Back to school? Or stay at home? For many people, school this year may look a little different. Many schools are keeping students at home doing remote learning while other schools are having students participate in a mix of both remote and in-person learning.
Having your children learning from home may seem like a nightmare or overwhelming task. Or it may seem intimidating to turn your home into your child’s school. But don’t worry, we have the best ways to create a more effective and comfortable environment for your child to get the best education while learning remotely.
- Communicate with your child’s school. It’s important to determine what your child’s school expects and what resources the school is planning to offer. Make sure to communicate with the teacher to get a clear idea of how and when the teacher will conduct remote classes and also figure out due dates and how your child is expected to submit work and track progress.
- Set aside a designated learning space. Try to dedicate a specific and separate space just to your child’s remote learning. When designing and setting up this area, focus on the needs of your child. Make sure they feel some ownership of the space. Consider color choices, seating, supplies, and atmosphere (like whether or not your child learns and works well with music) when building the space. If you aren’t able to designate a specific area to remote learning, try to have your child do their work in the same place every time like always having them sit at the kitchen table or use the same chairs or the same lap desk in the living room. This will help build a routine and further separate work and play.
- Ensure your child has the technology they need. Choose a location that will have a good wi-fi connection since remote learning requires the internet. Talk with your child's teacher to determine what type of devices your child can use. If you do not have access to a web-accessible device (computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.), reach out to friends, family, or the school district.
- Remove or minimize distractions. Remove toys and games from the designated learning space. Gently monitor your child’s use of electronics. Remove or block distracting apps from their devices. If you can, consider dedicating a specific device just to schoolwork.
- Make the learning space visual and light. When setting up your child’s learning space, try to choose a spot that has a lot of natural light or else find artificial lighting that mimics sunlight. (A great way to increase natural light is to use mirrors to reflect the light you do have.) Studies show that lighting can have an effect on your child’s energy, health, achievement, and attention levels. Lighting is only part of what makes a space great. Make sure to include a lot of visuals for your child. Put up posters that motivate your child and encourage learning. Find things they are interested in and switch it up so the space stays engaging and interesting.
- Add books. Giving your children access to books is proven to increase their enjoyment of reading, books, and academics. Gather books that will encourage your child to explore and expand their learning. Books are a great opportunity to allow your child to learn on their own, separate from their schoolwork. Collect books from local libraries or thrift shops if you don’t want to spend too much.
- Create a schedule and stick to it. School at home may feel chaotic and it may be difficult to stick to any routine or be productive. Creating a schedule will greatly help bring normalcy and order to your homeschooling. Choose a consistent start and end time and make sure to include times for recess, lunch, and small breaks. Once you and your child together have determined the schedule, post it up on the wall so it’s easy for your child to see and follow. Let your child make choices regarding their schedule. And most importantly, be consistent! If you don’t follow your schedule, then it won’t help keep your child on task and happy. Pro-Tip: To tell get your child into the mindset of school without having them get on a bus and go to the classroom, consider making them get dresses in school-specific clothes that they can then take off when school “ends” for the day. This will help solidify a difference between school and play.
- Be aware of mental health. It is so important to communicate with your child and be especially aware of their mental health during this time. The pandemic and being cooped up inside has increased anxiety and stress in children. This article has some great tips for managing your child’s anxiety. We also suggest you follow a few things we think can help:
- Give your child control. With so much uncertainty and so many things being out of our control, it’s important to identify what we can control. Let your child have a say in their routines and other small decisions.
- Stay connected. Frequently ask how your child is doing and listen to them. If you need to, seek professional help. Often we are unaware of how a child truly feels so it's very important to ask and communicate.
- Stick to your schedule. Developing a routine can help children to feel less anxious and can minimize the amount of change that can potentially disrupt a child’s happiness and well-being.
- Be aware of the signs. Watch your child closely and try to determine how they show their anxiety. This can help you to catch any anxiety they are feeling early and manage it easier. Some examples of common symptoms include restlessness, trouble sleeping, and difficulty concentrating.
- Incorporate non-electronic learning. The internet and social media do not help in minimizing our anxiety. Try to mix up how your child is learning by adding in activities that involve their hands. Do arts and crafts or encourage your child to go outside.
It’s easier than you think to help your child succeed with remote learning. Following our tips can make the experience positive and effective for both you and your child.