A few simple strategies can help set students and families up for success.
- Involve your children: Having children involved in the creation of the schedule gives them ownership and choice. You provide general guidelines and expectations based on the information from the teacher. For example, the teacher may have communicated how much time should be spent reading. However, the child may have some choice with when that occurs during the day. In addition, the child can help brainstorm other chunks of time and what it consists of. For example, during down time or creative time, the child can identify some activities that they could complete during that time.
- Set routines and schedules: You may have seen one of the many sample schedules floating around social media. We used one as a guide to help build a schedule that was applicable to each child. However, typing out a schedule and printing it for children to reference will help keep them on task. You can see the schedule we set for our 2nd grader.
- Encourage independence: When students are home, they often require a lot of support, which can take parents away from their normal or work tasks. However, students are more capable of independent tasks than we give them credit for. Getting meals started and cleaning up after themselves is a routine that they should be able to complete on their own. Cooking the meal requires some assistance. Getting ready in the morning is another example of activities that students can complete independently. If they require frequent prompting, create a checklist of tasks to reference.
- Set expectations: Have a conversation about expectations of behavior, routines, and schedules. What will happen if students do not follow through with tasks outlined in the plan? For example, limit your number of prompts or reminders for completing tasks (depending on the age). This is something you can also engage the children in the discussion. What do they see as a reasonable expectation for reminders, behavior with siblings, and independence?
- Set a designated space for them: Children need a space to work and call their own. School work will be done at home for the unforeseeable future. Therefore, find a quiet space for them to establish as their work and thinking place. There can be a few different spaces depending on the activities. For example, they may have a different space for reading than for computer work.
- Encouragement: This is a significant change for everyone. Children can be very flexible and resilient (sometimes more than adults). However, the sudden change can impact their stress level. Find the small things that you can praise and encourage. For example, when a child completes an activity online for the first time, praise them for learning in a new way. The tendency is to critique the quality and accuracy of the work. However, during this transition, it is important to praise effort to encourage good work habits and get to work quality a little later.