Structure the day with a consistent schedule: In times of uncertainty, kids have a sense of safety and predictability in structure and routines. Provide recess and lunch breaks, and have a set end to the school day so they don’t feel like they’re spending all of their waking hours at school. Give children a break if they are frustrated, anxious or very distracted. It’s OKAY to slow the pace.
- Try to build as much structure and consistency as possible, setting times for meals, schoolwork and other activities.
- Try to get children on the same schedule they had when they were going into school. That means the same wake-up time. Have kids start schoolwork at the same hour they used to start classes.
- Try to maintain a planner to keep track of all school activities and homework.
- Be flexible: You may need to adjust your schedule as you go. Try working with your children on more challenging tasks during the times of the day when they are most alert and engaged.
- Parents might be stressed and find it hard to keep track of assignments, tests, and deadlines. It is suggested to try and create a family calendar and know that mistakes will happen.
- Create a solid morning routine (with schedules and a rewards system).
- Make sure tech devices are fully charged the night before.
- Designate a work space for your child. If possible, anywhere except their bedroom.
- Schedule home and family time, dinner, active time, relaxation time and a bedtime routine. Be flexible with finding a routine that works for your family in these new circumstances.
- If following routines is difficult for your child, consider adding in incentives to help them get used to them. For younger kids, a sticker chart and praise for following each step of the routine can be helpful.
- If your child is distracted by other screens or devices, consider restricting device access until after the school day and homework are complete. In addition, for kids who will already have several hours of screen time during the day for school, support them in finding activities without a screen for their free time, such as playing outside, reading a book or cooking.
- Build in fun activities into the routine as well, such as family walks or new weekend traditions. These traditions could be getting take-out from your favorite restaurant, playing outdoor games, cooking a new recipe together, or building something like a birdhouse.
- Ask your child for input. They are more likely to want to use a schedule they create.
- Make a daily to-do list on a whiteboard, poster, post-it notes, etc. and display in your workspace
- Cross off completed items or move completed activities to a “done” column
- When possible, order the schedule so that more preferred activities can come after less preferred ones
- For non-readers, use pictures in the schedule to improve understanding
- Don’t worry if you get off track. The schedule is meant to be a guide to organize your day.
Provide daily opportunities for exercise and recess- Brain breaks are important!
Physical fitness is an important component of attending regular school. Children need opportunities for physical movement throughout the day. Not only does exercise increase blood flow to the brain, improving concentration, but it may also support the natural learning style of your children. “Some children learn best when they’re able to stand during lessons, or able to sit on a bouncy ball instead of a regular chair,” says Pediatric Associates Regional Medical Director Barbara Alexander, D.O. “And whenever possible, get them outdoors to move around, increase their heart rate, and burn off energy.”
Allowing time for exercise before your child is expected to focus on learning might be a good idea. Repeated physical activity during school can improves children’s attention. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and prevent anxiety.
- Keep moving physically every 20 – 30 minutes depending on the age.
- Get some exercise, even if it just means going up and down the stairs a few times between tasks. Take a chance to go outdoors for fresh air.
- Create fun breaks so that children can have some physical activity time to stay fit and healthy, properly schedule healthy snack/lunch times.
Provide Feedback and Participate with your child/make it fun: Research suggests that some types of parental participation have a greater impact on children’s academic achievement than others. One analysis showed that schoolchildren benefit from discussions about learning and school-related issues with their parents and from joint readings.
Many children miss receiving reinforcement and reassurance from teachers and counselors. Building a reward system can help maintain motivation. After kids complete a task or finish a class, consider praising them. Putting a check mark, star or sticker on a work assignment can go a long way to encourage a kid. Other options that may work well with younger kids are giving a sweet treat, allowing playtime with a favorite toy or an extra 15 minutes to play before bedtime.
- Be present. Ask for details about what your student learned each day. Make it fun. Ask for a play by play or dramatic monologue.
- Make the lesson relevant to everyday life.
- Every interaction is a teaching moment. Making a cake? Have the child read the recipe and measure the ingredients.
- Require the child to teach YOU a lesson. If the child’s knowledge is lacking during the lesson, ask questions. Give permission for the child to get back to you with the answers to your questions.