Set Up and Prepare for Online/Virtual School/Learning

COVID-19 has changed the way we do many things, including how our children are attending school and learning. Over 1.2 billion children have been impacted worldwide by school closures during the pandemic. Because of these closures, parents sought other avenues like virtual learning or homeschooling. Since there is no telling how long COVID-19 will shape school closures moving forward, now is a great time to help prepare your student for a different learning environment. One of the first steps is creating an online school setup that fosters learning. Doing so allows your child to prepare for and adapt quickly to a new learning schedule and environment. Check out these tips and resources to help you set up and prepare for online/virtual school/learning.

Importance of setting up a productive space for online learning

The first step is to set up and prepare for online school/learning. Your child’s online school setup could include many things like a kitchen table to virtual learning spaces. The trick is to find a place where your kid has room to do their homework quietly.

One common concern among parents is that their child will not learn as well at home. Not every virtual student has a corner of the house to call their own, but those that have a quiet space to themselves may flourish. Studies show that students can retain as much as 60% of the information they learn in a virtual environment since they can learn faster and may have fewer distractions in their home environment.

Set up shop for virtual school

When you set up and prepare for online school/learning, you can create a school desk setup where your child can be productive. Since everyone’s situation and living spaces are different, these are merely suggestions you can employ if they apply to you.

Let’s start with how you construct the setup first. Whether you’re employing a homeschool set up or distance learning set up, these are some things you can do to help your child stay productive as they learn:

  • Provide a chair where they can reach the desk at a comfortable level. Doing this helps them avoid neck strain and can even reduce fatigue as they learn. If you do not have a chair that sits high enough, you can use throw pillows or cushions to help them retain a proper posture when using their online school desk setup.
  • When thinking of kids’ desk ideas, consider what you already have in your home. A kitchen table or a computer desk will work fine if you can achieve the proper seating height. You could also buy a foldable table from Costco or any other retailer cheaply. If space is your concern, a collapsible table that can be tucked away after school may be beneficial.
  • Next, you want to ensure your kid’s online school set up has proper lighting for studying. LED lights provide adequate lighting while reducing eye strain. You can also have a desk light they angle when reading a textbook or doing homework.
  • Create a calm environment where your child can reflect as they learn. You could include vibrant wall art to give your home classroom set up a cheerful tone. The key here is to find colors and art that resonate with your child.
  • The virtual learning space should also be functional. Ideally, all your child’s classroom materials are in one area, so they can access them as needed. You can have Dollar Store storage cubes to organize items, or you can rely on craft supply organizers.
  • As part of the functionality, you will need a reliable internet connection. If you experience intermittent or slow connection speeds, consider connecting your computer to the router/modem/or WiFi gateway via ethernet for a more reliable connection.
  • Have your child help create the space with you! This will help them acclimate to their new environment more efficiently and give them a sense of control and ownership.

Prepare by Reducing distractions and staying positive during virtual learning

Virtual learning will be an adjustment for your child and everyone else in your home. After implementing homework station ideas, you will want to focus on cultivating an area of silence and positivity to help your child thrive. This will help your child prepare for online school/learning. Here are some tips:

  • Designate a quiet time when your child studies. It should include keeping the TV off and limiting other noises when they work. This may require cooperation from the whole family to try to be quieter during this time, especially if the at-home learning space doesn’t have its own door.
  • Keep their online school setup organized and clean so they can study and work efficiently. Avoid being the one to tidy the station for your child; use this time to teach them about responsibility.
  • To help them handle stress or give them a playful break, include fidget spinners, smooth stones, or a nerf basketball hoop.
  • When employing kids’ study room ideas, one thing to consider is providing a visual schedule each day, either on a whiteboard or a piece of paper taped to the wall. It gives your child a chance to see what their day looks like, so they can prepare for it. It also gives them an incentive as break times approach. As part of creating a visual schedule, try to keep times somewhat consistent, but include your child in the scheduling process.
  • Another tip is to help them practice stretching and calming behaviors as they work. Since your child will be sitting more to do their homework, it can help them stay alert as the day wears on.
  • You could also schedule some downtime for your child. More screen time can result in lower educational attainments, higher incidences of depression, and poorer sleep outcomes. With this in mind, sprinkle in some recess every day where your child gets out and plays. If your schedule can manage it, try to take a 10-15-minute break every hour.
  • You could also set up virtual meetings and playdates with their classmates, so they don’t feel alone. Teach them how to play some virtual games with their friends.
Set up and Prepare for Online/Virtual School/Learning

Back to (online) school tips

If your child isn’t a full-time homeschooler, one day they’ll head back to the classroom. As your child goes back to school, help them understand their schedule more by creating a weekly visual schedule. If your school district protocols include some days in school and some at home, your child can now easily track which days are home learning days and which are in school. To help them feel safe when they go into the public, here are some tips:

  • Have a talk with your child about COVID-19. Explain to them calmly what the facts are and what they can do to keep safe. You can also use this time to stress healthy behaviors like wearing a mask (not swapping those masks with classmates), maintaining a safe distance from friends and teachers, and washing their hands while saying their ABCs.
  • Encourage your child to take breaks when offered at school. Getting out to exercise is also a fun way for them to socialize from a safe distance.
  • Stress the importance of discussing any communication from the school (for instance, if the school emails your child but not you) and having your kid take advantage of all school resources offered. Some schools loan out laptops or share tutoring resources, and your child should feel empowered to use them.
  • If your child encounters a problem at school, or even a problem with virtual learning,  encourage them to speak to you about it. It opens up a dialogue where both of you can identify barriers and present solutions to work through them. It is a critical life skill they can use in many ways.
  • Next, have you and your child find fun tasks they will love. Make crafts together, go on a safe trip to a park, shop for cool masks, play their favorite board or video game. And make these fun activities random. That way, they don’t associate fun with not being at school.

Prepare to maintain balance during online schooling

Enduring this pandemic is a balancing act for everyone involved. It’s ideal to aim for positivity and have fun with the process. Since it could be the new normal for the foreseeable future, here are ways to strike a balance between having a schedule and adjusting it as you learn more:

  • To start, you will want to create a roadmap of progress both you and your child can visualize. Create short-term and long-term goals you want to see accomplished. To demonstrate, if you want your daughter to read Charlotte’s Web, that could be the long-term goal. Then, you could have them read a chapter a night as the short-term goal. As part of goal-planning, it’s vital to be flexible and share your goals with your children. Talk to them about what you want to see them accomplish and how you can help them get there. It lets them know they’re not alone and they can achieve these things.
  • Students involved in the time-management process are more likely to see benefits to attaining their goals. When going over time-management, gain input from your child. Ask them how long they think it will take to complete a specific task. Will, there be any part of the goal that causes them anxiety, and what, if anything, can you do to help them? Talking with your child about their mental approach to tasks and being accessible to help them can reduce their anxiety and help them feel more confident when managing their time.
  • Consider enrolling them in an Enrichment Course to explore a topic of interest and get them excited about and engaged in learning again.
  • Ultimately, you will want to be patient and flexible during the process. It is a new process for everyone involved. Flexibility allows both you and your child to create a balance between achieving their educational goals while also allowing them space to do other things.
Set up and Prepare for Online/Virtual School/Learning

Resources to help parents with online learning

As this can be an overwhelming process for parents, teachers, and kids to undertake. Understanding where to get resources can help to calm some of your concerns. Below is a list of resources that could help:

Virtual learning scholarships

For some households, a virtual learning scholarship could help your child receive the resources, support, and teaching assistance they need.

  • Georgia offers the SOLVE scholarship for qualifying families.
  • Apex Learning Virtual School provides scholarships for high school students wanting to do virtual learning
  • To see what resources are available in your area, contact your child’s school district, the state’s board of education, or Google virtual learning scholarships available in your area.

Support programs

Support programs come in many forms. It could be community opportunities, child care, or school programs for low-income families. Some of these programs available include:

  • Khan Academy: The academy provides free education and a progress dashboard, where students, teachers, and parents can monitor progress conveniently.
  • Jumpstart: Jumpstart creates a blueprint for educational success through a kindergarten program, which combines community resources with students from low-income families to achieve positive learning environments.
  • The Education Trust: It helps minority students gain access to more higher-education opportunities.
  • WorldWise Tutoring‘s Student Handbook and YouTube channel contain many free resources for various grade levels and subjects. They also have Standby Tutoring “Office Hours” 7 days/week!

Teacher and school resources

Teachers and schools can access a bevy of virtual educational resources like:

Internet providers offering support to students and virtual learning

Families who need assistance in accessing the internet can do so through these initiatives:

  • Lifeline: You can receive discounted internet service through providers if you meet income eligibility.
  • EveryoneOn: Do you need help finding a low-cost internet provider in your area? EveryoneOn will help you access affordable options near you.

Students with special needs

For families needing resources in this area, you can turn to:

  • Google Chrome extensions are tools for students with special needs.
  • The New York Public Library offers free tutoring to students.
  • BookShare gives free access to those who do not have alternatives to free literature in their area.

Originally appeared on