A Virtual New World – 12 Tips for Going Back to School Virtually

By August 5, 2020 Blog

Virtual learning is changing the way that scholars learn. And although the environment may look different, relationships are still vital to the learning process. Parents and caregivers offer some of the most critical guidance that scholars need to succeed in their academic journey.

The support that is needed from parents is much the same as in the traditional brick-and-mortar school. This includes support, accountability, and involvement in what your scholar is working on. However, there are some unique challenges with online learning that parents must learn to develop. Compass is the gold standard in teaching virtually, and we share some great tips for successfully preparing for a year, unlike any we have had before.

1. Familiarize Yourself with Your Scholar’s Virtual Learning Platform

Scholars who are taking virtual classes are now immersed in an online platform. Take time to learn about this platform, how your scholar is using it, and what resources you can use to support them.

Start by exploring the orientation resources provided by the online learning platform alongside your scholar; walk through the process with your scholar so that they are comfortable accessing their courses, assignments, grades, and more. Spend time familiarizing your scholar and yourself with the new communication offered, for example, video conferencing tools like Zoom, Google docs, online resources, apps, emails, etc. 

Communication between scholars, teachers, and parents is critical in virtual learning. Many of these course providers offer parent portal, be sure to locate and review these tools to monitor your scholar’s progress. It may be your scholar’s course, but familiarizing yourself with the program will help you effectively provide support.

2. Prepare Mentally

This has been a challenging summer; we have all scrambled to keep our children busy with the Covid-19 restrictions. It is now the time to set your scholar’s sleep schedules back to “school-time.” Perhaps, utilize a timer to get your scholars accustomed to focusing for specific periods. Encourage your scholar to sit down and read or start focused activities. Review what your kids can expect on the first day of school at home, so they feel more mentally prepared. It is beneficial to sit down with your scholar and discuss how they feel about everything and how they see things going at home.

3. Model Persistence, Dedication, and Hard Work

To be successful in a virtual world, there takes a certain amount of self-directed motivation and effort. This motivation may or may not come naturally for your scholar; getting accustomed to self-pacing and working through the usual, productive struggles of learning more independently can be challenging. Parents can model competent, disciplined work, and dedication. They can demonstrate to their scholar, the use of the skills that they are learning in the real world.

Discuss your scholar’s goals and fears. Tell them about the new projects you are working on at work or home, a new skill that you are trying to master, and the challenges that you face. For example, do you have a big presentation over Zoom coming up at work? Share with your scholar the extra time you are investing and preparing for the call. Take time to sit down with them while working on school work and tackle some projects of your own. Demonstrating your own dedicated work and motivation can help your scholar model a similar path.

4. Set Up a Designated Workspace

The environment can make a huge difference in one’s mindset and ability to focus, especially for scholars new to virtual learning. Design a space that is the most effective for them to stay focused, yet at ease, comfortable, and motivated. Think about your scholar’s individual personality as a starting point to create a workspace. If your scholar thrives in a quiet space, make sure they have a comfortable desk in a quiet area. If your scholar needs a little more interaction, perhaps a desk, table in the living room, or kitchen may be a better option. Make sure that your scholar has easy access to the supplies and materials to be successful, including a set of good headphones, a wireless mouse, plenty of paper, note pads, pens, and other office supplies.

5. Help Your Scholar Build a Schedule

One of the highlights of virtual learning is the flexibility that it offers. Although, this flexibility can come at a cost, providing less structure than a traditional classroom setting. Scholars need to build their own routines and effectively manage their time. It is essential to have a well-thought-out daily schedule, and parents can be a huge help in building this schedule.

Let your scholars choose a planner tool that they are excited about using. Build a plan or routine outline with your scholar for school work and activities. Design a family calendar that tracks everyone’s activities and commitments. Set up weekly meetings to review your scholar’s schedule along with the whole family. Schedule times during the week to check in with your scholar and see where they are thriving and where they need additional assistance.

6. Organize for This Busy New Season

Make sure to get the lists of technology, literature, school supplies, and books that your scholar needs. Go through last year’s supplies before going out to buy more. Re-use plastic tubs to organize school supplies. Include your scholars in back-to-school shopping by letting them pick out their supplies. Set a plan for organizing supplies and keeping them that way. Using sticky notes to flag essential items can be very beneficial. Make sure that their files for vaccination records and other vital documents are easily accessible. 

7. Get Your Scholar’s Sleep Routine in Check

Set the alarm or notification for 30 minutes before bedtime. Set new regular weekday and weekend bedtime routines. Make a plan to eliminate technology devices from your child’s bedroom to focus solely on sleeping. Sound machines, night lights, or white sound machines can help with sleep.

8. Plan Morning Routines

Even though your scholar is now learning from home, make sure to set a clear morning routine. Make sure that you have loud alarms for the family. A checklist can be a great morning motivator. Make sure to map out the bathroom for each family member to avoid fights. Start with a healthy breakfast and a positive morning routine to start the day.  

9. Plan for Homework Time

Teachers are your biggest allies, communicate with them often. Your scholar’s teachers have seen another side of your scholar, and they know all that they are capable of in the classroom. Gather as much information as you can from your scholar’s teachers and use this to motivate your child at home. Discuss how your scholar is doing in school, both academically and socially. What are the areas of concern and the pace that your scholar works best at?

Organization is key in a virtual at-home environment. Teach your scholar to prioritize their tasks by making to-do lists with deadlines. Try to remove as many distractions as possible when your scholar is working on homework. Give them breaks, such as a short walk, when they finish an assignment. You can help your scholar organize their tasks and model good behavior by working on your own projects by their side. A homework caddy is an excellent tool to carry supplies into other areas of the house. And scheduling study blocks before big exams is always a smart idea. 

10. Build a Relationship with Your Scholar’s Teachers

Virtual teachers are first and foremost teachers. They are passionate about teaching, dedicated, and driven to see their scholars succeed. They want to get to know the scholar’s goals and aspirations, and they want to get to know the parents as well. 

Online learning requires strong communication between scholars and teachers. Be proactive in reaching out to them and sharing the best way to contact you via email, text, or telephone. Think of it as a partnership. When you see your scholar reaching new goals, making positive changes, or hitting important milestones, tell the teacher about it; it’s guaranteed that your child will appreciate the positive feedback. Ask all the questions that you have about your scholar, how they are doing, where do they need help, or what else can I be doing?

11. Take Time for Yourself

Make sure to schedule time for you! Do something every day to de-stress; take a walk, meditate, do yoga, read, take a bath, unwind; you need this time for you. When you take time for you, you are refreshed and better able to take on the day. You will be calm and ready to approach the new school year excited and prepared to work!

12. Don’t Stress About Your Scholar

Scholars grow and develop at different rates. Ideally, children will acquire various skills within expected periods, but they may develop more rapidly in one area than another. Parents often worry when, for example, one five-year-old can read fluently while another can barely sound out words on the page. But a lag in one area of development doesn’t mean a child has a disorder. If you think there might be a problem with your child’s development, talk to her teacher. A seasoned teacher, with about 10 years of experience, can frame your child’s progress with as many as 300 other kids. Good teachers are invaluable allies. (https://www.nymetroparents.com/article/How-To-Help-Your-Child-With-A-Psychiatric-or-Learning-Disability-Go-Back-To-School-20120822)

Check out some excellent additional back to school tips from The Speaking Polymath, who features Compass blogs and stories.

In conclusion, this pandemic is hard on all of us. As a Compass Family, we are here to offer guidance and support during this time. Please never hesitate to reach out to our staff, teachers, and team.

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