With so many children currently using educational technologies in some manner, parents may find it difficult to create schedules that reinforce routines. Children are used to structure and predictability but creating a consistent routine is difficult when learning needs to take place in the home. Kids eventually will be returning to school full-time, so keeping that structure in place is critical to maintain their learning progress in this time. The upside of the virtual learning technologies is that they have built in calendars and reminders that can help students link their daily tasks to the classroom, while also giving parents an easy way to set a routine during the day. With kids returning to in-person learning,
Creating a “School Day”
Balance, structure, and routine in all aspects of a families’ home and life are more important than ever as we wade through this pandemic, and they give children and teens that sense of control they crave. In small and big ways, giving your child control within the home is paramount for mental health.
One of the most important things that parents can do for their children is to treat remote learning like they would treat a traditional school day. Whatever rules you normally set for your children – from television and video games to mealtimes and bedtimes – should be the same whether your child is attending in-person or remote classes. Setting rules around things like calling/texting friends should also be similar to the way children would be interacting with friends during a traditional in-person school day.
Creating a “school day” means making sure that your child is following the same behaviors at home during traditional school hours that would be followed in the classroom including:
- No phone calls
- No television
- No texting
- No video games
Once you have those rules set, you can start putting together a schedule for your child and the rest of your family to help set a school/work/life routine.
Using Google Classroom
Most school districts are using Google Classroom as their “virtual” schools. The good news is that this means you have a lot of great technology tools at your fingertips. The bad news is that school email accounts don’t transfer to other applications for things like email and appointment scheduling.
So, let’s start with the Google Classroom tools that are available.
The first thing to look at is that “Google Classroom Calendar” link which is in the upper left-hand corner of the homepage login.
If your school is scheduling assignments using the Calendar feature, this gives you a quick and easy view into the day’s expectations, at least as far as school work is concerned.
To add new items to your child’s calendar, you need to go through a few extra steps.
First, click on any of the class cards to get to a menu and click on the “Classwork” link that will give you the opportunity to see the Google Calendar.
Then, click on that and it works like any other calendar. You can create new “events” and add reminders. Click on a day and you get this popup:
This allows you to set a time, just like you would for a meeting. In this case, you might want to make this a specified time such as “finish social studies assignment” or “half hour play break.”
If your child is using the Google Classroom calendar for school, they can also use it to help create their routine.
Making a Shared Calendar
The biggest problem with the Google Classroom calendar is that in order to protect student privacy, parents can’t export that calendar into their own. This means that while a child might be able to follow their calendar, you need to keep your own calendar and your child’s open. That means more monitoring, more work, and less brain power for everyone.
When people need to focus, they shouldn’t have to waste precious brain power thinking about little details like monitoring multiple calendars. Creating a single calendar that tracks events for everyone in the family means that your brains can power up and alert you to the task at hand. A shared calendar gives you a way to increase everyone’s ability to focus – both adults and children.
If you’re comfortable with the idea, you can create a Google account just for your child’s routine. You don’t need to share this email with your child if you want to protect their privacy or if they’re too young to have an email. It can be an anonymous account just so that you can create a shared calendar across all family members.
Most likely, to create a calendar across all members of the family, you’ll need a unique email for all of you. While this setup seems really awkward and cumbersome, the end result will make things easier for everyone.
Cool Apps For Shared Calendars
A lot of cool applications let you share calendars across multiple accounts – whether Google or not – and across devices.
Some examples are:
- Google Calendar
- Microsoft Outlook
- Apple Calendar
- My Study Life
Each of these has different features to help you manage all meetings and scheduling for the whole family.
Putting All Meetings in One Place
The whole goal of doing this front end work is to have everyone’s meetings, assignments, and activities in one place. You can color code each person’s calendar so that everyone can see at-a-glance who is busy, when they’re busy, and how long they’re busy for:
If you want to get even more detailed, including the times that a child should be working on a given assignment can be included as well:
The good thing about a shared calendar for the whole family is that it gives everyone an idea of who should be doing what and also who can answer a child’s questions about school work.
The benefit of a digital calendar over a paper calendar is that when you update an event in one location, it automatically updates everywhere. For example, if a caretaker’s meeting moves from 8am to 9:30am, the calendar updates everywhere and the child can more easily see the change. If the meeting updates at the last minute, the caretaker might forget to update a handwritten schedule which can lead to confusion, especially for children who struggle with transition issues.
Making It All Work
No one knows how long children will be learning either entirely or partially remotely. However, what we do know is that when kids have clear boundaries, then they are more likely to succeed.
We also know that when children know what is expected, they feel less anxiety because they feel like they’re more in control of their lives.
As you navigate this new world of learning while also likely working from home, the key to success for everyone will be having a set schedule that, if not exactly like a pre-COVID day, at least provides structure and routine.
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She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach. She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).
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