What to Organize Now Back to School Online or In Person
This Fall during Back to School time we are again challenged with the uncertainties of online or in person school. Among the challenges ahead in this situation are work from home and school at home, anxiety about illness and gauging your kids’ academic success balanced with social interaction. Facing these unprecedented times we can be intentional with organized study areas dedicated to learning and forming good habits and consistent routines. Kids needs these certainties to do their best work. As with all organizing, there must be a space and a routine that work together to accomplish your goals.
Dedicate a learning space
Whether your children attend school in person or online, they will need a dedicated study area to work. Many makeshift areas were created this spring. Now is the time to set these areas up for success.
- Partner with your kids as you coach them and help them be accountable for their academic success. Everyone has their own reasons to be successful at school and hearing these helps you as a parent frame your discussions. Discuss the positive value of a dedicated learning space and how this helps achieve success.
- Choose your dining room or kitchen table. These are areas you can supervise while doing your work as well. If you need multiple spaces for your kids, think about other options in your home. The living room or home office can be part of a learning space rotation.
- Add a cart to hold books and supplies. Supplies can be easily accessed and organized with a 3 tier cart.
- Add headphones for kids to listen to classical music and block distractions.
- Set a routine study time. For online school, begin in the morning and take breaks for lunch and recess. For homework start after a snack and work around dinner.
Create a space that limits distractions and create clarity. For families and kids with ADHD, think about setting up body doubling in your learning space. Body doubling is where two people work parallel. Your home office can have an extra seat or extra folding table to work in this fashion.
Develop good routines
There are many important routines associated with school success. Calendaring with your planner promotes good time management and improved productivity. The best tool for a student is a week at a glance calendar. No matter how big or small, all assignments need to be written in the planner. Students consolidate online or in person assignments to their calendar to see all their assignments together. A week at a glance calendar gives kids the opportunity to plan completing assignments and studying for tests. Have your students highlight long term assignments and break these into manageable chunks through the week or month. Calendaring and writing stuff down is the best way to get the grades your child wants.
- Good routines include exercise, healthy eating and self care. Your kids and you need a bedtime that gives you all the rest you need. Having a central technology hub offers everyone the chance to recharge their devices and sleep well. During your family meeting, talk about how to set these guidelines into motion. These are the routines that become life skills for us all.
- Routines thrive when we help ourselves be accountable. That is tracking our success and tabulating how long we have been keeping consistent. We want to keep the “chain” of successes moving forward daily. Also, making the routines visual with notes and charts helps us remember each step. We may have a lot to keep in mind so a chart helps us track each step. The chart can be digital or paper, just so to keep these details top of mind.
Families with ADHD will find developing good routines to be the most difficult part of work, school and life. Start small and work in increments. Tag on a routine to an existing routine. Use praise and positivity as rewards for success. If at first you don’t succeed, re-examine where this fell apart.
What to organize now for Back to School reminds us, that while there are many things we don’t know and can’t know, there are many things we can do. We can set into motion the positive elements of success.
This is such an unusual time for families and students. I know that things are pretty rough by you now. New York has been through a bad period, but even with things getting better, there is still a huge debate about whether kids should return to school or not. There are pros and cons on each side.
Regardless of what happens and whether things end up being in person learning, online learning, or a combination of the two, the routines and organization suggestions you made will be helpful. Kids are used to having routines, and this is especially important to establish around their education. As you explained there is the time/planning component, and the physical aspect about how their space and supplies are organized.
Yes, we have lots of uncertainty this year. Knowing what we can do, like routines that help no matter the situation, helps us all get prepared and be more successful.