We’re a week away from the start of this school year and it’s definitely different than we wish it could be. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 we’re headed into the fall semester with distance learning. Our students, families, and staff all miss being in person together; I know I sure do.
Rest assured, we are doing everything we can in the district to prepare for a return to school buildings when science and data suggest it is safe to do so. And in the meantime, great educators are planning robust learning for students to engage in this fall from a safe distance.
Of course, there are many things families can do to maximize their child’s learning from home experience. Today, I’d like to share some of these tips for study habits and routines.
Put the learner in charge
Help your child figure out where they work best for different tasks and how to change when it’s not working.
Start with clear goals
Discuss the kinds of activities your child will be doing to help them choose a good space. For example, a good reading spot and laptop spot may be different.
Find opportunities to change posture
Students need to move. Find places where they can do their schoolwork in different positions: kitchen table, counter, sofa, etc.
Choose two spaces for each task
Make a list of the different tasks (reading, writing, laptop, etc.) Then help your child pick two good places for each. This will allow choice and movement when needed.
Build awareness and metacognition
Ask your child during or after working in a particular space: “What worked? What didn’t work? What would you change?”
Help your child establish healthy rituals, like a dance break after a class meeting, a snack break mid-day with a family member, going outside after lunch or ending the day with mindfulness.
Keep the study space organized
Practice taking out the supplies that are needed and cleaning up afterwards. Include pencils, erasers, crayons, scissors, paper, laptop charger.
Use what you have
You don’t need to buy new things. Use shoeboxes, jars, bowls to organize supplies. Use other home materials to decorate learning spaces.
Lights and quiet
Find a space that is quiet and well-lit when your child needs to focus on schoolwork or join video chats. Take turns with family members in different spaces based on needs and what’s possible.
Make it personal
Decorate your space with your own drawings or favorite colors, and eliminate potential distractions like toys.
Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of schools for the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.