It's back to school season! Things may look different this year, with many districts offering virtual school, remote school, or online learning. It might not be what you wanted for this year or how you imagined things.
But no matter how you feel about it, this isn't going to last forever.
So get out your camera and start documenting!
Every stage is important, and there are good things to remember about virtual learning. Taking pictures help cement those good memories in your mind! You set the tone for your family, and you can make your kids feel special with the pictures you're taking.
Here are ten photos to take of your kids doing virtual school.
1. Document the first day as usual.
First day of school pictures are a non-negotiable tradition! If you're starting virtually, this is your chance to document this year in a unique way. Here are a few options:
- Print off a "First day of Remote School" sign. These ones are super cute, but there are all kinds of styles if you search on Etsy or Google.
- Letterboards are easy, fun prop. We added an asterisk to ours to mark it as the first day of remote school.
- Some people use a chalkboard, which feels very appropriate for back-to-school photos.
- You could also have your kids hold up their laptop as their "sign" for the year. Just superimpose text on afterward!
PS - It's okay to have a first day of school picture redo if you weren't happy with the actual first day of school pictures. There's no photo police! No one will know or care if it's not the actual first day.
2. Take a picture of their learning station.
It doesn't matter if your school area is your dining table or a stylized schoolroom with color-coded schedules.
Just document where your kids are doing the work. It's important!
Pro Tip: Try standing on a chair to get you an overhead view of the whole set up.
Someday you'll be awed to remember how many papers, binders, pencils, and technology that virtual school required!
3. Set up your phone for a timelapse video of what school really looks like!
My friend found this video on her phone. Her daughter borrowed her phone and recorded herself during a Zoom meeting.
It's such a telling little video of what life is ACTUALLY like right now. It's hard to sit still when you're little!
I loved it so much I grabbed a few seconds of what first grade and toddler snack time looks like. Definitely saving this!
Want to take a time-lapse? It's easy!
Most phones have this option built right in - just poke around in the camera settings to find the time-lapse mode. It will automatically make the videos super fast to fit it into a reasonable time. On an iPhone, you just swipe all the way to the left.
The key to a good time-lapse is finding a stable place for your phone to sit so that only your subject is moving. You can lean it against something or use a phone tripod - just check to make sure the angle looks good.
Then press "record" and the video will start recording. Try to hit done before moving your phone out of position to minimize camera shake. The super-fast video will show up in your videos!
3. Capture the unique aspects of virtual learning.
Capture truth. It's a weird year.
Your pictures don't have to show perfect school stations and smiling faces.
This won't last forever - so document whatever happens. Someday those pictures will be treasured proof of how odd 2020 really was.
Is your kid just as happy on the floor as in the desk you so lovingly set up? Get the shot.
Headphones killing your sweet hair style? Take a picture.
Does "going to school" mean heading down the stairs with your backpack? Take a picture.
Does little sister snuggle up for your videos and a snack? That's a great thing to document!
5. Take pictures of the fun stuff.
There are good things to remember about virtual learning, and photographing them helps cement that in your brain.
So have your phone or camera ready for those fun moments: like when your child participates in show & tell, or shows off work to their teacher onscreen.
Our school already did a spirit week, and I'm so glad! It's nice to have a bit of normalcy and something to look forward to each day. Don't skip the crazy hair day, dress up days, or anything else!
6. Get the hard moments too.
My friend took this honest picture of a hard day, and I loved her caption.
"Remember how I said this week can be better than last?? Fast forward to this morning... well it is! I didn’t melt down with her. I was smiling and we got back on track and would you believe she was the third kid to look like this?
One I had to drag out from under the blankets in their bed and the other one didn’t cry as much but was revolting as well. It’s hard to communicate online, feelings were hurt because my son didn’t get his question answered even though he had his hand raised the whole time, my daughter couldn’t find her zoom link and missed a class... we figured things out and dried the tears.
Then I went in the garage and ate a secret ice cream bar at 9 am! It’s a great day for a great day! "
Parenting is hard. Remote school is hard. How human of you to admit that it's rough!
It doesn't help anyone to pretend life is perfect.
So grab your phone and take a picture or two, even on hard days. It's your life, and it's important to capture it just as it is.
Right now isn't forever. You can do this!
7. Do all your normal back to school traditions.
Don't forget your usual traditions! Doing those things is comforting to kids.
I know some families have a special dinner and decorate the house at the beginning of the year.
We just started doing homemade pizzas in the shape of their grade. It's a fun and easy tradition that grows with them! And it's definitely something to take pictures of.
8. Take the mom selfies.
Hey mom! You're the teacher/principal/lunch lady all at once.
And even if that role is super overwhelming, you deserve some pictures too. Make sure to snap a few pictures of you doing your thing. Use your timer or as a different child to take a picture - but YOU are an integral part of online learning!
I think it's especially important to capture the moments that aren't ideal. This is me and the baby hiding in the kitchen with zoom meetings happening all around us. It's ok to sneak in an ice cream break!
9. Capture that Zoom Meeting.
My guess is your kids are spending a lot of time on Zoom or Google Meet or some other video platform. Document it!
One way is to take a picture over your child's should, as they look at the screen.
A fun option is to get a screenshot of all the videos up. You probably shouldn't screenshot your whole class because of privacy laws, but you can take a picture when you zoom with friends or family.
Some of the kids wore matching shirts for Twin Day, so they had a Zoom meeting together. I took this fun picture of how crazy their zoom meetings really are. Bless that teacher, with these six little boy friends in class!
How to take a screenshot on a Mac: Command + Shift + 3 takes a picture of the whole screen and drops the file on the desktop.
Here's the key command for a PC: Use the PrtScn button on your keyboard (or PrtSc on some models) to take a screenshot that saves to the clipboard. Then you can go into Paint, use Ctrl + V to paste the screenshot, and save it to your files.
Here's the command for a Chromebook: Ctrl + Show Windows takes a full screenshot. The Show Windows key has a little picture of a rectangle with two lines on the right side, and it's equivalent to the F5 key on a PC. Any screenshots on a Chromebook will save to your Downloads folder.
Again, I do not think you should screenshot your whole classroom, but it's a fun memory with close friends or family who are okay with it.
10. Have fun with it!
You're living through such a unique time of life. Have a little fun with it!
If you can dream up something clever or funny, document it. The beautiful thing is you can take your picture whenever you please. Here are some of the ideas I've seen:
If your kids are starting in person:
Some areas have in-person school this fall. If that's what you're doing, then head to this post for tips for how to document your school experience. The tips aren't just for the first day!
You'll definitely want to follow tip #5 - your school likely won't allow parents on campus as often this year.