles and uncertainty, we’re bound to have heated moments (possibly many times a day, depending on the ages of your children). Don’t lose hope. Like tempered steel, we need to step into the fire many times before we are strong.

2. Reach Out

We are all in this together.

While it’s critical to be flexible within the given confines we’re all adjusting to, maintaining fairly regular school hours helps to stay on track. The day runs much more smoothly for my own kids when they know what is expected.

Even now, BASIS Charter School teachers make this part easier every day. They provide the complete blueprint for maintaining the high-level learning my kids are accustomed to. They also offer pacing guides that make it simple for students and parents to navigate through engaging lessons and interactive activities.

BASIS Charter School teachers are used to being creative in their classrooms. It’s no surprise that they have taken distance learning to new levels. They continue to deliver interactive lessons that can be followed closely and completed remotely. They connect with students through detailed video guidance in math lessons and science experiments, livestreaming PE and martial arts, sharing links to helpful resources, and more, and continue to be available as always to provide support.

3. Look Inward

I can’t help but feel we are homesteading right now. We are doing more for ourselves and relying less on others. With the garden and cupboards containing our necessities, we are lucky to have little need to leave. We make infrequent but well-planned trips into town for goods. It feels somewhat like Little House on the Prairie, except that the kids don’t leave for school, ever.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the many roles you may suddenly be filling. Our family model runs most efficiently when we stay flexible, so our household roles and responsibilities shift depending on the demands of the day.

Within our family, we each have different strengths that complement each other. Look to each other’s strengths, interests, and skills. Ask each other, “What do you like to do?” If past routines no longer apply, feel free to modify.

4. Quiet Down

Everybody needs some regular periods of solitude—not isolation, but rather some space to reflect, refresh, and recharge. If you live in Arizona (like I do), that space can still be found outdoors. If you live in New York City, that space might need to be found internally (through noise-cancelling headphones).

It’s easier to take on challenges with a clear mind. Find a personal refuge to get away to think, plan, and prepare. Take advantage of the extra time you’ve gained by losing the daily commutes and frequent travel. Find space in a safe place outside, at home near a window, or by escaping into music or a book.

Current technology allows us to easily reach out to nearly anyone, anywhere, and to find answers to our questions. Of course, be wary of the bad information and poor advice that inundates the internet. As Steve Jobs put it, “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice.” Scrolling social media creates more clutter than clarity.

5. Keep Improving

Don’t beat yourself up. These are uncharted waters, but resources are available and growing every day. The BASIS Charter School community of creative thinking, problem-solving, experimenting, innovating students, teachers, and families are unstoppable when we continue to collaborate. Personally, I am grateful to be absorbing a bit of the BASIS Charter School culture. For now, I’m thankful to be able to participate in and share my children’s enthusiasm for learning. I look forward to garnering more BASIS Charter School preparedness and organization for myself. The kids have already got this!

About the Author

Rebecca Scarpino is a mother of four children, including two current BASIS Charter School students. She lives with her husband, two youngest children, two dogs, and three chickens in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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