KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Some families across East Tennessee had to adapt over the last week as a holiday turned into a snow day which turned into even more time off of school because of illnesses.

One Knoxville mom and blogger, Emily Lawson, weighed in with some tips for parents venturing back into the virtual learning world. One of the former elementary school teacher’s top tips was focusing on children’s independent learning and playing.

“Independent play is not this horrible thing, that you’re making your poor child go play by themselves,” said Lawson. She also added that the theories behind independent learning and playing will help your child in the long run.

“It is allowing them to build up problem-solving skills, it’s allowing them to build up resiliency skills, and they’re building their imagination and their creative skills, they’re even working through some socio-emotional skills,” said Lawson.

Lawson also warned that building up these independent skills should be gradual.

“Our younger kiddos, they are not prepared to be left alone for long periods of time, and you’re not going to get your two-year-old to play for four hours for you to get a massive project done, that’s just not realistic,” said Lawson. “But, let’s get you to 20 minutes.”

She said for students who are back at home virtual learning this week, no matter what age, it comes down to maintaining a routine.

“I would still wake up at the same time, keep that same morning routine as if we were going to school,” she said. “Keeping those routines in place helps our kids to know what’s coming and what’s expected of them.”

A final unique tip applicable for any aged students, use sensory activities and materials like play-dough as a way for your kids to unwind and reflect.

“Even those big kids are going to be interested and kind of want that moment and that time to deflect and calm down on their end,” said Lawson.

Lawson also said any opportunity to get outside and get active can be beneficial for the entire family. She is the Founder and CEO of Sandbox Academy LLC. Her blog can be found here.