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  • Writer's pictureTracy Miller

Dreaming Of Back-To-School

Back to school time looks a little different this year, but I have the survival guide to getting the most out of online learning with your kids and teens!

Back to school time is usually an exciting time of shopping for school supplies, first day outfits, and the anticipation of learning what friends will be in the same classes. This year, however, looks a little different. Rather than planning outfits and bus stop meeting times, parents will be planning how to juggle being a good parent and a good teacher while likely trying to manage working from home themselves. While this is looking more and more like a stressful time of uncertainty, it does not have to be!

Do not fear! As a mom myself who is also trying to navigate this new way of schooling, I have some tips that may make this transition to learning from home a little bit smoother.

1. Create a designated work space for your children.

Just as you would have a home office or work area set up in your house, it is important your child has a designated school area. This space should be set up differently than where they would normally play games or watch television. Creating a separate space helps them to focus and get into the mindset that this is school time and not just an extended summer vacation. Make a quiet space free of distractions that is also comfortable and welcoming. Find an area where they are not too isolated, so they can still reach out to you for help if necessary. This can be a challenging feat when there is a full house of everyone staying at home, but if executed properly, this work space environment can make all the difference in your child’s academic success.

2. Reduce distractions.

When creating your favorable learning environment for your children, it is important to ensure it is one free of all distractions. This includes not only cell phones and video games, but toys of all kind that can make it more challenging for kids to focus. If games and social media on the computer are an issue, try enabling blocking features. Keep other games and toys in a separate room if necessary. Get creative! This learning environment should be as closely resembled to their classroom at school as possible for the most productive results.

3. Practice time management by creating a schedule.

Sit down with your children and create a weekly schedule, and stick to it! Consistency is key during a time like this. In that schedule, make sure you are incorporating “brain breaks.” In school, there are break times scheduled throughout the day for lunch, recess, specials and more. Make sure you are incorporating a similar amount of breaks so that your child can recharge their brain! It is also a good idea to use those times to get away from screens for a few minutes. Encourage your children to go for a walk or bike ride to get some fresh air. Provide them a snack as a little brain food to recharge and prepare to tackle the next assignment!

4. Keep in touch with school teachers and other parents.

This is one of the easiest ways to make sure everyone is on the same page. It is essential all students, parents and teachers are working on the same material and keeping an open flow of communication. Ask other parents what they have been doing that they found effective. Check your messages daily to make sure you are not missing out on important updates from teachers or other school faculty. Your child’s teacher is a great resource if you are finding any challenges from learning at home or technological difficulties that are preventing your child from keeping up with the curriculum. You may find it helpful to set up a weekly time to conference with your child’s teacher to go over what your child may be struggling with, review upcoming coursework, and understand expectations.

5. Don’t forget to create a comfortable sleep environment!

Studies prove time and time again that sleep plays a major role in your child’s academic performance. Better sleep leads to better focus and more creative thinking. It is also important they have a relaxing place to destress at the end of each day. If you are looking to create a welcoming sleep environment for your child that they look forward to going to each night, I recommend the Charcoal Odor-Eliminating Sheet Set from Pottery Barn Teen as a great place to start. This sheet set will be your kid’s favorite! I designed this product using breathable fibers in the fabric that creates a less favorable environment for bacterial growth which will keep the sheets fresher for longer, while providing exceptional comfort and softness.

Encouraging good sleep habits is a gift that keeps on giving. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, kids and teens need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep per night. Shutting screens off an hour before bed, resting and recharging at the end of a long day of learning, will give kids and teens the ability rejuvenate their minds and body’s through sleep.

Throughout this journey, is important to remember every kid is unique, and it may take some time to figure out what works best for each child. If you have multiple kids learning from home, try to remain patient and remember they likely do not learn the exact same way. Be flexible with your at-home learning environments and be open to adapting as the semester progresses.

Our slower lifestyles have created a great opportunity to bond and spend more time with your children. There is a silver lining to every situation, and we must work to make the best out of this one! Join your children on their snack breaks or lunch hour. This is a unique time spent together we may never experience in the future, so take advantage of this opportunity as a learning moment for building good habits your kids can use as they transition into adulthood.

In the evening before bed, I always take some time to reflect on the positives of the day, with especial acknowledgement of the things my family and I achieved that was within our control. I also try to share positive thoughts with my child before her bedtime. I’ve found that exercising the habit of self-compassion during this time helps me to relax and give me peace of mind in the day’s accomplishments.

With these tips, you and your kids will be having sweet dreams of back-to-school in no time!


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