• COVID-19 has brought a wave of so many “new normals”–masks, more mindful cleaning strategies, social distancing, virtual doctor appointments–and one that has brought many mixed emotions…online school. You have been thrown into the role of your child’s teacher or “learning coach”, with little preparation or advanced notice. Even reading the words “online school” may bring up an array of emotions. I know! Here are a few tips on how to help your child focus during this new norm of school.

    Learning Space
    Create a designated workspace for schooling. The area should be free of both clutter and distractions. If possible, arrange seating so that your child’s screen is visible to you, rather than backed up to a wall. This helps reduce the temptation to play games or get off task during school meetings. You’re setting them up for success!

    Write out the Plan
    Instead of assuming kids know their schedule, write it out. Write it on a chalkboard or dry erase board, or color code classes and activities in a planner so that it’s an enjoyable experience for the child. When kids can see what is next, it helps them to regulate themselves and stay on task. Seeing the schedule in black and white also helps them have a better understanding of the length of various activities and classes.

    Take Brain Breaks
    Most schools recognize the need for breaks and are working hard to incorporate them into children’s schedules. However, each child is different. If your child needs more breaks, schedule them in yourself. This much screen time is not normal for children and breaks can be vital to helping your child’s brain stay focused. It reduces stress and frustration and increases attention and productivity. The key is to take breaks before fatigue, distraction or lack of focus set in. During a break, try exercising, stretching, or simply drinking a glass of water.

    Be Flexible
    No matter how much preparation you do, there will be days that don’t go according to plan. Give yourself permission to be okay with that! You can always make adjustments when needed. But, recognize that setbacks are part of the process. Setbacks, and even failure, are not the end of the world. Make the decision to model acceptance and flexibility, rather than anxiety and disappointment when things don’t work out perfectly.

    Provide Positive Feedback
    After completion of online learning for the day, giving your child some positive feedback can go a long way. Success begets success. Consider focusing your feedback around your child’s effort, rather than the outcome of their work. And give yourself some positive feedback, because you’re working hard too!