The Switch to Online Learning

By Allison Rodriguez

Traditionally, the back-to-school season means a new chapter, with blank pages, on which anything can happen. However, this school year will be unlike any other before. With a large majority of school districts incorporating some form of online learning, parents should prepare their children (and themselves) for the switch. Tackling online learning can seem daunting and stressful at first, but a little prior planning will make the transition easier for students. These simple tools will help your child adapt to a different learning environment and prepare them for a successful school year.

First, develop a schedule that follows their typical school day as much as possible.  According to a study from MIT, children are most productive in the mornings, so those early hours should be utilized for classwork.  It can also be helpful to include time for a nutritious meal, playtime, and some sort of physical activity.  Once you have created a schedule, observe your child in action.  Analyze whether your child is embracing the schedule or struggling to keep up. It is important to remember to include flexibility in your child’s learning plan and allow them to take breaks if necessary.  A schedule that prioritizes both productivity and mental health will give your child the confidence they need to tackle their assignments.

Prior to the first day of class, ensure that your child has their own learning space.  It can be tempting to let children work on the floor or in bed, but this may be detrimental to their progress in the classroom.  Teachers interviewed by the Chicago Tribune noted that they have seen a significant difference in focus and performance with children who have a designated learning space versus children who work in spaces where they sleep and play.  Involving your child in the process of creating their “classroom” can encourage them to embrace their new situation.  The learning area should have adequate lighting, a comfortable chair, and a quiet atmosphere.  Eliminating television and other electronic devices not used for school in a child’s workspace removes distractions, which will only benefit their online learning experience.  These small changes to your home are essential for maximum benefit of distance education.

During any big adjustment, communication is key.  Physical parent/teacher conferences may be delayed, but that doesn’t mean that your child’s teacher should be a stranger.  Reach out to your child’s teacher prior to the school year and familiarize them with your student.  It can be helpful to discuss any challenges you anticipate your child encountering with the online format and ask any questions about the curriculum or the structure of the classroom prior to the year beginning.

Last but not least, set reminders to reward your child for prospering in their new learning environment.  Students are not only lacking social interaction, but positive reinforcement and praise from educators.  Simple ways to incorporate affirmation into your child’s routine include stickers for a difficult assignment or an increased amount of play/screen time.  Congratulating your child for the completion of tasks and other classroom achievements will give them the confidence boost and excitement for their education they need to be successful.

Follow these tips and your child will be ready to conquer this unique school year!