Back to school is usually a time when you and your co-parent need to work together to organize every aspect of your child’s schedule – from school pick-ups to soccer games to music recitals. But this year, back to school is looking considerably different for many families.
With many children attending school completely online this fall, it’s important for you and your co-parent to adapt to the changing circumstances – and reinvent a parenting plan that best supports your child. Here are some tips to get you started:
Children function best if they have a schedule and clear expectations for each day. Have them wake up at the normal time – as though they’re getting ready for school. Have them shower, brush their teeth and have breakfast all before the online school day starts. This helps them to be mentally ready to learn.
You can also create a schedule list for each day. Many schoolteachers begin each day in this way, and it can help students to know what to expect – and reduce stress or anxiety.
A space for learning
Set up a designated study space for your child in your home. Letting your child set up their laptop on the couch in front of the TV, or on their bed, will not create an environment that’s conducive to learning – because your child is not used to working in those spaces. Even if you don’t have a separate office space, clearing out a corner of the kitchen to set up a table and chair can really help your child concentrate.
Real school mentality
It can be easy for children to treat online learning like something that’s less serious than in-person schooling. It’s important that you make it clear to your child that this is still real school – and attendance and homework matter. Check their assignments to ensure they’re keeping up with expectations.
None of us learn effectively when we’re denied time to stand up and move around. Get your child up and about between subjects. Encourage them to do jumping jacks or run around the backyard for five minutes. When they return to the next class, they’ll be more mentally alert.
In addition, discuss with your co-parent how you want to manage your child’s leisure activities. Since they’re now sitting in front of a screen all day for school, you may want to limit their TV, phone and computer use after school. Encourage them instead to read a book or play outside.
This is an unprecedented time for all of us. As parents, we need to roll with the punches and rethink what’s best for our children in these ever-changing conditions.