Apr 17, 2020, 1:47:11 PM CDT Dec 11, 2020, 1:53:06 PM CST

How to support your child's online learning

Virtual learning can take some adjustment. See tips to encourage kids who are learning at home.

Father helping son with homework Father helping son with homework

What is online learning?

At-home learning, also known as online learning, is how some schools are continuing to provide for students' educational needs from a distance. Schools offering this option are using a variety of online tools for your child's education. Make sure you are reading all your child's school communications to ensure you have access to and are using the right tools. Remember, even a high-achieving student may need some parental guidance while learning virtually.

How can I help my child be successful with online learning?

Depending on your child's age and learning style, they may need different levels of support for learning online. Don't hesitate to reach out to your child's school or even to other parents for advice. See tips for supporting your child's virtual learning academically, physically and emotionally.

Create a structure for academic learning at home

  • Work with your child to plan his or her day. Creating a schedule is an important part of establishing when a child's typical routine is disrupted. Post the schedule in an easy-to-see place to help guide your child. If your child is learning to read, you can use pictures to show the schedule. You can find sample schedules online; see one sample here.
    • Be sure to include breaks in your child's learning schedule.
    • Try to keep your child on a routine, this will make it easier for them if they transition back to school.
    • Make sure their schoolwork time fits with your family's schedule.
  • When possible, allow your child choices. For example, if your child has been assigned two journal topics for the week allow them the option of which one to do first, or if they have free reading time, give them a choice of two books to pick from.
  • For younger children or children who may need more structure, try using a timer or other tool such as a smartphone, so your child knows when to switch activities.

Address the physical aspects of online learning

  • Let your child pick out their school space at home and help set it up.
  • Create different seating options for your child using items you have at home. For example, office chair, beanbag, stool, the floor or allow them to stand.
  • Provide a second workspace to give your child the ability to change environments.
  • Make sure both you and your student are taking breaks, where you walk away from work.
  • Give your child recess, play or PE time during the day. Physical activity is an important part of supporting overall health and offers both cognitive and emotional benefits. See tips for exercises for kids at home.

Support your child's behavioral and social-emotional needs

  • Some children may benefit from a reward system to help with behavior or as motivation to complete work. If your child is currently using a behavior chart, continue using the same one for consistency. Or view instructions to create a new behavior chart.
    • Reward systems can be set up for your child to earn a reward daily or weekly.
    • Your child should be able to earn a reward based on behavior or amount of work completed.
    • Your child should have clear expectations on how to earn their reward.
    • Try not to reward with food as this may not be an option when your child returns to school.
  • Try not to get into a power struggle with your child over their schoolwork. If your child is refusing to complete work, remove yourself to give them time to calm down before getting back to work.
  • When children's typical routines are disrupted, it's normal for them to experience stress or anxiety. See tips to help your child cope with anxiety.

More tips for parents to support online learning

  • Try not to get frustrated with yourself if you don't understand what your child is learning. School curriculum has changed a lot over the years.
  • Continue regular communication with your child's teachers or school administration for questions by an agreed upon method.
  • If your child has a 504 plan or is in special education, please reach out to their teacher or coordinator for more information.
  • Keep a record of who you talked to and what you talked about so you can reference it if needed.

Additional resources for online learning

Your child's teacher is your best resource, but there are also other resources that are available to help you and your child.

For information about COVID-19 and more resources to support your family while social distancing, visit the Children's Health℠ COVID-19 hub.

Learn more

The School Services department at Children's Health supports students in balancing their medical and educational needs by creating school plans for patients with extended hospitalizations and individualized school recommendations for patients when they are discharged. Learn more about our school and education resources.

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