You probably didn’t start 2020 thinking, “This is the year my kids do school from the kitchen table!” Instead, this situation was likely an unexpected—and unwelcome—disruption of a routine that worked perfectly fine. You know, that routine where your kids leave the house during the day?
We got through spring semester, but now it’s time to look forward to this fall. Most schools are preparing to reopen and fingers crossed they do! But some areas could be in for more remote learning at times over the next school year. The good news is that schools will better prepared this time round, and students have a better idea what to expect if they shift home again. Here are 8 tips that can help you keep learning on track if your student encounters remote learning again this fall.
Tip 1: Set a routine or schedule
Kids (and most adults!) thrive on routines. Set a regular wakeup time and regular mealtimes, establish study time, play time, and down time. Your routine can be as loose or as strict as you like, but getting up and dressed at a decent hour everyday will help everyone feel some semblance of normalcy during an abnormal time. Take a look at our sample schedule below. Download our Word version and edit to fit your family!
Tip 2: Carve out workspaces
Setting up an ideal home study environment is important. Some kids will do best under your eagle eye at the kitchen table while others will concentrate better at a desk in their room. Find spots throughout the house where kids (and parents!) can get work done. Aim for areas that have a flat workspace and few distractions, and avoid letting the kids do their work in their beds—they’ll sleep better at night if beds remain a place for sleeping rather than for working.
Tip 3: Change up subjects
The brain works best when things aren’t too monotonous. By working on just one topic or subject for long stretches of time, students may not learn that subject as well. Instead, encourage your kids to change topics or subjects a couple of times per hour to help keep their brains fresh throughout a study session.
Tip 4: Don’t just rely on digital learning days
America’s schoolteachers did a spectacular job of shifting to online teaching without notice, but the digital learning days that most students experienced last spring wasn’t a one-to-one replacement for full school days; fall semester will likely be better, but it’s an unknown at this point. Either way, brain drain is real and can happen during any break from a normal school routine. Augment your children’s school assignments with other learning opportunities to keep those minds sharp.
Start a family reading challenge—who can read the most books or pages in a week?
Challenge your kids to write a novel. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is technically in November, but there’s no rule saying you can’t take advantage of the NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program any time of year.
Set some quarantine resolutions and keep each other accountable. Everyone has something they’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time to study—well now there’s time!
It’s easy to become aimless and unproductive when daily routines are disrupted. Give each day more purpose by working with your children to set clear, manageable goals for each day and week. Consider setting up a sticker chart or other visual tracker where you can record goals and progress—Pinterest is full of ideas for setting up goal charts.
Tip 6: Encourage frequent breaks
Remote learning is tough. It’s a lot harder to concentrate at home than it is in the classroom, which means kids’ brains tire of focusing much more quickly. Kids will be happier and more productive if they take frequent breaks from learning activities.
Tip 7: Don’t forget about mental and physical health
Quarantine is tough for adults, but it’s much harder on kids. Since kids are struggling to cope with a new and scary situation, they will be even less able to prioritize their needs than usual. It’s up to us to ensure that our kids are learning, coping, and thriving.
Get outside. Go for walks, play tag, roll down a hill, and generally get silly.
Check out yoga for kids—there are lots of online options.
Talk through emotions. It’s okay for kids to grieve the things they’re missing out on!
Tip 8: Social distancing doesn’t mean being alone
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and you might be feeling particularly village-less at the moment. Thanks to the internet, we’ve got tons of options to help stay connected—take advantage! Ask friends and family if they’d be willing to pitch in with some remote learning. Here are some examples:
Math-savvy friends might help with math homework
Continue music lessons that were started before quarantine with video chats
Ask an artist friend to give drawing lessons
Set up story time with a circle of family and friends