Back-to-school co-parenting: how to support online learning

Back to school is always a busy time of year – arranging pick-ups from soccer practice, attending piano recitals and purchasing school supplies. But this year, it’s a whole new ballgame. Many children will be attending school 100% remotely – putting added responsibility on parents to support their children’s education.

If both you and your co-parent share custody during the school week, it’s important to get on the same page about expectations to support your child’s online learning. Here are some topics you may want to discuss with your co-parent:

Study space

While it may be convenient to let your child sit on their bed or in front of the TV while attending school online, such spaces are not ideal for learning. Your child associates these spaces with sleep and leisure, so it can be hard to focus on work in such environments. If possible, find a corner of the house where you can set up a table and chair – and make this your child’s designated workspace.

Performance expectations

It can be easy for online school not to feel like “real school,” but it’s important to let your child know early on that you expect them to take it just as seriously. Stay involved as much as possible. Check that they’re doing their homework and attending all their classes.

School day schedule

Children work well within a fixed schedule and routine. Get them ready for school each day in the same way as you would if they were attending in person. Have them shower, get dressed and have breakfast all before their online classes begin. This will make them more mentally prepared for the day.

Down time

Whether at home or in school, no one can be expected to focus on their studies non-stop throughout the day. Make sure your child is getting up and taking breaks throughout the day. Standing up and moving around for a few minutes every hour is good for them physically as well as mentally.

In addition, you and your co-parent may want to rethink how you allow your child to spend their leisure time during the pandemic. Remember, they’ll now be spending their entire school day sitting in front of a screen. Do you want to limit their screen time outside of school? Do you want to encourage them to stay active, and engage in non-sedentary activities in their free time?

We’re facing an unparalleled set of circumstances. In the hurry to adapt, it’s natural to feel stressed. Open communication and cooperation with your co-parent are critical during this unusual time.

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