Preparing For A Virtual School Year With Your Children
Many students are beginning the year with some
form of virtual learning. During virtual learning,
teachers, parents, and students act as a team to
ensure the student’s success. Parents take on the
role of a learning coach, which can feel
overwhelming at first.
Fortunately, there are proven ways to maximize
the effectiveness of virtual learning. According to
Karina Zaiets and Janet Loehrke, education
columnists for USA Today, there are a few keys to
success when preparing for a virtual school year.
First, remove distractions. While students use the
internet for virtual learning, they don’t always
stick to academics when online. According to
Zaiets and Loehrke, students check their devices
for non-academic reasons approximately 11.43
times a day. Setting limits on the internet can
help reduce distractions. Establishing a clean,
quiet space where a student can sit upright will
improve focus as well.
Of course, non-stop focus is a recipe for burnout.
Plan breaks around chunks of time (every 30
minutes) or a set of tasks (after finishing two
assignments). The activity a student does on a
brain break is also a factor. Exercise is the best
choice. Connecting with friends is another
excellent choice. Virtual learning can feel
isolating at times, and students may miss talking
with their friends outside of class.
Planning breaks is part of managing a student’s
time. Parents can help a student by creating a
schedule to follow every day. Learners are
generally more productive in the morning, so
schedule the most challenging work early. Some
students may need more structure, with a timer
to help stay on task.
Next, plan to give positive feedback that would
usually come from teachers and counselors at
school. Checkmarks, stickers, and words of
encouragement help keep a student motivated to
learn. Staying in close contact with the student’s
teachers is also an effective strategy. When a child
struggles with an assignment, the teacher can help.
However, the teacher may not know there is an issue
unless someone reaches out.
Of course, even with these supports in place, virtual
learning is not easy for every child. Children with
special learning needs may struggle with the virtual
format. In a recent article for USA Today, Zaiets and
Loehrke advise parents to “work with your child’s
teachers to identify and remove any learning
These structures can help students find
success in virtual learning. However,
plans may need adjustment, and
obstacles may pop up. The last tip is to
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