School in 2020 has been a whole new ballgame of hybrid models, distance learning, homeschooling, and new routines. There’s a lot of screen time and alone time, and for some children it works well, but for others this has been a struggle.

So how can we help our children maintain their love for school when everything looks different? We’ve rounded up 7 helpful tips you can start implementing that will make the school day easier and more fun for the whole family. 

1. Establish a routine

Children thrive on routine, and for many this school shake up has left them feeling anxious, antsy, or even angry. Then, because there isn’t separation between home and school, those feelings trickle into dinner and bedtime which we know isn’t good for anyone.

Establishing a new routine that allows for transition time and separation between school and home can help address this problem. For example, use your smart speaker to set a few alarms during the day. One for when school starts, two for the start and end of lunch and recess, and one for the end of the school day. Once the final bells rings, school is out for the day and it’s home time. This simple reminder, for you and your child, can help set a new routine and create a home/school boundary. It’s all about getting comfortable in your home environment, learn more tips here!

2. Dedicated school space

You don’t need a Pinterest worthy classroom setup in your house, but a space dedicated to school that your child helps create can be helpful for everyone. Think back to your childhood and how proud you were to decorate your locker or have your own desk at school - there was independence there and your child may be missing that. Back to school supplies have definitely changed!

Ideas to try: 

  • Create a school corner that has a desk and bulletin board for children to tack up art or schoolwork they are proud of.
  • Decorate a trifold cardboard divider that can be set up at the kitchen counter.
  • Set up a “inbox outbox” tray your child can decorate that will hold work that needs to be completed and work that is done.

3. Make it fun

We all can’t be as wonderful as Mary Poppins, but we can take a page from her book and try to make some of the less than exciting stuff fun.

Put on some music during class breaks, create a reward chart for participating in class, or use silly voices when reading aloud. If you can make something a game, go for it! Teachers are fantastic at this naturally, and as parents we need to tap into some of their energy to make school from home fun. 

4. Get social

For social butterflies, learning alone at the computer can be painful. They just want to talk - to everyone, all the time! 

If that sounds like your child, setting up separate video calls for just them and one friend may allow more time for chat than the distance learning classroom. You could also organize socially distanced meet ups at a park or create a learning pod so a small group of children can learn together. Finding ways for children to socialize in this new environment can bring the “fun with friends” element back to school and help your child love it again.

5. Offer choices

Any parent who has ever dealt with a tantrum over plate color knows that children love having choices. 2020 has taken away some of their choice making ability (we feel that as adults too) so whenever you can introduce choice to school it’s a win. 

This could mean a choice of what’s for lunch today, or what to do during recess break, or what piece of homework to do first. Giving your child choice gives them a sense of control when there are a lot of factors out of their control right now.

6. Explore favorite subjects together

To ensure your child maintains a love for school, learn more about what they love! For example, if a lesson about science has them sitting up in their chair a little straighter, think about experiments you could try at home. Or, if your child enjoys a particular book the teacher is reading, look for more books by the same author at your local library. 

Find different ways to bring learning to life outside of the video calls in ways that feel fun and interactive. This energy can help keep children  engaged during school hours and excited to learn new things.

7. Identify their triggers

Does your child feel uncomfortable with the camera on during class? Do they get fidgety after sitting still for an hour? Is the last class session of the day the hardest to get through or are mornings your pain point?

Figuring out where your child is struggling and why can help you tackle the problem head on. Maybe they don’t need to have the camera on for every class as long as they are paying attention. Or, you could put the laptop up at standing height for part of the day so your child can stretch their legs for a bit. For some children, one or two small adjustments can make a big difference in their distance learning experience and turn their school frowns upside down.