August 19, 2020
How you and your child can prepare for school at home.
This year, many parents are tasked with preparing their kids for a new kind of back-to-school: distance learning. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, districts across the country have replaced in-person classes with home-based schooling or are offering a mixed schedule combining in-person and home-based learning. Teaching your kids from home can be a challenging adjustment, but we're here to help with tips on getting ready from day one.
Back-to-school always means stocking up on school supplies, but this year the supplies may look a little different. For distance learning, students will need to have a computer, laptop or tablet in order to participate. Contact your school to find out what devices your child will need for the coming semester and how you can qualify for a free laptop. Most schools are working with technology companies to provide refurbished and new devices to ensure kids have this critical tool to ensure virtual learning success.
You'll also need to have reliable, fast Internet. Unfortunately, not all families have access to this type of connection. Cox's Connect2Compete program is offering two free months of low-cost home internet service with wifi for qualifying families who sign up through Sept. 30. Other benefits of this new Connect2Compete offer include remote desktop and phone support, access to the Cox Digital Academy for computer literacy training and educational resources, free WiFi and modem rental and access to discounted refurbished laptops and tech accessories.
With everyone in your household eating, sleeping, working and learning all under one roof, things can start to feel a bit crowded! That's why it's important to designate specific areas of your home for each activity. Finding an ideal workspace for your child can help boost their focus, reduce stress and encourage creativity. Consider a spare bedroom, office or even a hallway nook. Set up a simple desk or table with few visual distractions, and make sure there's an electrical outlet within reach so your child can plug in their necessary devices.
For more hands-on projects and arts and crafts, use the kitchen or dining room table. These areas can be more stimulating, so stock up on vision boards, flash cards, notebooks and art supplies. Keep a separate den or play area where your family can get together and relax at the end of the day.
Manage Your Time
One of the toughest things about learning from home? Creating a sense of structure. That's why it's so important to make a school-from-home schedule and stick to it. Try to identify the times your child is most receptive to learning, and designate those hours for the most focus-intensive tasks, like math or reading. For younger kids, offer breaks every 30 minutes or so.
Anchoring your day around mealtimes can also prove helpful. If work allows, get the family together for lunch at the same time each day. And finally, if you get off-track one day and everything devolves into chaos, don't beat yourself up. Sometimes everyone needs a break, and you can always try again tomorrow.
Keep on Moving
Physical activities like recess and physical education can help bolster academic performance, so setting time aside for movement is paramount. As part of your daily routine, be sure to include activities that will get your kid's blood pumping. Try to appeal to the things they already like to do. Is your child a dancer? Turn up the music and have a backyard dance party. Do they love basketball? Set up a hoop in your driveway or even your hallway.
You can also incorporate physical activity into family time. Try taking an online yoga class with your kid — some classes even cater to small children — or plan a hike in a local park or nature area. This can also prove a great opportunity to connect with your child and talk about what he or she is learning.
One of the biggest drawbacks to distance learning is social isolation. Kids crave interaction with their peers, and staying social is associated with increased cognitive ability and communication skills.
For younger children, try organizing virtual play dates, Zoom movie nights or socially distant meet ups at a park or in a spacious backyard. For older kids and teens, encourage them to complete assignments with friends using FaceTime or Zoom. You can also talk to your school and see if they have programs in place to increase connections among the students and/or teachers.
We're all adjusting to the new normal, and back to school is among the many changes forced by the pandemic. Hopefully, these tips will ensure a great start to the school year and success for your child, whether they're learning at home, in school — or some combination.