School has taken on a new form for many families and students all across the country. Living rooms and kitchens have been converted into classrooms. Working parents have taken on the role of teacher, principal, and classmate. Students are navigating through virtual lessons, online meet-ups, and limited social interactions with peers. Despite this new version of learning, achieving academic success doesn’t have to remain elusive. Here are a few ways you can help your child experience success in this uncharted time of home learning.
Create and Maintain a Learn-Friendly Workspace
Several factors should be considered in creating and maintaining a workspace that promotes learning. Choosing the right location is one of the most important elements in providing a learn-friendly area for your child. Here are a few questions to consider:
“Does this area have limited distractions?”
Minimizing distractions such as younger siblings playing, a TV running, a parent working by phone will create an environment that promotes focused learning. However, especially in cases with younger elementary age children, it is important to choose a spot where you can easily supervise or assist in your child’s school day. Additionally, removing clutter in or near the workspace will also limit possible distractions.
“Does this area have good lighting and ample workspace?”
While sitting in bed with your laptop may be comfortable, it may not lend itself to quality learning. A well-lit area keeps the brain more engaged and places less strain on the eyes. Having plenty of space to set your computer, worksheets, books, etc. is also helpful in maximizing the learning experience.
“Does this area contain all the necessary tools needed for learning?”
Your learning space should have writing utensils, notebooks, and an outlet on-hand. As many students will spend hours each day online, make sure your learning space is comfortably situated near an outlet. If your child has to disengage from a lesson to hunt down paper, another pencil, or a battery charger then learning will be disrupted. If working at a desk, keep a drawer well-stocked with standard items a child would use in the classroom. If working at a table, keep supplies in a pencil box that can be placed in the area for quick access.
At the end of each day, make sure supplies are restocked, work area is cleared off, excess clutter is removed, and tablets or laptops are fully charged. Having a clean, well-supplied workspace each day will provide a strong start to your child’s school day.
Set-up Virtual Study Group Times with Other Students
Find a platform that will allow your child to virtually interact with other students/friends in the class. At school, students typically collaborate throughout the day with their peers in regards to a lesson, project, or assignment. This is not only helpful in reinforcing the lesson, but also gives students a chance to develop social interaction skills. If possible, try to set-up times throughout the week when your child can meet up with a classmate online to complete an assignment or project or study for a test together. With younger children, supervision may be needed to keep them on task. However, upper elementary and middle school students should be given opportunities to work with their peers unassisted as often as possible. These virtual study group times will keep your child interested in learning, reinforce lessons taught, and alleviate some of the pressure on you to review concepts being taught daily.
Form a Parent Support Group
Reach out to parents in your social circle and see if you can form a “support group.” One parent may excel in math; one parent may enjoy science; one parent may like reading/writing. By teaming up, you can reduce your workload and maintain your sanity. If each parent in the group took a day or subject, your child would have access to other “teachers.” One parent could virtually meet-up with the kids and do the math worksheet with the group; likewise, another parent could do the same with a different assignment/subject. You could also use this opportunity to discuss with other parents recent or upcoming concepts that were a concern. Sometimes just knowing you have a few people in your corner can help you wade through challenging moments that this school year will bring.
Establish Realistic Expectations and Goals
This school year will be unlike any previous experience most parents/students have faced before. With that in mind, goals and expectations may need to be adjusted to alleviate unnecessary stress and anxiety. Learning methods will be different. Embracing and adapting to that reality will help you form goals that are realistic and achievable. Peers, other parents, or tutors can provide additional assistance if you feel your child is falling behind. By having attainable goals, your child will be more likely to enjoy the school year. Intentionally create times to positively encourage your child’s progress throughout the week. Praise them for their effort, progress, ideas, organization, initiative, and creativity. These accomplishments are just as important as concept mastery and GPA.
Though this school year will present new challenges, academic success can still be achieved. The attitude we as adults embrace will be the attitude our children carry into this school year. By providing a warm, positive learning environment at home, we give our children a solid footing in an otherwise uncertain time.
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