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Help Your Student Succeed at Remote Learning


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As the coronavirus continues to spread across America, college students are facing a new reality. For the remainder of the spring term, their campuses will be closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. All schools have shifted to remote learning.

In some cases, students who are unable to return home have been permitted to stay in residence halls, and many upperclassmen will hunker down in their off-campus housing. But for many if not most students, the change means moving back in with their families.

The transition has been abrupt to say the least! And challenging for both students and parents. On top of the distress of being separated from their friends and campus community, students may flounder a bit without the enforced structure of the classroom environment. Working from home may be new for you, too. 

Social distancing makes staying productive even harder. Your student can’t go to the town library or a coffee shop to study, and in-person study groups are also off limits.

There are plenty of adjustments to make, but that doesn’t mean your student can’t continue to succeed academically. It will just take a little extra focus — and parental support.

Remote learning success starts with establishing a study routine in one dedicated space. Good time management will also be essential. And even in the era of social distancing, there are ways to study with others.

Here are 4 tips to share.

1. Establish Structure

Remote learning isn’t a free-for-all. Some of your student’s online classes may still be running on a strict schedule, with the professor lecturing via online streaming and students required to check in at a set time to record their attendance. 

If your student has a 9 a.m. class, they should be getting up at 7:30 to eat breakfast, shower and dress. It’s a bit hard to focus if you just rolled out of bed and are still in your pajamas!

Your student will want to build in breaks similar to the ones they had between classes on campus. This is free time to check in with friends on social media, exercise or have a snack/meal.

If you’re also working at home, do your best to align your work hours with your student’s. If everyone in the house is quietly busy, sharing a common work ethic, it will be easier for your student to stay on task (this is called social modeling)

If you don’t have outside work, or younger siblings to manage, you might look for projects you can do around the house to stay productive while your student is studying: organizing closets or storage areas, sorting family photos, catching up on paperwork, etc. Minimize any distracting noise, and consider establishing video game/TV-free hours during the study/work day. Request that everyone make and take personal calls somewhere they won’t disrupt other people trying to work or study in the home.

2. Create a Dedicated Study Space at Home

Your house may be full of distractions for your student, especially if they have siblings who aren’t on the same study schedule. 

A dedicated study space is important. Ideally, your student has their own bedroom with a desk where their computer, books, notes and other supplies are organized and readily at hand.

If that’s not an option, consider setting up a study space for them in the living room or another part of the house, and make that area off limits to everyone else in the family during your student’s established study time (another great reason to set a study schedule and stick to it).

3. Join an Online Study Group

Encourage your student to join or form an online study group with classmates. This will help them work through their assignments and give them some of the social time they’re used to.

There are a couple ways to pull off an online study group including:

  • Regularly scheduled video conferencing on platforms like Zoom, Skype and Facebook
  • Message groups on Slack or Facebook where students can post questions, thoughts, reminders, links, attachments and more

A combination of the above might be ideal: A weekly video meeting to go over the current schoolwork, and a 24/7 messaging group for students to stay connected between meetings.

Additionally, some of your student’s professors may be offering virtual office hours — encourage your student to take advantage of these!

4. Exercise Good Time Management

Time management can be difficult even when life is normal. Add the stress and uncertainty of the current crisis into the mix, plus the loss of many if not all of the other activities that used to shape their daily life (sports, club meetings, a campus job, etc.), and it may feel almost impossible. 

But the more your student strives to practice good time management, the more productive they’ll be.

We’re not expecting perfection right now! After all, there’s a lot of anxiety going around.

There are, however, a tried-and-true time management tips for college students you can share:

  • Establish dedicated study times
  • Build in time for fun and relaxation
  • Stay on a healthy sleep schedule
  • Each morning (or the night before), make a prioritized list of what needs to be done that day
  • Track academic to-do lists in a digital calendar or a time management app

Recommended time management apps include:

Check out this list of helpful online learning tools for more ways to help your student stay on track!

Remember, your student should avoid in-person study sessions.

Across the country, gatherings of 10 or more people have been banned in many places to stop the spread of coronavirus. Even if they aren’t banned where you live, they are not recommended.

The CDC recommends that people avoid social visits in general. That means your student shouldn’t host friends (not even one or two) at your home for the time being. You also should urge them not to visit other friends in their homes, either.

Make sure your student understands and heeds current recommendations:

  • Maintain a distance of 6 feet or more between all people — no contact!
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and hot water (20 seconds)
  • Clean all surfaces in your home regularly — pay special attention to door knobs, light switches, cabinet handles, faucets, etc.

Recommendations are changing on a daily basis. Get complete guidelines for coronavirus safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here >

Navigating the Current Crisis as a Family

The uncertainty around the coronavirus is causing a lot of disruption and unease. Your entirely family is likely feeling some anxiety. Your student might say they’re okay, but that doesn’t mean they are. Being deprived of social contact with friends, playing sports, and going shopping or to the movies won’t help their emotional state. 

The crisis is likely to take a toll on you, your partner and other family members, too. Just being there for each other — and being flexible, patient and open-minded — will help you settle into a new “normal” you can all live with.

CollegiateParent is sharing stories and tips from your fellow high school and college parents, along with advice from experts, during this time of adjustment. We’ll continue to post new blogs and articles daily!

Visit our complete guide on how to support your students and keep your family thriving during the COVID-19 crisis >

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