Fall can be a challenging time of year for students who use WiFi cables to get to school instead of a bus. E-learners and homeschoolers can experience FOMO, or fear of missing out, on traditional back to school experiences.
Fear not, digital learning families! You, too, can (and should) create back to school memories and traditions. Check out these suggestions to help your online students have a fantastic start to their school year!
Make It Special
Your child may not be leaving the house, but it’s important to remember that they have a first day of school, too. Make it a special! If your child’s online program doesn’t have a specific start date, set one around the same time as your local school district. Help your child pick an outfit they love, take the obligatory first day of school photos, and plan a special lunch or snack to celebrate the start of a new year!
Get Them Off the Couch
Set up a work space for your child that is specifically devoted to schoolwork. This space must be away from distractions such as televisions and high-traffic areas in your home. Organize school supplies in the work space so that you and your child aren’t wasting time searching for materials. Use simple decorations to create an inviting space to help your child feel excited to sit down for school each day.
Make a Vision Board
Vision boards are a fun and easy way to keep online students motivated. It can help them focus on their goals. This article from the Today Parenting Team provides some great tips for getting started.
A vision board for an online student might include goals for the school year, motivational or inspirational quotes, or photos of incentives, famous athletes or musicians, pets and family, etc. This can be a fun project to work on with the entire family. Keep in mind that you can add and remove items from the vision board as your child reaches goals and sets new ones.
Create a Daily Schedule
Without school bells, it’s easy to lose track of time throughout the day. Maintaining a daily schedule is essential to success in an online school environment. If your program includes teachers, they can help you to create a daily schedule to keep your student on track. If you are your child’s teacher, remember to follow a regular routine, where students work on the same subject matter at the same time each day. Also, plan breaks at the same time every day. Consider using cell phone alarms to signal an activity change.
It’s also important that your child gets enough rest so that they have enough energy for a day’s worth of schoolwork. Set a reasonable bed time on school nights, and have your child wake up at the same time every day. Each morning, encourage your child to take a shower, change out of pajamas, and make themselves feel ready to take on the day.
When you create your child’s daily schedule, make sure to include short screen breaks throughout the day. Give them the opportunity to allow their eyes to relax. In order to prevent screen strain, ask them to try to gaze at something far away during breaks.
It’s easy for kids to fall into a slump when they are at home for long periods of time. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children ages 6 to 17 get at least 60 minutes of “moderate-to-vigorous” physical activity every day.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Physical activity also has brain health benefits for school-aged children, including improved cognition (e.g., academic performance, memory) and reduced symptoms of depression.” Consider a brisk walk to benefit your child’s academic performance.
Prepare a healthy breakfast and lunch for your online learner as well. The Choosemyplate.gov website offers great information on how to prepare balanced and nutritional meals, including recipes and snack ideas.
Everyone knows that kids are easily distracted. Therefore, it’s important to keep them accountable for their schoolwork. Collaborate with your child to create an accountability plan. The level of your involvement depends on your child’s age and level of independence.
Review to-do lists and lesson plans and compare them to what your child has accomplished at the end of each day. If they didn’t complete all their work during the day, it’s ok to do a little “homework” in the evening. Help them to avoid procrastination. Several hours of evening work to stay on pace isn’t fun for anyone.
Reward Hard Work
The old saying, “Work hard, play hard,” is a must for online students. Set attainable goals for your child and assign a reward to go with them. Consider a family movie night, a pizza for dinner, or a sleepover with a friend. Choose an incentive that is meaningful to them. Make rewards fun!
Sara Lutz is a Business Teacher Facilitator at Lincoln Learning Solutions and has been working in online learning for 14 years. Sara enjoys spending her free time cheering on her kids at their various sports events, visiting the beach every summer, and watching movies with her family.
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