Back to school season looks a lot different in 2020 than in previous years. Parents now seem to share the same combination of dread and excitement their kids have experienced for years.
Much of this parent trepidation stems from the uncertainties they faced several months ago, when their kids had to make the sudden switch from in-person to digital learning from home. With many students remaining fully or partially online this fall, parents are faced with homeschooling for the long haul.
However, the fall semester need not be as chaotic as last spring. Teachers have had more time to plan for online and hybrid learning, as have parents. Give the following back to school ideas a try as you prepare for more time spent learning at home!
The #1 Kids Online Back to School Learning Tip: Establish A Routine
Establish a learning from home routine early on to get everyone started with good habits. Your schedule should reflect not only your children’s classes, but also study blocks, outdoor activities, mealtime and free time. Use a large whiteboard calendar or sticker poster to highlight daily activities and their respective timeframes.
Your routine should also reflect obligations on the parent or caregiver’s end. For example, your children should be aware if you have a Zoom meeting for work at a specific time each day, and understand they are not to interrupt.
Most importantly – stick to your routine!
Back to (Home) School Essentials Checklist & Survival Kit
You’ll find it far easier to maintain a routine and keep your kids enthusiastic if you’re all equipped with the right items. While you’ll no doubt need to stock up on pencils, markers and notebooks, it’s also worthwhile to create a “Back to School Survival Kit” containing the following essentials:
- Timer – Your smartphone alarm clock may do the trick, but a fun kitchen timer will add extra whimsy as you all strive to stick to your schedule(s). Use your favorite timer to track recess, time spent on chores and other activities.
- Headphones & Earplugs – Remote learning can be surprisingly noisy, especially if you have multiple kids and minimal space. A pair of high-quality noise cancelling headphones or earbuds can be a lifesaver. Earplugs are also a good idea to have on hand for times when you really need to focus (or take a nap).
- Designated Study Zone – Having a designated area for study will help keep kids focused and in the mindset of school even though they’re at home. Much like having a dedicated work office, having a “zoned” academic area is a good idea if you have the space.
- Planner – In addition to your wall-mounted whiteboard schedule, keep track of specifics in an old-fashioned paper planner. The act of physically writing down reminders and appointments or virtual calls may prove more effective than adding an endless litany of to-do’s to your smartphone.
- Post-It Notes – Many parents have rediscovered the value of the Post-It in the age of distance learning. These simple tried-and-trues can be used to jot down important reminders as well as silly messages to share throughout the day and make your family smile. You’ll all enjoy choosing pads featuring your favorite colors or shapes.
- Words of Encouragement – Spend a day creating a “motivation jar.” Fill it with small slips of paper that feature words of encouragement. When the going gets tough, you or your children can reach into the jar for a simple reminder of why all this hard work is worthwhile.
- First Aid Kit – Because accidents happen! If you don’t already have one, get one.
- Snacks – You don’t need to go crazy, but having healthy snacks and drinks on hand can help keep up mental energy and focus.
Back to School Tips for Returning in Style – Virtually!
Your primary goal for the new school year? Turn virtual education into an adventure to be embraced. The right activities will allow you to create special memories together as you spend time working and learning at home. Give these activities a try:
Throw a Back to School Party with Your “Pod”
Have you developed a quarantine pod? Why not get the gang together for a fiesta as you prepare for the virtual school year? Two great ideas to get you started:
- Try an outdoor scavenger hunt for school supplies, or a round of school-themed bingo.
- Prepare cafeteria favorites such as popcorn chicken and rectangular pizza. Then wash them down with chocolate milk boxes!
- Got a friend who can’t join? Or are your kids unable to attend a party being thrown by someone else? Create a cardboard cutout of them to be present in their place! Have everyone take photos and pose with them as they would if they were actually there.
Level Up Virtual Classrooms With the Right Decor
A little thought and a few simple details can make all the difference for your child’s at-home classroom and study area. Motivational posters, for example, can inspire both you and your children. A comfortable chair and appropriate lighting will go a long way.
Cardboard cutouts are a great way to bring your kids’ friends into your home classroom to make the experience feel a bit more social. Life-size standees, BigHeads or even selfie frames all create opportunities for stronger mental engagement, motivation and perhaps conversation starters or topics on virtual calls.
Mark the First Day With Back to School Posters
Create a unique back to school banner or poster for the first day. This should be situated within view of the webcam so that teachers and other students can see it, too!
Your backdrop can double as a location for snapping memorable back to school photos, which you can post on social media or print to be scrapbooked. Selfie frames add further pizazz to your back to school photo shoot.
Back to School Online with Cardboard Cutouts
As you look for new ways to make online learning for kids the best it can be, take advantage of life-sized cardboard standees, BigHeads, wall decals, and our custom wall murals to make the school year pop. We’re here to help you make the most of virtual learning!