Students who have spent their academic careers learning in a formal classroom setting, collaborating with peers, and participating in group work are also feeling the struggle of trying to remain focused and engaged in lessons and assignments from their home living room. To help your students, and their parents succeed for the remainder of this school year, share these five learn-from-home tips for students.
- Build a Self-Paced Schedule. As long as students complete assignments by their deadline, and prepare themselves for exam days, all other work can be self-paced. For many, setting, and sticking to a schedule is the hardest part of establishing disciplined work-from-home habits. Encourage parents to help their students create a daily routine that includes:
- A “to-do” list of daily and weekly deliverables.
- The number of hours to focus on schoolwork each weekday, and during what times.
- Breaks and playtime.
- General study and concept application practice.
- Deadlines for when to complete individual lessons in preparation for related exams.
- Ensure General Study Time is Part of The Daily Schedule. Best practices for regular study time still apply in a work-from-home environment. While every lesson may feel like homework, students still need to spend dedicated time reviewing concepts, practicing questions or equations they previously got wrong, testing themselves using flashcards, and participating in any other routine study habits. Test preparation is still essential, even when learning from home.
- Create a Dedicated Work Space. Students need a distraction-free, comfortable, focused place where they can learn, study, and practice. While homeschooling, it may help a student focus by moving his desk out of his bedroom (and away from toys and TV) and into a distraction-free home office room. Students who do not have a dedicated desk space will need a space to sit and learn that offers the best possible ergonomics for reading, studying, and writing. Young people may struggle to write assignments while lounging on the couch (in front of the TV), for example, and may be better able to focus at the dining room or kitchen table.
- Maintain an Open Dialog with Your Teacher. Students should not feel that even though they are not seeing their teacher in person regularly, that he or she is unavailable. Remind students weekly to reach out to you with any questions or concerns. Whether they are struggling to use an online learning platform, or need additional help with an assignment or concept for which their parent is less familiar, ensure they know how to get in touch with you for extra guidance. If students feel unsupported and find themselves lost in any way, it may hinder their confidence and productivity.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep. Staying at home each day may start to feel like summer vacation, but students still need to obtain healthy amounts of sleep to prepare themselves mentally and physically for a day of learning. Encourage students to stick to a regular bedtime schedule—ideally the same routine they follow during the school year when classes are in session. Not only will getting enough sleep help students to remain focused on their schoolwork during the day, but it will also help them adapt more quickly to the inevitable return-to-school schedule.
Check-in with students and parents frequently to ask which lessons and concepts are difficult for students. Also, ask what students’ biggest learn-from-home challenges are. Gather such feedback and use it to adjust assignments and share best practices with all students. The current learning situation may not be ideal. Still, we are all safer at home in the short-term, and by remaining focused and sticking to a routine, students will be well prepared to return to school on pace with the curriculum and its intended learning outcomes.