Your children are still enjoying summer, but you only have one thing on your mind: “Is it safe for my children to go back to school?” While it’s not out of the question in some areas, many schools will require online learning for at least a few weeks, and others have offered parents the option to keep children home regardless of in-person offerings. Online learning may be here to stay, but you can prepare your family for a smoother fall semester at home with these tips.
1. Coordinate With Teachers and Administrators
Before making any plans, check the latest information on school openings. Your child’s school or district is the best source for this information, and administrators can answer any questions you may have. Some schools have deadlines for choosing online learning, so stay aware of time constraints while you make your decision.
If your child has special accommodations, like an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan, they are still eligible for those services during remote learning. Summer is a great time to reach out to the teachers and staff responsible for these plans with your questions. Schools should have concrete methods for how to offer accommodations remotely and what you can do to make online learning a better experience for your child.
2. Search for Supplemental Resources Online
The move to remote learning has been challenging for everyone, especially students who may have a more hands-on or self-directed learning style. As a parent, you know that your child has their own way of learning and their own interests. Supplementing their education with online learning resources can help them study more effectively by offering alternative explanations for challenging concepts, providing quality “edutainment” to make the most of downtime, and encouraging children to continue learning about topics they find interesting, like music or coding. Best of all? Many of these resources are completely free.
3. Create a Daily Schedule
Education experts agree: Your family needs a schedule, and ineffective time management is an obstacle to online learning. Fortunately, you don’t have to stick to the eight-hour classroom structure! School psychologists suggest scheduling exercise, fun, family time, and screen-free learning opportunities alongside classroom time. Learning happens in many different ways, and varied activities help keep children engaged. Plus, if your child knows what they should be doing at a certain time, they may be less likely to interrupt you during work hours.
If you want your children to keep themselves on schedule, involve them in planning their day in an age-appropriate way. They’ll feel included, valued, and respected—and be more likely to stick to the plan. Especially for younger children, there’s no need to schedule every hour; consider a simple schedule to help kids learn to organize and prioritize their time.
4. Build an Inviting Workspace
A comfortable learning environment can improve focus and decrease fidgeting. Before you get into planning and decorating, start with the essentials: a flat surface, a comfortable chair, and a quiet room. Keep school supplies close by so children can find them without you, and make sure they have somewhere to talk to teachers and classmates that minimizes disruption to the rest of the household. Older, self-directed children and teens may not need to work as close to you as younger children do. Need some inspiration? Check out this collection of study areas that range from dedicated homeschooling classrooms to clever small-space solutions.
5. Remember to Take Care of Yourself
Parents are being asked to do more than ever with online learning, so be gentle with yourself. Avoid making comparisons to other families, especially on social media, and try to keep your plans flexible, especially with young children. Line up a few calming activities for yourself and your family before stress disrupts the day; you’ll feel better knowing what to do if your children are having a tough time, and you can model healthy coping skills for your children to support their emotional development.
Online learning doesn’t have to be chaotic or unpleasant. With coordination, planning, and patience, you can keep your children’s education on track without feeling overwhelmed and the entire family can have a happier fall at home.