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Starting the School Year Off Right

They're used to being able to play all day...
They're used to being able to play all day...
Emily L. Goodman

Starting a virtual school year often doesn’t happen with a bang. In many ways, especially if you’ve been a virtual schooling family for some time already, it’s just a quiet transition from having plenty of free time during the day to having plenty of activities to fill the hours. On the other hand, transitioning from having all of those free hours to fill to having plenty of work to do can be very difficult for some children. Starting the school year off right will help to ensure success for both you and your child (or children) throughout the entire year.

Set aside a learning space. While your child obviously can (and frequently will, more than likely) complete just as many lessons on the couch as they can behind a desk, having a space set aside specifically for learning will make it easier to separate school time and fun time, particularly if you have more than one child at home.

Get started right. Class connect sessions won’t be starting up until a little bit further into the school year, but you should still insist that your child complete all assignments as they are given. Set aside time each day or each week to be sure that your child is getting done with the assignments they should be doing every day. Don’t let them get in the habit of skipping assignments or spending learning time on other activities now, or you’ll have a harder time getting them back on track later.

Have a special back-to-school treat in mind. This could be as complicated as a theme week in which you do lots of fun activities, or as simple as going out for ice cream at the end of the day. You could plan in a special field trip at the end of the first week, or simply get out to the park at the end of the day when all the schoolwork is done. You can either make this a one-time occurrence or a tradition that follows you throughout the year.

Communicate with your child’s teacher. During the early weeks of the school year, you will be contacted by your child’s homeroom teacher. Take this opportunity to share any concerns that you might have about your child or their education. Discuss what measures will be taken to improve your child’s academic performance this year. Let them know about any events that you anticipate changing your routine this school year: an upcoming birth, move, or even a vacation. Remember that communication is key: taking the time to talk to your teacher now may be the difference between a productive year and a frustrating one for all of you.

Check up on progress regularly. Make this part of your routine now. Don’t get in the habit of plopping down in front of the television while your kids are doing their schoolwork—get involved! Check their work when it’s done; look over their shoulders; peek in and see what they’re doing on the computer during school time. The more involved you are, the better the likelihood that their year will be a success.

Separate your children for part of the day. They’ll be more likely to be productive if they aren’t on top of each other all the time. This is one of the things that having a learning space helps; but in general, when they are engaging in learning time, they shouldn’t be talking about the movie that they want to see or the game that they want to play later.

Back to school time doesn't have to be stressful; and in fact, it can be a lot of fun. Just remember to start the way you intend to proceed, and to be consistent, and in the end, it will all work out!