The upcoming school year will look like no other. It’s going to be a learning experience for everyone involved – parents, students, and teachers. Yet, there are still things to do, actions to put into place, to make sure this school year, as it begins with Distance Learning, is a successful one for your child.
And remember, “success” looks different for each child. Maybe this is the year your child discovers her love of reading, or becomes completely absorbed while researching the California Gold Rush. Success isn’t all about the grades on a report card.
With school closures all across California, the loss of face-to-face learning will no doubt be a challenge for our kids. But we can help by creating an engaging learning environment at home.
Distance Learning Support Resources
Here are our Top 12 Tips for Ensuring a Successful School Year
1. Set up a learning station.
You have the benefit of knowing what worked and didn’t work as your child finished up the last school year distance-learning from home. What do you need to change to make sure your child has a comfortable, effective learning station? (And remember, a child doesn’t necessarily need a desk. The kitchen table, a tray table, a clipboard can all work. You know your child best.)
2. Ask your child about supplies.
While many supplies can’t be purchased until a teacher sends home a specific request, you can stock up on the essentials – pencils, crayons, printer paper. But get your child involved. Maybe this is the year your child wants to transition to pen instead of pencil or from a slim, softcover dictionary to a heavy, hardcover edition.
3. Don’t forget recess and lunch.
Recess and lunch are going to look different, but your child still needs down-time and the opportunity to play and have fun. Some days, that might mean just a quiet activity like reading, sketching, or completing a word search. But don’t skimp on physical activity. Have a dance party. Invest in some new equipment (jump ropes, hula hoops, Frisbees, balls). Play tag. Draw a chalk hopscotch outside and play. Go for a walk in your neighborhood.
4. Start with breakfast.
You may be tempted to overlook breakfast, since your child isn’t leaving the house. He/she can just eat in-between lessons, right? Wrong. Start the day like a traditional school day. Make sure everyone is awake with enough time to sit down and eat a non-rushed, healthy breakfast.
5. Get dressed.
Just because you’re learning from home, doesn’t mean you should stay in your pajamas all day. Getting dressed as you would for school, whether it’s a school uniform or not, definitely puts you in a different mindset. It sends a message that you’re dressed as a student, ready to learn. (Shoes remain optional.)
6. Get enough sleep.
The kids might be learning from home and not dealing with the chaos of crowded school hallways and all their usual extracurricular activities, but that doesn’t mean their need for sleep has changed. Don’t think that since their days are “less full” they need less sleep.
7. Take it seriously.
School looks different. Our kids won’t start the year in a traditional classroom. And at times, it doesn’t feel like school. But, don’t let your child lose sight that this is still school. It still requires attention, focus, commitment, and effort. Don’t disregard or make disparaging comments about any of your child’s classes or lessons simply because they’re taking place at your kitchen table.
8. Maintain a connection with your child’s school.
You won’t be seeing your child’s teachers at drop-off and pick-up. But, it is just as imperative to remain in regular contact with your child’s teachers and counselors. Make sure you know the best way to keep in touch (email, school website, etc.).
9. Remind your child to ask questions.
Your child won’t be raising his hand in the traditional sense. However, remind your child it is still imperative to ask – questions, for clarification, for help of any kind.
10. Build in mini-breaks.
Your child’s school day isn’t non-stop work. Remember, there are usually passing periods. Transition times. Clean-up between activities. Make sure your child has those same opportunities to pause and shift gears at home too. Maybe it’s a five-minute walk outside. Maybe it’s three minutes to check a favorite website.
11. Enlist your child’s help.
Ask your child to think back to former school years, former classrooms, former teachers. What worked well? What are some of their favorite memories? Is there anything you can replicate at home? Perhaps, silent reading time after lunch? Maybe his fourth grade teacher always read aloud to the class for the first 10-15 minutes after lunch? Maybe his kindergarten teacher had soft, calming music playing in the classroom as the kids came in from recess.
12. Trouble-shoot now.
We all have the benefit of having done distance-learning before. Think back to those last few months of the last school year. What worked? What technology issues were you running into? Try to get those resolved before school starts. Don’t hesitate to contact your child’s school with questions or concerns. Office staff should be on-site to assist you (or at least point you in the right direction where you can get answers).