Thought Leadership

Back to School Tips and Tricks


September 10, 2020


September. Although many are already back in school, this month marks return for everyone. Are you ready? We recognize COVID-19 has made an impact on how children will learn this year, and in anticipation of this, we are sharing helpful tips and insights to make this school year a success for the entire family!

10 Back to School Tips

1. Establish routines and expectations
Develop good habits from the start. Create a flexible routine and periodically evaluate how it’s working. Organize your days into predictable segments. Help students get up, get dressed and ready to learn at a reasonable time. Keep normal bedtime routines, including normal rules for digital devices.

2. Choose a good place to learn
Your family’s regular learning space for occasional homework might not work for extended periods. If you can, set up a space dedicated to school-focused activities. Whenever possible, make sure it is quiet, well-lit, as distraction-free as possible, and has a strong internet connection. Keep doors open, and practice good digital safety.

3. Stay in touch
Teachers will mainly be communicating regularly through online platforms and virtual learning environments. Make sure everyone knows how to find the help they need to be successful. Stay in contact with classroom and support teachers, school leaders and counselors.

4. Help students “own” their learning
No one expects parents to be full-time teachers or to be educational and content matter experts. Provide support and encouragement, and expect your children to do their part. Struggling is allowed and encouraged! Don’t help too much. Becoming independent takes lots of practice.

5. Begin and end the day by checking-in
In the morning, you might ask:

  • What classes/subject do you have today?
  • Do you have any tests or quizzes today?
  • How will you spend your time off screen?
  • What resources do you need?
  • What can I do to help?

At the end of the day you might ask:

  • How far did you get in your learning tasks today?
  • What did you discover? What was hard?
  • What could we do to make tomorrow better?

6. Establish times for quiet and reflection
For families with children of different ages, and parents who may also be working from home more often, it’s good to build in some time for peace and quiet. Siblings may need to work in different rooms to avoid distraction. Many families will need to negotiate access to devices, priorities for wi-fi bandwidth, and schedules throughout the day. Noise-cancelling headphones are an idea.

7. Encourage physical activity and exercise
Living, learning, and working at home can feel constricting. We will all need some room to let off steam. Moving (independently and together as a family) is vital to health, well-being, and readiness for learning. It’s a great opportunity to practice exercising ‘alone together’ with digital workouts and online instructors. While the weather is still nice, creating outside fitness activities are also a great way to realize the benefits of not only activity but fresh air and new surroundings. Set new fitness goals and plan hands-on, life-ready activities that keep hands busy, feet moving, and minds engaged. You may want to think about how your children can pitch in more around the house with chores or other responsibilities. Now’s a good time to think about increasing personal responsibility and pitching in.

8. Manage stress and make the most of an unusual situation
During this time of uncertainty and change, emotions may be running high, and children may be worried or fearful. Parents may be stressed as well, and children are often keenly aware of emotional shifts in parents and family members. Sharing age-appropriate, factual information and ongoing reassurance from trusted adults can help children process these new circumstances we are living in. This is a good time to reframe challenges as opportunities: for spending time together, discovering new ideas and interests, investing energy and attention in activities that often get pushed aside by everyday tasks and responsibilities. Experts advise that it’s a good idea to slow down, find beauty, enjoy unexpected benefits, and express gratitude by helping others.

9. Monitor time on-screen and online
It will require some trial and error before everyone finds balance between online and close-space offline learning experiences. Work together to find ways to prevent ‘down time’ from becoming just more ‘screen time’.​​​​​​​ As time permits, pre-plan offline activities at the same time you get your kiddos organized for online learning each week.

10. Connect safely with friends, and be kind

Help your children maintain contact with friends through social media and other online technologies. Remind your child to be polite, respectful and appropriate in their communications. Support healthy relationships and positive interactions.