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Last Updated On: January 20th, 2021

With the recent turn of events, many students, parents, and teachers (including myself) have been suddenly thrust from in-person learning to online learning and home schooling. For students with strong online programs or teachers who have mastered online teaching, the structure might be set for you. In many cases, however, this is a new learning experience for everyone. So how can you make the most of this time?

First, don’t stress too much! This is a difficult situation, so no one is expected to do it perfectly. Be patient with teachers who might be new to online teaching, and be patient with yourself and your kids if you’re not used to guiding them through their education. Even as a credentialed teacher and professional tutor, I’m finding it difficult to take on my new role as my young daughter’s teacher when she is used to going to school. I can only imagine the challenges felt by parents without a background in education!

Try to set up daily and weekly routines as much as possible, while leaving flexibility for work and personal needs. Because many parents need to work, the schedule might not be the same every day, but it’s helpful to set up some kind of routine for children to follow. Some parents find it helpful to set and post a daily schedule, but if that becomes too stressful, you can also make a list of goals to accomplish during the day with a more flexible schedule.

Distinguish between social time and learning time, especially with online learning tools. During this time when just about everything has moved online and the line between social and educational has blurred, it can sometimes be hard to focus on academics. Personally, I find it helpful (anytime) to close email and social media sites, and sometimes also silence my phone, when I have an assignment or task to complete on my computer. If social sites are open during academic time, it can be hard to give sustained focus to any one lesson or assignment. That said, sometimes posting projects and activities on social media can be a great motivator for students. I’ve found that my own daughter gets very excited when she gets to create and post something on her class Seesaw page. One of my friend’s son and daughter have made funny and informative videos and posted them on YouTube.

The Internet is an excellent source of resources and activities, but don’t feel like you have to explore every one of them. I’ve found that the amount of online resources can be overwhelming, but when I do dive in and check them out they’re often fun and helpful. Give priority to anything the teachers assign. If you have time beyond that, you might try out one or two new sites per day, but don’t feel like you have to explore them all. Also, make the most out of home learning opportunities. Some of my friends, for example, have assigned their kids a day of the week to set the menu and prepare dinner.

Lastly, don’t expect perfection. Most states have cancelled annual standardized testing because they know this is not an ideal learning situation for anyone. When school resumes, we’ll all be working together to get everyone on the same page and back on track. In the meantime, we’re all doing the best we can!

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