Kids succeed at online school when co-parents communicate

Online School Tips: Help for Co-Parents During COVID-19

Sep 2, 2020 | Co-Parenting | By Christine Pearsall

Online school challenges can be overcome with the right checklist

As a co-parent, are you ready for the next few months of online school chaos? Ideally, co-parents should have a plan in place to help them problem-solve in times of crisis. The uncertainty of the pandemic has created a crisis for many families to face with respect to education. With many school districts opting for an online school format, the challenges introduced can override co-parents’ ability to collaborate and make decisions. In this post, we lay out some guidelines to help co-parents work through the chaos to ensure their children can succeed in virtual learning.

The reality of prolonged online school cannot be avoided. For co-parenting households, it introduces a host of challenges. The first challenge? To determine whether the children need laptops, if moving back and forth between residences, or if they need desktop computers at each home.

However, online school success goes beyond computer needs. In order to help co-parents set the stage for their children’s success, we’ve created a checklist of recommendations in 3 crucial areas: environment, communication, and time management.

Tips for an Ideal Online School Environment

  1. Set up a dedicated space for learning
    • New desk, and possibly a screen divider if more privacy is needed.
    • An ergonomic chair.
    • Allow your child to decorate the study area with favorite photos and posters.
  2. Remove distractions
    • Invest in headphones.
    • Remove distracting pets or distance noisy siblings.  
  3. Optimize technology
    • Do you have the right broadband connection? Parents working from home with multiple kids in online school could stress your current service.
    • Consider setting up a mesh network for a reliable signal throughout the home. This can give your kids the freedom to have a few different spots for reading, doing homework, or working on projects.
  4. Dressing the part
    • Dressing for school each day provides structure and gets kids out of pajamas.
    • By investing in new fall looks, kids are motivated to get out of bed and therefore more likely to engage in online participation.
  5. Set up a snack stash
    • Parents don’t need to be on-hand for short-order cooking when kids need a quick snack.
    • Make a variety of healthy snacks available for short, between-class breaks.

Good Communication is More Than Just Two Parents Talking

Co-parents that communicate can offer their child consistent guidance and support to manage their online school requirements.  If that’s a challenge, you may find our blog post Power Struggle: Learning to Share Power as Co-Parents helpful. After that, as a first step you should answer the following questions:

  1. Who takes on which tasks for supervising virtual learning?
  2. What is the protocol for keeping everyone posted?
  3. Will the school calendar and agenda be managed in a central calendar or co-parenting app?
  4. What is our contingency plan if either co-parent is exposed to COVID-19?
  5. Do you know your child’s learning style?

However, co-parent communications are just the beginning. In addition, co-parents should put other lines of communication in place:

  1. Ask teachers for more feedback. Communicate to teachers that you want clearer expectations and goals for your kids.
  2. Set up a social interaction plan to help kids stay in touch with their friends.
  3. Provide positive feedback regularly about their schoolwork.
  4. Help your child establish a communication channel with their teachers.

Time Management Creates Consistency and Improves Performance

Similar to your child’s school day, creating a routine at home can be a powerful way to maintain some normalcy. For instance, research shows that students with higher GPAs are typically better at time management.

Following these tips will help kids establish time management habits that improve their school performance:

  1. Establish normal bedtime and wake-up routines and keep a checklist.
  2. Keep track of your child’s online schedule and highlight important due dates.
  3. Monitor progress and be present.
  4. Set up regular breaks from screen time.
  5. Don’t forget some time for fun in the sun!

The key components for a successful online school experience are compromise and consistency. Above all, co-parents must support one another. It’s important that their children see them as a team. To this end, setting up the right environment, having clear communications, and employing a time management approach, co-parents can find it easy to create the consistency kids need to succeed in virtual learning.

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