Back to school is going to look very different this year as many of us are preparing our kids for virtual learning from home. As we prepare for this “new normal” there are some ways we can make the transition easier for our kids and ourselves.
- Create a routine. Just as when kids attended school in person, a routine can help the day run more smoothly. This helps your child know what to expect and what is expected of them. A normal bedtime on school nights is important. Have your child get dressed for school, eat breakfast, and brush their teeth before virtual learning Set rules for the “classroom,” such as no “extra” electronic devices like phones or handheld video games or other toys that may be a distraction, so they can focus on the lessons at hand. Your child’s teacher may also set rules for the virtual classroom, and you should be aware of these rules and enforce them as well.
- Make a dedicated space for school. You don’t need an entire room for school, but find a quiet area in your house where your child can focus on their schoolwork and be free from distractions. If a quiet space is hard to come by, a pair of age appropriate and comfortable headphones may help them. Ideally, your child will have a chair with a desk, table, or counter for their device to sit on, as well as some space for writing. You may also want to provide a space with more comfortable seating like a pillow, beanbag, or your child’s bed for quiet reading time only. It is important for small kids to be able to have breaks built into their schedule (within the bounds of the schedule set by the school, if any) and some time to move around or go outside if possible. Outdoor “recess” during the day is just as important as the classroom lessons.
- Make supplies accessible to your kids. Put the supplies your child needs for school in an area near their workspace, and where they can reach them themselves. This can prevent you from being interrupted to find supplies for your child throughout the day, and helps your child be responsible for their own things, as they would be at school. If you don’t have a lot of space, you can use your child’s backpack, or a small plastic bin or basket tucked under their desk or table, to store supplies.
- Utilize the resources at your school. Remember that, even though you are at home with your child you don’t have to take on the role of teacher, counselor, principal, and parent. All of the education professionals at your child’s school are still there and are available to you. Don’t be afraid to advocate for your child if you feel they are struggling. Reach out to your child’s teacher, the school principal, or the counselor if you feel your child needs extra help. And remember, your child’s pediatrician is also there to help, answer questions, and be an advocate for your child as well.
By Dr. Leanne DePalma, Pediatrician