At-Home Learning: Setting Up Your Kids for Success This School Year
No school year in the past has presented as much of a challenge for parents as the one starting this fall. As both parents and school districts navigate tough decisions about whether to reopen, and to what extent, parents face the challenge of figuring out how to set their kids up for success in new learning environments, whether they are in a new classroom environment or at your kitchen table.
Here are a few ideas that your family may find useful as you start to gear up for the school year.
1. Set up an at-home learning or homework zone.
Even if your child’s school plans to reopen in-person this fall, consider your backup plan in case the district needs to switch to remote learning on short notice.
Setting up a dedicated homework/studying space is ideal. Depending on your budget and available space, here are a few items you may want to include in your at-home learning zone:
- A desk or other workstation: A personal desk for your child isn’t essential as long as they have a dedicated space where they can work in peace and quiet. This could be the dining table or another workspace in your home.
- A laptop or tablet with video capabilities: If these devices are outside of your budget, contact your child’s school to see if they offer loaner equipment or discounts to make these devices more affordable.
- Kid-friendly headphones to block out distractions in the home: Make sure they’re appropriately sized to fit your child’s head.
- A printer: This may be necessary if your child needs to print materials at home. Ask your child’s teacher and/or school if this equipment is necessary, or if other options—such as having print materials mailed or picking them up from school—are available.
- Traditional school supplies: Stock up on all the items on your child’s school supplies list, including pens, pencils, notebooks, and organizers.
2. Set up a schedule for the school day (even a flexible one).
Distance learning is most effective when parents can provide structure to the school day. Try to stick to as many school-day routines as you can, such as having your kids wake up at the same time, get dressed as if they were going to school, and eat breakfast prior to the start of the school day.
Create a schedule that includes adequate breaks for your child to rest their eyes, eat snacks and lunch, get outside, enjoy free play, and socialize with friends online.
3. Minimize distractions during the school day wherever possible.
When children are doing their schoolwork, do your best to limit distractions, including phones, TV, and background noise.
This can be challenging when multiple children are sharing a space or when parents and children are trying to do their work side by side, but these distractions can inhibit learning by pulling your child’s attention away from school.
4. Try out other educational and entertainment ideas at home.
Kids can get burned out with distance learning. Trying out new learning experiences and entertainment can keep kids busy outside of school hours and bring some newness to each day.
Getting outside for “at-home recess” or “P.E.” is a great way to break up the day and have fun! On a rainy day, educational resources including video games, television shows, crafts, and other interactive activities can get kids excited about learning.
You can also take your child’s education beyond the standard curriculum to give them exposure to other topics and skills, such as financial literacy. Check out these educational tools and fun personal finance games to find age-appropriate options for your kids.
All of us, parents and kids alike, are navigating new and challenging circumstances when it comes to preparing for school in the fall. Taking small steps to prepare for the school year now can help your family feel more prepared to take it on as a team!