8 Helpful Tips To Kick-start A Fresh Virtual Academic Year!

Another year has gone by, only this time with more bittersweet memories!

A big shout out to all the parents! For successfully going through this year while beating all the odds of the academic year for your children.

Trust us, we all have been through this! You and your children deserve applause for the perseverance and calmness that you have tried to maintain. 

On the other hand, digital education can be said as one of the best breakthroughs in technology. Can we envisage the pandemic if online education wasn't available? We are still nowhere near a conventional in-school system for this and maybe, for later years too. 

The preparation for the regular start of the digital academic year of schooling differs on various fronts. Here are a few tips to start with another virtual academic year based on the profound experience we all had in 2020! 

1. Scheduling is Important

The most critical is to maintain a plan for everything happening at home. Maintaining the schedule closest to the "school time-table" is the best bet you have. Experts suggest to follow a sleep schedule and distributed hours for every activity as per regular school life is also paramount. Good predictability of what happens next will keep everyone on track for their respective responsibilities. Encourage the children to make/ write their schedule themselves or participate while making their time-table for the day. Knowing the routine beforehand will help them in adhering to it with self-discipline.

2. Offer exciting Brain Breaks

Prepare a list of brain breaks that suit your children's needs, temperament, interests and age. The kids will themselves sync their routine with the set schedule for the lucrative brain breaks. Brain breaks in post-school-hours help to perform better in terms of homework, projects and additional school work. Weekly shuffling between various brain breaks will help the kids to stay occupied and fascinated with activities. Everyone faced the same issue that left you helpless last year - how to keep the children engaged constructively and adhere to online learning? These brin breaks will not only incline them to look forward to some fun but will allow you time to do your work/job/chores without too much interruption. 

(Check our blogs for more details on brain breaks)

3. Positive feedback and Appreciation

Extracting motivation and positivity from the last academic year is equally important to start with the new digital academic year on an assertive note. Discuss the progress of your children with the teachers. Likewise, discuss the issues, opinions, interests and overall situation of home-schooling with your kids too. Bestow them with genuine and honest appreciation while keeping the appropriate checks they need to take care of. Regular teacher-parent meeting, assessments, results will encourage them to move forward and accept the new normal with an improved perspective. Rather than only correcting and chastising the kids, we need to focus, with even greater intent, on finding their strengths and play with them.

4. Observe, adapt, implement

For younger kids, parents had to be present in person while online classes were broadcasting. The parents have had the chance to closely monitor their children and their reactions to subjects, activities, topics. It's a boon to know if he/she is facing difficulty coping with the course speed or understanding any concepts. The parents now understand better about the subjects your child likes and what interests him/her over other topics. These observations can be discussed with their teacher at the beginning of the academic year. Incorporate flexibility for subject-topics that are difficult and schedule additional classes for them at later hours. For the concepts that are not clear, ask the teachers to keep the video recording to be viewed again after school hours to avoid undue pressure on the kids. For particular concepts, rearrange the classes or shift the timings to a slot when children are more attentive, preferably in the morning hours. It is all about observing and adapting, from the beginning, to get the best results out of new methods on virtual learning. 

5. Staying in touch

Not going to school should not intervene with general socializing that our children need for their generic development. Offer the best possible opportunity for your kids to meet with their friends, have play-dates, or have video calls to keep in touch with their peers. Of course, all of the socializing has to be done with safety measures in place. A few hours in the open space during mid-season breaks or holidays keep them rejuvenated for a better start to the upcoming term. Video play dates are also one of the popular options where the parents want to prevent endangering kids in the current situation. Darsh, a father of 5 yo from Chennai, said, "After this period of social distancing, our building society decided time and rules for children to play. The parents have to monitor that no kids are without a mask. The kids play games (that maintain distancing) in the slots decided for their age group and frequent sanitizing. The effect of moving out of the house on the behaviour of our daughter is so gratifying!" 

6. Virtual classroom  

Creating a designated space for schooling is an effective way to roar-start the new virtual academic year. It is not mandatory to have a separate room for the same as Indian Households do not have the concept of a separate room for everyone. A designated table, an individual screen-device, a nook in one of the rooms is good to go. The children should feel that just like their school, they have a designated seat for their classes. The conducive environment has a conscious psychological impact on their minds about classroom discipline. It is imminent to design a place that is not the regular spot for their regular games or watching television. Just like your work-from-home set-up having a school-from-home set-up will improve their performance and concentration.

7. Impress upon Off-screen time

Digital education is synonymous with the use of screens. The villain of the life of most parents has become indispensable with the online education system. It is even more necessary to take and strategize for lesser screen time. Resisting and forcing screen-offtime would only do so good. Motivating your children to involve themselves in fun, skill-enhancing, and physical activities is the only way to cut down on additional screen-time. For school activities, and classwork try to obtain print outs and let the kids complete them physically to avoid screen use. Now with adapting to changes, teachers are sending hard copies for classwork and projects. Offering hobbies and extracurricular activities towards which the kids are naturally inclined will prompt them to avoid screen-use on their own will. 

8. Prepare like before

Prepare for the new academic session with all the arrangement like normal. New books, a few new stationery, a set of new clothes or uniform can bring the experience as close to normal as possible. Your children must understand that not attending school in person is not equivalent to vacation, and they are expected to adhere to prepare for everyday school like always. Packing books as per periods on the time table, ironing the uniform, bathing on time before the start of school, these regular activities that commensurate with the original school routine will help them to gain confidence and tune their biological clocks to this new regime!

The teachers are bearing additional efforts to bring online teaching as close as possible to traditional schooling. However, an equal responsibility has been put on the parents as their guidance and presence has become indispensable. 

The children, especially the primary class ones, are affected by this shift of base with innumerable distractions at their hands reach.

These points are not magical tips that will remove the pressure in a flick of a wand but will surely help navigate through another year of online learning.

Please do share your views and experiences in the comments below. Help other parents to face their personal situations and concerns of virtual learning. 

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