10 Tips for Schooling at Home During COVID-19

Parents have made the switch from sending kids off to school to distance learning or virtual school. Of course we know you had no other choice with the current health scare. We understand that many parents were lost and with no direction on how to help students succeed in their classes. After all, their teachers do that for you. If you feel this way, we have ten tips on
helping your student learn online.

1. Routines

Routines are extremely important in a child’s success. At school, students are kept on a schedule that does not change. The activities and content that the students learn change, but the subjects that your child learns at specific times does not change. To keep a routine, we recommend using a calendar or daily schedule. You can find a daily schedule template available for download on our parent resource page.

2. Review yesterday’s material before beginning the next

An important part in ensuring your student retains the information they have learned is to review the information. When in school, students are given homework because it makes them repeat and practice what they have already learned. There is a latin proverb that says “Repetitio est mater studiorum.” This translates to repetition is the mother of learning. We could not agree more. The American Psychological Association agrees too. They say that deliberate repetition is a chemical process that helps information go from short-term memory to long-term memory.

3. Mental Organization

Our third tip is to help cultivate an organized mind in your student. Just like adults, children can easily become scatter brained and remember things they want to do, but forget the things they don’t like. Your child may remember that they have science schoolwork to do because they love science, but they forget they have to do history because that is just so boring. The best way to combat this is to create a To Do list. We have a weekly To do list, with columns for each day available for download on our parent resource page. When creating a To Do list with your child it is vital that you do not end with a task dump. Task dumping is when you write down all the work that must be done in a period of time. While this is a good way to begin creating a To Do list, you do not want your child to end up with a list of tasks without any indication of priority or due dates. Using a task dump as a To Do list can be overwhelming and can cause your child to shut down, procrastinate, and even leave tasks unfinished.

4. Physical Organization

Tip four is physical organization. That is making sure the work area your student has in your home, which should be the same everyday by the way, is neat and clean. When a work area is cluttered it can cause your child to become anxious or distracted. It is hard to focus on the Math problem when there is spilled juice on the scratch paper. Another way to stay organized is to
keep a binder, notebooks, or folders for each subject. If there is a folder, notebook, or binder section for each subject then every assignment should have a place. In a folder or binder, there should be a section for work assignments to do, assignments that are done, and large assignments that are still being worked on (i.e projects, or packets).

5. Motivate with rewards

Rewarding students is a great way to motivate your kids. Not only will it give them something to work towards, it will help prevent opposition defiance. Opposition defiance is when a child acts out as a way to gain attention from an adult. To avoid this, you should aim to reward more, and punish less. Not only does rewarding encourage good behavior, the CDC says it can also increase self-esteem in your child, and help create a better relationship between you and your student. We know that keeping track of good behavior is tough sometimes, because it is much easier to remember the things a child does wrong than what they have done right. Luckily, we have a chart for that. Our rewards chart is available for download on our parent resource page.

6. Allow for study breaks

Rewards can be great, but sometimes children can’t see past the hour, let alone reaching their weekly reward goal. With that in mind, study breaks are awesome. While repetition is good for learning, over doing it can cause your student to burnout. Burnout in students can be very harmful, because it can cause long-term effects. Students may just end up going through the motions in school, and forget how fun learning can be. When this happens, students slack off, and don’t retain information and grow. It is important that your student is actively engaging in the work, rather than just mindlessly finishing tasks. This way they develop a love for education and are able to appreciate how fun it can be. A five to fifteen minute break every hour and a thirty minute break every three to four hours can help avoid daily burnout, in turn avoiding the long-term burnout.

7. After breaks have a quick review

As we talked about in tip two, repetition is important. Reviewing the information just learned after each break adds to the repetition. It is good the study a subject, take a break from it, then return to it and review. This method of reviewing information is called spaced learning. The MIT Press Journals reported on a study done on massed learning (consecutive repetition), versus
spaced learning (repetition after breaks). The results of the study show that the people who learned under the spaced learning method (when given a memory recognition test) recognized more than those who used the mass learning method.

8. When your student is having trouble, use socratic style questioning

Socratic style questioning is a type of questioning that leads to the answer, rather than just doing the work for your student. When you do work for your student, or show them how to do it, the student does not always grasp the concept. They are just happy that the work is done. When you answer their questions with more questions you help them pinpoint where they got
lost. Many students will say “I don’t get it” or “I’m confused.” Most people will respond with “what are you confused about?” Students don’t always have the answer to this. A better response is “what do know about this?” Students can normally show you the steps they took, and with that you can pinpoint where they got stuck or made a mistake. Sometimes students even know the answer, but they don’t know how they got to the answer. The journey to the answer is more important than the answer itself. Once you find out where the student gets lost, you can ask more questions like “what does the word _ mean?” or “if you know _ and you know _, then when you put them together what happens?” This is a way to guide the student and let them work through the problem. This helps teach critical thinking and is beneficial in the long run.

9. Plan something fun at the end to look forward to

At the end of each school day, students normally can look forward to going home. Since your student is at home already, they need something that feels like an escape from school. A good way to give them that escape is to plan a fun activity, or allow time for your child to do what they like. Some escapes can include video games, time on electronics, cooking together, and playing outside. Just like adults need an escape from productivity, children need the same. Letting them know that they have a fun activity

10. Check your child’s work before allowing the fun activity

The last tip we have for you is to check your child’s work. Before allowing your child to escape from school and get out of the academic mindset, check their work to make sure they actually completed all the tasks. It is also important to check their work for quality too. If a child knows that there is something fun waiting for them, they might be tempted to rush and fill out their assignments without any effort. Making sure they have done the work to the best of their ability before allowing them the activity will teach them that effort is what will bring the best rewards. We understand that schooling from home is a difficult task that was thrust upon parents.

We are here as a support to you, as well as your student(s). We hope these tips help you and your child get through these times. We have resources to help guide parents through on our parent resource page, and if they don’t seem to be enough we offer academic tutoring services.

Abbey Linville

This blog post was written by our awesome tutor, Abbey Linville. She tutors general k-8 and advanced English. Check out more about Abbey on our staff page.

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