With the Omicron variant of COVID-19 surging in the past several weeks, it is becoming more of a reality that schools may close temporarily to keep you and your students safe. Though there is no guarantee that your school will close or remain open in Oregon, you can always take preliminary steps to prepare your child just in case they need to return to learning from home. That way, if schools do shut their doors even for a few weeks or months, your child can experience a smooth transition.
Here are a few tips to prepare your child for distance learning and create a supportive and studious environment at home.
Prepare a daily or weekly routine.
Children thrive in structured environments. When distance learning first went into place in 2019, many families struggled to create a new schedule that worked for everyone. Children faced much more unstructured time since COVID-19 shut down schools and extracurricular activities.
With 2019 in hindsight, you can plan ahead and prepare a possible distance-learning routine with your child. Some children may need a stricter schedule than others to help them get their schoolwork done on time and keep them productive. That includes waking up at the same time each morning instead of sleeping in, as many would be tempted to do with online learning.
Make sure to include time for exercise and getting outside. Kids of all ages need to take brain breaks to ensure they feel refreshed and ready to learn after a long day at the computer or inside.
Put together a learning area.
During distance learning, every student should have a quiet, clutter-free area at home to focus on schoolwork. They can do school online in that space, work on homework, and study. If your child shares a room or doesn’t have their own space in the house, you can create any quiet area into a designated learning spot.
It can be a section in their room with a desk and all toys and distractions put away. It can be in the living room for a few hours during the day with the TV turned off and space cleared off for their laptop or schoolwork. By reducing clutter and taking away distractions, students can focus better on their learning.
Remove as many distractions as possible.
At home, there are so many things that can distract us. Games, toys, electronics, social media, pets, food, and even other people can all take away from your child’s designated learning time. You may not be able to remove all of the distractions, but it can be helpful to reduce as many as you can.
Make a list with your child of all the possible things that distract them from work. Then come up with ways to reduce or remove these distractions during their school time. You might need to keep your pets in another room or block any online games or social media. If your student doesn’t need to use the Internet for their schoolwork, you can even turn off the Wi-Fi at home to prevent them from sneaking onto social media during those hours.
Keep your child organized.
If your student has trouble staying organized on their own, then learning from home might be a big challenge for them. You can take a few steps to help them keep track of deadlines and important tasks.
You can create a color-coded calendar with due dates marked in red. For bigger assignments, you can break them down so that your child knows what they need to get done for their project each day before the actual deadline.
You can also create a daily task list that your child needs to complete. If they are old enough, have them either create the task list at the beginning of each week or in the morning every day of all the tasks, assignments, chores, and other things they need to get done. Make sure to include brain breaks and exercise in that list of tasks!
Communicate openly with your child.
Keeping open communication with your child about what’s going on is crucial in preparing them for distance learning. Even if your school district doesn’t end up closing, talk to your child about what’s going on in the moment, so they don’t become nervous or feel unprepared. Ask them how they think about school and if they have any concerns, fears, or questions.
By checking in with them periodically and showing that you’re listening, they may feel more inclined to share openly with you about their positive and negative emotions. By keeping communication open, your child may feel more mentally and emotionally prepared if schools end up moving to distance learning before the end of the school year.
Emily currently lives in Orange County, California after spending four years in Illinois and half a year teaching in Florence, Italy. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Knox College and an M.A. in Counseling from the University of San Diego and has taught English to native speakers and ESL students for over three years. When she’s not working as a School Counselor or writing, she enjoys traveling the world, playing instruments, and blogging about Millennial experiences at Long Live the Twenties.