Whatever the situation, it is likely that children will spend a good amount of time learning remotely this year. With that in mind, we can plan ahead to create a calm home atmosphere that’s conducive to learning. How to do this?
First, a quiet study area for each child is essential. Granted, if resources are limited, children may need to share a computer station but ideally each child will have as much separate space as possible. Preferably, this study space is free from distractions and offers an ideal environment for the unique needs of the student. Not all students focus best with quiet. Some need music, television sounds or everyday commotion to stay grounded and focused. The space should, however, be well lit, comfortable and inviting. Request input from your child to design and decorate the space. There should be adequate shelves/baskets/files to store books and supplies. A timer is handy to help students to stay on task. Co-create a plan to organize electronic assignments/files.
Second, students can easily become distracted from the task at hand when supplies are missing or inaccessible. Here is a list of suggested items. Identify what you have on hand and purchase items now that they may need in the future. Follow teachers’ suggestions as well! It goes without saying that students need a computer or tablet and an internet connection. Basic desk supplies (depending on a student’s age):
- pens, highlighters, pencils, markers
- lined paper, index cards, sticky notes
- manila folders, binders, plastic storage envelopes (depending on age and need)
- stapler and staple remover
- scissors, ruler, paper clips and binder clips
- file sorters or box to hold papers in organized way
- flash drives
- backpack, if indeed children will travel to school
- timer to stay on task
Third, think of the daily routine as the glue that holds everything else together. Routines create structure so that children know what to expect at any point during the day. Routines are especially critical for some children, for example, those with ADHD. Of course, the school will dictate much of the remote learning time blocks. Otherwise, schedule specific tasks according to alertness and time of day. Plan high focused learning for the morning when children are usually more alert and have more concentration power; regular snack times provide welcome breaks and the opportunity to replenish energy; rote tasks can be planned for the afternoon when energy is lower; and reading/general computer time is a good opportunity for students to relax and regroup. Write down and post the routines to keep everyone on the same page.
Lastly, why not build in chores so that children learn responsibility and contribute to the household upkeep? Children are more likely to follow a daily schedule if they have been included in the planning process. None of this is easy but the above suggestions can make learning in these extraordinary times more bearable.