Preparing for distance learning: Parental resources, tips for teaching their own kids this school year

The beginning of school will be a different experience from any other in your family’s history. Some schools have started the school year with in-person instructions. In other areas, parents, caregivers and even siblings will soon be once again thrust into home schooling because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

So how do you become not only a parent but also a teacher during the COVID-19 outbreak?

The first thing, experts say, is don’t panic. While schools shut down somewhat unexpectedly at the end of the 2019-20 school year, this year families have more time to get their ducks in a row and get what they need ready now.

Erin Girard, an expert on homeschooling for Outschool, told the ”Today” show that neither parents nor teachers may get it right at the start but that we all need to be flexible and adapt to the situation.

Knowledge is key.

Not the knowledge of trying to find what x minus y equals. Instead, it’s the knowledge of your state’s curriculum requirements for your child’s grade especially if you plan on going full home-school, not remote learning through your district.

Click here to find the laws that dictate your child’s home-schooling education.

Look for help

You are not on island with your family alone. You are surrounded by resources. Scholastic has a fee-based service. Google is even getting in on the education game, compiling a list of teacher-approved apps, “Today” reported.

Create a routine

Routine is key when there are changes in how a family functions. You may even need to have a printed schedule on display to keep everyone on the same page, “Today” reported.

A checklist could help keep kids on track and give them goals to complete, Johns Hopkins University said.

Learn how your child learns

Not all kids can hunker down and read chapter after chapter. You need to know how they learn, and by doing so, you won’t have quite as many fights and disagreements, The New York Times reported. Once you figure that out, then talk to your child’s teachers to work out a learning plan.


Khan Academy said don’t let the physical separation be a barrier. Use tools if you can, like Google Docs and Slides, to allow students to work together when permitted.

Get social with classmates and friends, but from a distance. Set up homework or study dates between classmates and friends, Parents magazine suggested.

But not only do kids need collaborations, so do parents. Talk to your child’s teachers and ask for feedback and even help, and do it early rather than after everyone is at their wit’s end, the Times suggests.


Think back to last year and talk about what worked and what didn’t work when they unexpectedly started distance learning.

Set up

Have a designated workspace for your child to work. Just like how you need a workspace at home, they need one too, Parents magazine reported.

Also, avoid distractions. If you can, don’t have your kids working in where there is something that could take their focus away from their schooling, Johns Hopkins University suggested.

Get active

It stinks being stuck in front of a computer for hours. Think how boring it is for kids no matter the age to be staring at a laptop for seven or eight hours a day in and day out. Elementary school kids my have to push through from one subject to another without their recess, gym and lunchroom breaks. Junior high and high school students don’t have the change of classes to walk the halls and get a reset.

Parents magazine suggested creating fun activities that increase physical fitness and physical activity, but do it as a family.

Give immediate positive feedback

Who doesn’t like a pat on the back? Little kids love stickers, so when they get something right, put that gold star on their paper or their checklist. The feedback will help encourage them to get through their tasks. Or give them extra video game time or allow them to have an extra snack before bed, Johns Hopkins suggested.