With virtual school looming upon us and many families choosing some type of virtual schooling, I felt like this was a good time to blog some tips. I know many parents don’t feel like they are capable or adequate at this new type of “homeschooling”. It has been very stressful making decisions about school this year. It has been hard on the teachers and school administration trying to figure out how best to meet the needs of students in the midst of a pandemic. It has been equally stressful for parents making the decision of which option is best for their child. There are no easy answers! If you have decided to do virtual schooling, these tips can really help. For most of you, these are things you already know but when stress hits sometimes we forget the obvious.
Here are my tips for parents and caregivers to help the child succeed:
Have a designated work/school space. This will create a sense of school. The only thing that should be done in this area is school work. Children need to associate this space with school. This can be a designated room or something as small as a desk or a corner area of the house. This area should be quiet and free of distractions (as much as possible). If possible. a room with a door that is able to close to keep out distractions is optimal. The area needs to be well lit and preferably have a desk or table. Keep school supplies needed in your “school area”. Remember, you are trying to simulate the feel of a classroom.
Make a schedule! Customize the child’s scheduled based on assigned class times. Place the schedule on the wall or someplace visible. Make sure that you schedule in any breaks, seat work or homework for the day. This will help your child know what to expect daily. My personal preference is to build in the routine for the entire day on the schedule, not just school.
Make sure that you have adequate working WIFI. Also make sure that you have adequate equipment for classes. A laptop, Chromebook or desktop computer usually work best. You want them to be able to have a large screen so they are able to see assignments.
Become familiar ahead of time with the virtual platform your school district will be using. It will be much less stressful than trying to figure it out in front of your child when doing virtual school. Some platforms have guides, resources and tips for parents.
Create a calendar system. What do I mean? If your child has homework assignments or papers that are going to be due at a later date, create a visual calendar with the due dates. If your child knows ahead of time when they will have a test or exam, put it on the calendar. This will help everyone keep track and help with executive functioning. Depending on your child, you may also want to add any appointments or outside activities to that calendar. Some children work better with one calendar, others need more than one. My son needed a calendar just for school assignments.
Build good relationships with the teachers and school team. It is important for your child that you work together as a team to support them. Introduce yourself and talk about how you can work together for the upcoming semester. Discuss any issues or concerns you may have about virtual learning at the beginning of the year. Throughout the year, check in periodically, especially if you are not getting any feedback. Make sure to contact them any time you have questions or concerns. Remember, you are building a rapport with the team.
Have open communications with your child. Foster their fears and anxiety and help them work through it. Let them talk about how they are feeling about virtual learning. Talk about what the school year will look like for the Fall. Help them feel more confident and calmer about this “new form of school”. Let them know this is scary for you too. As school progresses, be sure to keep communication open. Notice if they seem on edge or agitated doing classes or assignments. Talk about it. Let them know you can help them discuss things with their teacher.
Have fun! Since you are at home, this gives them more time to have fun! Make sure to schedule fun activities every day and plan a special outing if your child has a good day or good week!