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5 Ways to Help Your Child Transition to Online School

Teenager with anxiety and stress due to online learning transition due to COVID-19 coronavirus in Pennsylvania

After a couple of weeks of school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools in Pennsylvania began remote online learning/instruction this week. Children and families might feel anxious or overwhelmed and unsure of how to best make the transition. So many activities, like sports, plays, school dances, birthday parties and more have been canceled or altered due to the pandemic. When you add this with having to learn in a new environment, it can be stressful and challenging for kids.

Many parents’ routines and schedules have been altered as well. A lot of parents are working from home, with schedules full of online meetings and conference calls. Balancing their own workload with that of their kids can be challenging, likely generating anxiety and stress that your kids will notice.

How can you help ease this transition for your child, as well as yourself? There are some things you can do that can help.

Set Up an Area for Schoolwork

This can be easier said than done, especially with multiple kids and parents working from home.  Try to find some unused, quiet space in your home. Maybe you have a room that is rarely used, like a dining room, where a child can work. Maybe you can set up a folding table in a younger child’s bedroom and have that child play in the living room during school time. If the weather’s nice, you could rotate school time for each child and have the other children do a quiet activity outside. Try to set the area up like a desk at school for them to work at, and keep the supplies they might need nearby.

Keep a Consistent Schedule

Encourage your children to get up and go to sleep at consistent times each day, like they would normally do. Aim to keep meals and snacks at a similar time. Consider scheduling some quiet, down time in the afternoons. Plan a time for outdoor activities (weather permitting) or some other physical activity each day. If writing things out helps you, make a physical schedule! Print it out, hang it on the refrigerator, write it on a white board, or put it near their work area.

Take Advantage of Free Offers During this Time

Many educational companies geared towards kids have offered free access to their services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies like Amazon are offering free children’s book access in their Kindle library, and other educational companies like Prodigy (a math-based game) or Epic are providing at-home learners with access to their content. If you’re not sure how to get access, reach out to your child’s teacher. They can steer you in the right direction! Websites like Go Noodle and Big Life Journal also offer free activities for kids.

Remember to have Patience with Your Kids, Your Family, and Yourself!

It’s natural for both children and parents to be overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious with the stay at home orders and working/schooling from home. This transition is not one that anyone prepared for and there’s bound to be some bumps in the road. For most families, working and learning from home is a new challenge that will likely have its ups and downs. There will be good days and not-so-good days, and that’s OK. Each day we learn and grow and try again. And don’t forget about teachers – be patient with them as they transition to a new learning platform too!

Stay Connected with Friends and Family

With schools being closed indefinitely, kids can struggle have their social needs met. This is especially true for younger kids, who are too young for their own phone or iPad and may typically not have a lot of screen time. If your school is using video platform, such as Google Hangouts/Classroom or Zoom to connect their class, encourage your kids to join these sessions to see and talk with their friends. Check with their friends’ parents to use FaceTime or Duo calls to set up virtual play dates to chat with their friends they aren’t able to see. Kids Messenger through Facebook is another option to stay in touch with friends.

This pandemic caused a sudden, significant transition for everyone. We are all practicing social distancing, staying home and unable to do some of our favorite things. Parents are working from home and now students are remote learning with online school. This has created new challenges and pressures on everyone, but it does present a learning opportunity for children.

If they can tackle these challenges, they’ll develop skills to navigate the difficult situations they’ll face in the future. Encourage your child to look for the positives of the situation and new opportunities!

If you feel like your child is struggling with this transition, with feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression, therapy or counseling can help them with strategies to deal with these emotions. If you are looking for some help for your child, Valley Counseling Center is here to for you. We are offering teletherapy at this time. Contact us or call us at 717-790-1700 to learn more.

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