We all love the hustle and bustle of “back to school” time. Between “back to school” commercials, colorful advertisements, and coupons galore, it’s an exciting time. Each year presents a fresh start for young students, with new friends, new teachers, and new knowledge. So, what about this school year? Where do we find joy and excitement getting ready to go back to school in the age of virtual learning? Quite a few moms, teachers, and students have come up with creative ways to ring in the back to school season. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Design Your Classroom
If you didn’t like the color of your classroom walls or the layout of the desks, you’re in luck! This year, all interior designs will be tailored to you. Some things will remain the same in your new bedroom-classroom, which is probably for the best because feeling like you’re really headed back to school will help you transition mentally. For the basics, you’ll want to have a desk or table you’ll work at every day. Developing a routine early on in the school year is important. There’s no harm in working in different rooms from time to time, or for certain classes but be sure to make your classroom arrangements a habit.
- Choose working locations near outlets, in case you need to plug in your computer.
- The closer you are to a window, the better. Natural light will keep you energized and focused.
- Consolidate all of the school supplies you use for virtual learning. Even using your backpack isn’t a bad idea. If you happen to move to the kitchen or the balcony, you won’t have to run room to room looking for your notebook.
2. Craft A Virtual Learning Schedule
In the virtual learning world, time moves differently. In a lot of ways, virtual learning is teaching students the importance of holding themselves accountable. By designing a schedule, you’re far less likely to run out time before homework is due, or forgetting you had a review session with your teacher. Although for now, we have more wiggle room in our day to day lives, poor time management can easily become overwhelming. No less, it’s easier to go back to school with a plan, than to try making one a week in.
- Color code your schedule. You don’t have to, but it’ll make it more readable, and help you commit it to memory.
- Include breaks. Taking time to breathe, drink water, or go for a walk is as important as time spent studying. Breaks will keep you sharp mentally, and ward off any midday fatigue.
3. Plan Your Recess
Having something to look forward to each day is super important. For many of us, recess is the climax of the school day. It’s a time for chatting with friends, blowing off steam, and recalibrating. Recess should be a time for exploration, discovery, and play. It may be worth figuring out what park you could walk to, or where you could play hopscotch or handball.
- Ditch the screens. Virtual learning is cool, virtual recess not so much. Yes, video games and TikTok are fun, and certainly will pass the time, but it’ll only make you tired.
- Have a mix of activities planned. Although it’s nice to get outside when possible, sometimes the weather can get in the way. Inside playtime like puzzles or knitting can be fun and stimulating.
4. Who will you sit with during lunch?
Sure, this “back to school” season we can’t sit with our besties each day over chocolate milk and Cheez-Its, but that doesn’t mean we have to eat alone. Reach out to your friends and see if there’s a time you could all eat lunch on Zoom together each day. Tip-Top Brain has even seen their students organically form new friendships and elect to meet after class, or on the weekends. Lunch provides the perfect excuse for students to connect. By connecting with classmates, you’ll be able to hear about what their virtual learning experience and share yours as well. Better yet, they might have some cool ideas you’ll want to try for your recess or designing your classroom.
- Invite new classmates. Typically, in the lunchroom, it’s easy to chat up classmates you’re not friends with yet. We can still do that! You could even invite their friends too. Luckily, using Zoom, or most any virtual learning environment, there’s always room at the table.
- Try some Zoom games. There are so many silly Zoom games to choose from these days, but I like I-Spy on Zoom. Lots of games can be played on Zoom with few changes (e.g. Charades, Pictionary, Simon Says).
With a little shift in perspective, the “back to school” festivities this year aren’t any less fun than years passed. If we choose to embrace creativity, we could end up with new back to school traditions to look forward to. No less, many of the virtual learning skills we’re crafting will surely become useful later in our education, as schooling becomes increasingly self-driven.