Many school districts and families have decided to implement virtual learning for the 2020-2021 school year. As parents begin to charter this new territory, there are some tips that will help children and parents have an easier time adjusting.

Preparation is key.

  • Materials should be readily available and easy to access.

  • A designated learning space that is free from distractions, such as toys or the TV, is needed.

  • Having a schedule in place for daily routines is imperative. Build-in time for subject areas, as well as time for physical activity, much needed breaks, and lunch. Create the schedule, make adjustments as needed, but stick to a routine that works for both parents and the student. Also, consider adding time in to check emails, “meet” with the teacher, and review/plan assignments for the week.

  • Because virtual learning relies on technology, parents must ensure that Internet access, system requirements, and audio/visual components are functioning properly. If a meeting is scheduled, it is recommended to test the meeting site prior to the start of the meeting.

  • Virtual learning comes with numerous websites and logins. Create a secure method of saving usernames and passwords.

Grade Level Recommendations

For elementary students…

  • Children should get plenty of exercise. Physical activity helps kids think better by improving attention, motivation, and makes it easier to store information.

  • Learning barriers need to be removed. If children are easily distracted by their surroundings, determine what is causing the distraction and either remove those items, or relocate to a different area.

  • Reward students for a job well done or great effort. Compliment students on tasks that they are working hard to complete, have submitted on time, or are eager to finish. This positive feedback can be something as simple as a checkmark, sticker, or a high five.

  • Learning progress should be checked regularly. This is especially important for older students that are able to work independently on assignments. Parents should review assignments for the week and help their children prioritize what work needs to be completed first. Creating a checklist will help students and parents know when tasks are due and stay focused.

  • Have fun with learning! Make jokes, share funny stories, and get students engaged with the material. If the content is not enjoyable, students will have a harder time learning the material.

For middle school students…

  • Taking notes, studying, and completing all assignments is necessary for virtual learning.

  • Students and parents must stay in touch with teachers. Parents should encourage students to advocate for themselves and contact the teacher directly when there are questions, concerns, or issues with assignments, content material, or technology.

  • Plan a virtual or socially distanced study date for students. Choose a subject or assignment that students are currently working on and plan for a group to get together to discuss or work together.

  • Stay positive. Be upbeat about the learning experience and let students know everyone is in the same situation. Take one day at a time and keep motivated.

  • Incorporate incentives for good work. Motivate students by offering rewards such as the use of electronics, favorite snacks, or get-out-of-chores card.

For high school students…

  • Encourage students to join or set up a virtual or socially distanced study group. Multiple groups can be formed with focus areas such as subject areas or preparing for the ACT, SAT, or AP exams.

  • Keep on top of assignments by staying organized. Use a planner or a time management app to track assignments and due dates. Parents can review the planner to check on progress.

  • Listening to music can help students to process information more efficiently and improve memory. Songs with lyrics can be distracting, so look for instrumental versions.

  • Students should stay in contact with teachers and ask for help when needed. Other resources are available such as Khan Academy and Tutor.com.

Parents, remember that you are not in this alone. Seek help, take care of yourself, and find ways to make this new learning experience work for you and your family. Reach out to available resources if needed (Behavioral Programs, EFMP, MFLC, Military OneSource, School Liaison).