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Tips to Help Families Adjust to Virtual Learning as a New Normal

For many years now, students of all ages and backgrounds have used online learning to support their educational needs. In reality, online learning is now used to support many students' education in a growing number of schools around the world.

Online learning, whether in the classroom or at home, is becoming an increasingly important part of students' education. Students routinely turn to the Internet for everything from multiplication tables to working on history with a wide range of websites, apps, and videos to support their learning.

Let's talk about some tips that can help families adjust to virtual learning as a new normal.

Reduce Distractions

Limit the use of devices (laptops, smartphones, and tablets, knowing that doing so could hurt your student's grades) until done with school work. Some students may need an adult to monitor usage.

The surrounding environment can also be a great distraction. Having favorite toys around can make it hard for your student to focus. Consider creating a quiet and orderly workspace that is comfortable for your child. Also, we encourage all supplies to be within reach of the student, so there is no searching or distractions when trying to gather supplies for an assignment.

Brain Breaks

Teachers should be encouraging breaks from online learning. Brain Breaks should be a time away from the computer and preferably not in front of a screen. Screen fatigue is real, and avoiding it should be a priority for parents and guardians.

Allow time for exercise before your child focuses on learning. Or encourage exercise after online learning by riding bikes in the neighborhood or walking as a family. Time away from school learning and computers will help to keep students focused when they need to be. 

Time Management

Try to be as structured and consistent as possible in setting times for meals, school work, and other activities. Get your student on the same schedule as if they were going to school in person. This includes the same sleep schedule. Observe your student see what works best for them. Many younger students are busier and focused in the morning. At the same time, older students may be more alert later in the day. 

You may want to break classes into intervals for young students instead of having to finish the whole lesson in one sitting. Give your student a break if they are frustrated, upset, or too busy. Slowing down is fine; give your student more time to think and learn. You know your student best; if they need a break or can pick up the pace, you can encourage them to do so. 

Give Positive Feedback

Your student is doing something new and challenging. While learning new concepts, they are also living during unprecedented times for the education system. They need to know that their effort is seen and appreciated. A reward system can help to maintain motivation for your student.

After students complete a task or end a class, consider praising them. Having a checkmark, star, or sticker on a task can go a long way in encouraging a student. Other options that work best with young students are sweet treats, playing with a favorite toy for playtime, or another 15 minutes before going to bed. For high school students, watching a movie or giving extra time on a tablet is a great reward.

Be Flexible

As your student gets more into online learning, you may need to adjust your schedule as you go. If specific class tasks or topics are more complicated, try scheduling a new routine to focus on the difficult task. Try to work on more challenging tasks with your student during the day when they feel refreshed and ready to learn. 

Encourage your student to work on topics that come more easily when you are not readily available. It is also helpful to share with teachers what works best for you and your student. Teachers will have more ideas on ways to help your student succeed. 

Help Students Stay In Touch With Friends

School is more than a place to learn. It serves as a place for students to improve their social skills. The social relationships that students form with each other have a positive effect on academic achievement. Students miss school, miss their teachers, miss their friends, and live with uncertainty about the future during the transition to online school.

Allowing students to communicate digitally with their friends should help to reduce the impact of social isolation. While teachers may provide chances to connect students, there are ways that parents can support social skills at home too. 

Implementing social interactions into the school routine will help a child stay connected. One example is arranging a daily video chat with a friend or group of peers. School message forums, real-time classroom discussions, and email correspondence are other ways that your student can communicate with peers. 

Reach Out To Your Student's Teacher

Try to start the school year by talking to your student's teacher(s). We recommend constant communication with your student's teacher. Whether communication comes in the form of weekly emails, texting, or video calls, constant contact can help when difficulties arise. It is important to be an active participant in your child's learning.

Teachers are willing to help their students. If problems arise, like a student cannot attend class or are unable to complete the task, or if the assignment is too hard, the teacher will be the one to step in and offer additional support. Sometimes parents and guardians need help when teaching children, and that is okay. 


While online learning has thrown many households for a loop, teachers help ease families' burden. Know that you are never entirely alone; teachers are eager and willing to help their students.

Educators encourage families to reduce distractions during school hours, take breaks as needed, be supportive, and regularly reach out to their teachers. When families are involved in their student's education, they will be more confident and successful as they face a virtual environment.


Written by Brenda Maritim
Education World Contributor
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