As schools adjust to life in a pandemic, this back-to-school season is shaping up to be different than any other before it. Some schools will return to in-person instruction this fall while others will begin the year remotely. The New York City Department of Education announced that public schools will take a hybrid approach this fall, with students attending class in person part of the week and remotely on the remaining days.
Whether your student is facing partial or total remote instruction this fall, there are several ways you can help them thrive while learning from home. From creating a daily schedule to building the perfect workspace, you can start setting up your remote routine now in preparation for the first day of school. Here are just a few tips for making the most of remote learning.
1. Make sure your student has all the supplies they need.
Even remote learners need to do some back to school shopping. Of course, your student will need a computer and webcam to complete their work and check into remote classes, but don’t forget your standard school supplies! Make sure you have plenty of notebooks, pencils, folders, scissors and more on hand so that your student is prepared for any kind of activity or assignment. Stevdan Stationers on West 12th Street has all your school and art supplies needs covered, as well as plenty of games and crafts to keep your student entertained outside of “school hours.” High school and college students will love the stylish supplies available at Goods for the Study that make every assignment Instagram-worthy.
2. Create specific “learning spaces” in your home.
While your student may argue that their bed is a much better spot for learning than an actual desk, they’re going to need a specific workspace for remote learning. Space in New York City apartments may be at a premium but you can likely find a corner of your home to turn into a makeshift classroom for your student. A good quality desk or table is a must; local shops like Goods for the Study and Vitsoe offer desks and workspaces for all sizes of homes. A cozy reading nook will also keep your student comfy during independent study or reading times. Outfit your space with stylish and plush throws and pillows from Area.
3. Set a schedule and stick to it.
The typical school day offers students the structure they need to focus on their studies – a remote learning schedule should aim to replicate this as best as possible, keeping your student’s individual needs in mind. Your student’s school will give you an idea of their expectations for live instruction attendance and assignments. Build a schedule that includes time to work on each assignment as well as time for reading, play and meals. A schedule will help you and your student settle into a routine that keeps everyone on track for success.
4. Help your student stay on top of communication with their teachers.
Though this generation of students is more digitally connected than ever, they may not be used to the routine of checking emails and other electronic communications from teachers, school administrators and peers. Make time in your student’s schedule every day to check their messages from school. If they’re not in the habit of doing so already, be sure to remind them. This extra help and prompting will help them avoid missing important communications about assignments and other schoolwork.
5. Take advantage of resources from your student’s school.
Whether your student attends a public, private or charter school, their school’s administration may have certain resources available to help guide you through the remote learning process. Check your school’s website and reach out to administration to see what might be available, particularly for students with disabilities or specific learning needs. The New York City Department of Education offers lots of resources on their website to aid in health education, physical activity, English language learning and more from home. Private tutors may also be available in your area for students who need extra support during this time.
6. Have a technology contingency plan.
After hours of work and remote instruction, your student’s computer or tablet may need a tune up. If you’re not a tech expert yourself, you may need to call in some professional help for any quick fixes to your student’s gear. Keep the numbers of local computer repair shops handy in case you need some help. Here in Greenwich Village, Dr. Brendan Mac Repair specializes in support for most Apple products, including iMacs and Macbooks. The staff at UBREAKIFIX on 8th Street also works with all manner of devices, from laptops to game consoles.
7. Look for opportunities for learning outside the home or other enrichment opportunities.
As many schools turn to full or partial remote learning this fall, many extracurricular activities and enrichment programs have also been put on pause. However, there are still plenty of opportunities to safely enhance your student’s education outside of home instruction. Greenwich House Youth Community Center is currently offering a daily Student Enrichment Program for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The program’s schedule includes time for remote instruction, enrichment programs in art and science and breaks for lunch and recess. The GHYCC’s After-School Classes are also returning this fall for all students. Mathnasium in Union Square is also offering online tutoring this fall throughout the day. This is the perfect way to help your student sharpen their math skills with one-on-one instruction.
8. Get some fresh air.
Every student, from kindergarten through college, needs a little fresh air in between study sessions. Recess is every kid’s favorite time of day for a reason! Make sure to schedule in some time for your student to get outside and stretch their legs every day. Washington Square Park offers plenty of play space for kids big and small and space for older students to stretch out with a book and a cup of coffee. Just be sure that both you and your student wear a face covering and maintain six feet of distance between yourselves and people outside of your household. If you’re heading to the playground, be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently. And of course, stay home if you or your student is sick.
9. Stay flexible.
While structure is important when it comes to remote learning, flexibility is also key. With new developments every day in regard to the pandemic, constant changes are inevitable. It’s likely that your student’s daily routine may look totally different at the end of the fall than it does now. Adapting to changes and learning styles is necessary in these times, so be open to adjustments. Whatever happens, see this time as an opportunity for growth for both you and your student.