With school back in session and many families schooling part-time or full-time from home, finding a good routine is imperative. Our Family Preservation Services staff worked together to compile a list of 6 helpful tips for families managing virtual school. Hopefully they help you and your children feel less stressed, anxious, or generally overwhelmed with this current school year.
Tip #1: Have a structured bedtime and wake-up routine.
Based on the wake-up time for your child, work your way backwards to figure out their bedtime. Figure out how many hours of sleep they need given their age (You can find those numbers here), and calculate their bedtime by counting backwards. For example, if your child needs to be up by 7am, and they require 10 hours of sleep, their bedtime should be around 9pm.
In addition to these structured bedtime and wake-up routines, cut off and remove electronic devices at bedtime to reduce chances of sleep disruptions. (This is important for adults too!)
Tip #2: Set a Start & Stop Time (Plus Scheduled Breaks)
Whether doing live schooling or webinar schooling, have a set start and stop time for school work along with scheduling breaks. Children (and adults) typically do better with structure and routine. By establishing a start time for school, your child can begin to anticipate this and it will become known that "every day at 8am, school work begins”. If they say they are done with their school work during school time, they can work on homework or read.
Tip #3: Have a set area in the house for the child to do their schooling.
This may be an office, kitchen counter or dining room table. Creating a set place to do schooling will become a cue for focusing on school work. Be sure to minimize distractions by turning off the television. Use of headphones can also be utilized to block out distractions. Have healthy snacks that are accessible while they do their schooling.
Tip #4: Monitor your child’s learning.
This may mean peaking at the screen from time to time, asking them to show you their school work, and verifying completion with the teacher or seeing grades in a school portal. Being involved in their school work will provide accountability and show your child that although schooling is different, you are still invested.
Tip #5: Parent/Teacher Relationships
Develop a relationship with your children’s teachers early in the school year, especially if your child tends to struggle with schoolwork. Figure out the best method to reach them (calling, email, text, app) by asking them for the best method and time of day.
Tip #6: Validation and Encouragement
Provide validation to your child throughout the process. Remind them that this process is new and will take time to learn this new way. Parents should provide a lot of encouragement and utilize desired activities/items by the child as incentives for completion of set school tasks.
Regardless of how your child’s schooling is happening for this year, these tips can help you to stay on track and keep moving forward.
If you are a parent and you need any further support, we have an array of mental health services for children and families to meet your needs. Our FPS division has an immense amount of practice dealing with school issues as this is a common area where children struggle. Give us a call at 616.451.2021.
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About Megan Zars
Megan graduated from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in 2011 with a degree in Public and Nonprofit Administration. After working a temporary role in the development department at GVSU, she landed herself an assistant job at DABSJ. This role evolved over the years and eventually lead to her role as Communications Specialist.
During her childhood, Megan's parents cared for 67 children in foster care and they grew their family through adoption four times, making Megan one of seven children. Megan has been married to her husband since 2014, has two beautiful boys, and is in process of adopting their third child. She loves to dance, garden, and share her story with others.