Many school districts are opting to teach students virtually this fall semester or at least offering parents the option to select online instruction instead of potentially exposing kids and families to this relentless Covid19 virus. If this is your first experience with virtual education, an at-home school day might be a slightly overwhelming and uncertain decision for you. Take comfort in the knowledge that virtual instruction is not new, and many, similar programs have been incredibly successful in properly teaching and preparing students for their next grade all the way up to college.
If you have not enjoyed online education before, there will be an adjustment period, and motivation to stay-the-course might waver, however, the more you can do now to prepare yourself, your family and your student, the better off you will be. Below, find 7 fabulous ways to prepare for this upcoming virtual school year and ensure a stronger motivation to succeed this fall.
HAVE A DEDICATED SCHOOL AREA
Provide each student with their own private and quiet area for learning. Have them be part of the decision. Whether they want to work on the sofa, at a desk, or on the floor, make certain that area is solely used for school time. Have your student decorate this space as they wish to enhance their happiness, creativity, and motivation throughout the day. Keep that area tidy and organized with a pre-determined system for all necessary materials per class/topic.
CREATE A DAILY & WEEKLY CALENDAR
If not provided by your school, design and implement a calendar with your student which will include an hourly schedule with goals to complete lessons, assignments, and projects. Do not forget to include stretch times, lunch, and snack breaks, as well as playtime. Craft the calendar with your student and involve them in all decisions. Setting a schedule with clear expectations will alleviate confusion and frustration and encourage completion as long as it is realistic.
IMPLEMENT A REWARD SYSTEM
Rewards are always a fabulous motivator. When setting goals for your calendar, perhaps each accomplishment receives a marble, sticker, or voucher, and if your student manages to accumulate a certain number of them by the end of the day/week (your choice) then they can be rewarded with whatever you know will interest your child, maybe extra playtime, a trip to the park, quality time with you, etc.
When projects are completed or good grades achieved, make sure to dedicate an area to display them. Allow your student to see and understand their progress so they can be proud of their accomplishments. Decide, together, which ones might be worth celebrating in a grander manner, if necessary, for continued motivation.
Communication is vital in all aspects of a successful life, and so it is here, as well, for your virtual school day. Open and honest communication between teachers, students and parents is vital for a successful, online educational experience. Make sure you know exactly what is expected of you and your student and don’t be afraid to ask questions or help with anything you might need. The teachers are there for you. They want to see you and your student succeed and enjoy this new experience. Clarity will relieve all future frustrations and the only way to understand everything you need to know is to effectively communicate with all those involved including your student.
MAKE LEARNING FUN
No one knows their child more than a parent so use this knowledge to make the at- home school day enjoyable and even more special for your student. Provide opportunities for little ones to play while they are learning, find relevant games, experiments, or videos to teach certain topics, and don’t be afraid to take the lessons away from the computer screen and out into nature or your community. Engaging, hands-on activities are proven to boost comprehension and retention, so take this opportunity out of the brick-and-mortar classroom to further enhance your child’s growth and development.
Your student might not be physically surrounded by dozens of peers while online schooling, however, this doesn’t mean you are alone. Meaningful relationships and collaborations can still develop away from the classroom, it just might require a little more planning. Certain online schools will be offering after-school, online clubs or group projects and discussions, but if yours doesn’t, take it upon yourself to create ways for your child to form connections with others as this will boost happiness and motivation. Start a study group or play groups with friends (virtual or in person). Develop an after-school club of your own according to your child’s interests. Volunteer within your community. If you have an older student, develop relationships with neighborhood businesses and begin internship programs where your student will learn real-world skills while helping local businesses for free during these difficult times. Most of us need to be around friends and family to be happy. The same is likely with your student so make certain to encourage these relationships regularly and foster them in a safe way.
This school year, or at this least this upcoming fall semester, will be different, for sure. You may find that online schooling is not well-suited for your student, on the other hand, you might find that this opportunity is actually a fantastic, new educational experience you might want to enjoy permanently for your family going forward. Either way, adopting the 7 bits of advice mentioned above, to encourage and motivate your student, will most likely improve your situation. Keep a positive attitude and an open mind! You can do this!