It’s here. The moment we’ve all been waiting for (and mildly dreading): back-to-school 2020.
While most schools have already turned in their COVID-19 response plans for the year and many students know how they will be attending this fall, there are still lots of questions about the school year swirling around.
The biggest, at least for those starting the year online, is how in the world are we, as parents, going to help our kids manage virtual learning?
There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, and virtual learning is definitely going take some getting used to, but parents in Macomb County and beyond can still set their kids up for success with these five easy steps and considerations.
1. Create a designated learning space
The kitchen table or countertop might work for an adult working from home but Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, an international non-profit that works to answer questions about technology’s impact on child development, notes that kids really need a quiet and comfortable spot to complete their school work.
You can start by getting them a desk and chair to set up their room — or whatever space in your home is free from distractions. You can store all the supplies that they need in that area so they don’t need to go searching for things throughout the day.
Make sure the area is well-lit throughout the day, and that you consider any orthopedic issues your child might have and provide them with the proper items to help alleviate those issues.
Find more tips on creating a positive homework space here.
2. Set a routine
Kids thrive on routine, and while virtual school may be different than what they’re used to, a routine can still be beneficial.
Pediatric Associates, a pediatric office based in Florida, suggest parents have their kids get ready for school the same way they would if they were heading off to a brick-and-mortar building: Get them up at their normal time, have them eat breakfast and get dressed. Virtual school should start at the same time every day and should end at the same time every day. Recess and lunch breaks should also be scheduled.
3. Take consistent brain breaks
A full day of staring at a computer screen can be challenging for young kids, so Pediatric Associates recommends parents fit some physical movement and periodic rests from school work into their child’s day.
Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development suggests setting alarms similar to those they’d have at school and encourage kids to go outside for a walk or bike ride so that they aren’t sitting all day.
4. Monitor the computer screen and limit screen time
Kids are going to need to be online for quite a chunk of their school day, but too much screen time can also be a problem. Parents are going to need to find a balance. First, you’re going to want to make sure that your child’s time online for school is productive. Make sure a child is paying attention to what they’re looking at, see if they’re taking notes or asking questions and that they’re not on another website or falling asleep. Parents should also be monitoring the amount of extracurricular screen time their child is getting and encouraging them to enjoy other activities outside of a screen in their downtime.
5. Provide social outlets and in-person support
After having to leave last school year early, a long six months away from friends and now starting digital school can make kids feel isolated. While they may see their classmates and do schoolwork through a screen, it’s not the same.
Consider social video conferences amongst your kids’ classmates or in-person playdates that follow coronavirus guidelines such as social distancing and wearing masks.
Also, if you can, provide some one-on-one time with your kids to go over schoolwork together and keep yourself available if they need emotional or educational support.
Support for Macomb County parents
Still in need of more information or support? Families that live in Macomb County can download the free COVID-19 Back-to-School Parent Toolkit. This toolkit comes complete with everything a local parent needs to know about sending a child to school during the pandemic including information on how COVID-19 is spread, your child’s chances of getting COVID-19, the processes that will be followed if there’s an outbreak at a Macomb County school, how schools are limiting contact among students and much more. Download it here for more.
This content is brought to you by the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development and the Macomb Intermediate School District. For more information about life in Macomb County, visit them online at Make Macomb Your Home.