It understandably took students a while to fully adjust to remote learning — it was a huge shake-up to the entire education system. Now though, with lots of schools across the US reopening their doors for full-time in-person learning, it’s time to think about what we can do to ensure this readjustment phase goes as smoothly as possible.
However, with daily case numbers still high and new variants posing an increasing risk, full-time in-person learning is still not a realistic proposition in many areas. What can we do to guarantee that those who are still learning either fully remotely or using a hybrid model have as much opportunity to succeed as those learning in person?
Heading back to the classroom full-time
It’s been a while, so students returning to school are going to face some challenges. Here are several tips to make sure it goes as smooth as possible:
Understand and explain procedures
Are masks mandatory in your child’s school? If so, you will need to introduce them to the idea of wearing one for an extended period of time — but do so slowly. It’s going to be uncomfortable right off the bat, so get your child to practice wearing it for 5 minutes at first, then 10 minutes, and so on. Before you know it, they’ll be perfectly fine wearing it for the whole school day if necessary.
Will everyone need to maintain a certain social distance? If your child is younger, you can show them what the designated safe distance looks like by using a piece of string or a measuring tape.
To lessen your child’s almost inevitable anxiety and nerves about returning to school, encourage open discussions with them, where you can address their concerns and meet them with positive reinforcement.
If your child is nervous about seeing everyone at school again because it’s been so long, tell her that as soon as she sees her friends again, it will seem like they were never apart. If your child says he is worried about catching coronavirus, tell him that by wearing his mask, regularly washing his hands, and practicing good social distancing, he’s playing his part in stopping the spread. Therefore, his chances of getting sick are much smaller.
The first few days and weeks are going to be especially tough for kids, so it’s a great idea to check in with how they’re getting on fairly regularly throughout this period.
To be sure that your child isn’t walking around the school like a zombie for the first few weeks, enforce a strict bedtime that will guarantee they can wake up in plenty of time to get ready for school.
It’s a good idea to limit your child’s screen time too, especially around bedtime. Studies show that children already spend way too much time in front of their screens, and the pandemic and remote learning saw this dramatically increase. Now children don’t need to rely so heavily on the internet for socializing and keeping in touch with their friends, you should consider setting strict limits on the amount of time they can use their devices. It has been shown that using screens before bed affects how quickly children can fall asleep and the quality of their sleep. It’s highly suggested to prohibit the use of all electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime.
After 18+ months of studying at home surrounded by their immediate family, many children will have fear and anxiety about going back to school in person.
If your child is due to return in the next few weeks, drive by the school several times before then to get them more comfortable with the idea of going back. Use this time to encourage discussion about school and be extra positive when doing so. Talk about all the good times your child had at school before the pandemic and all the friends they’re going to be able to see again.
Tips for hybrid and remote learning success
If your child is going to follow a hybrid learning routine or learn exclusively remotely, here are some things to think about:
Space may be a concern, but try your best to give your child their own dedicated area for learning. It should be free from clutter and distractions and filled with only everything they need for their remote learning. For the many of us who have worked from home remotely over the last several months, we know how much easier it is to be productive when our home office area is well organized, and children are the same.
Understanding internet safety
Children learning online presents its inherent dangers and concerns. While they need the internet to access their learning materials, we need to be aware that its use does not come without its risks. Since remote learning began, there has been a significant increase in the number of child predators contacting children online. There are also lots of websites containing a huge amount of content unsuitable for kids.
The fact that children who are learning remotely are using their devices for school as well as for recreation presents a real concern over the amount of screen time they are getting, too.
By using a digital wellness solution such as Trend Micro Family for Kids, you can ensure that your child stays safe online and isn’t logging an unhealthy amount of screen time. With Trend Micro Family for Kids — available for free for both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge — you can be confident that your child isn’t seeing inappropriate content on the Internet.
The accompanying Android and iOS parent app (Trend Micro Family for Parents) allows you to gain visibility into your child’s digital footprint — vital for parents raising children in the digital age.
Plan other activities
When children don’t have lunch and break times where they can socialize with one another throughout the school day, the days and weeks can often seem like they’re blending together. To counteract this, plan fun social events for your child. If restrictions permit it and you are comfortable with it, organize play dates for them with their school friends. If getting together with other children is not possible, simply going out for a short walk or heading to the park can be great for breaking up the routine of learning from home.
Their schooling success is in our hands
The new school year always comes with a little bit of anxiety and uncertainty, but this year more than ever before. It’s important that all of us — parents, teachers, friends, and family — do whatever we can to support children throughout this school year. The last 18 months really shook up their education. It is our responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure that they have every chance to succeed going forward.