8 Tips for Parents: What to do when school moves online due to coronavirus

For more, check out our full Coronavirus Resource Library at this link.

Many parents have kids home from school for the next few weeks. And they’re juggling working remotely at the same time. We’re hearing it from all of our parents (and even dealing with it ourselves!).

What do you do with kids home due to coronavirus closures? How do you help your kids now that their classes are online? 

At ArborBridge, we’ve been working with students online for nearly a decade, many of them homeschoolers. 

Here’s what we’ve learned you can do to support your students.


#1: Make a schedule

If there’s anything to take away from this post, it’s to MAKE A SCHEDULE. This is going to be key. Everybody, especially teens and children, need something stable among all this chaos. And a schedule can provide that stability. 

It will keep students on track when they don’t have a teacher looking over their shoulders. It will also help you—if you’re balancing remote work and parenting—find a way to make it all work.

In some cases, your school may provide you with a schedule to follow. But in most cases the schedule will likely be pretty flexible, with lots of “individual learning time” that you and your student will have to track and manage.

If you’re stuck having to create much of the schedule yourself, use your child’s normal school day as a guide. Block out times for starting the school day, the basic classes, recess/break time, lunch, practicing an instrument or sport, and ending the school day. 

High school students are at the perfect age to mature in self-managing their own time. Let them set their own schedules and just check in from time to time. Send them to our 7 Tips for Students post to help them get started. No need to micromanage unless you see they’re struggling. 

Finally, gather all of your students’ schedules together and post them where everyone can see them in your house.


#2: Decide who works where

Depending on how many family members you have at home, make a shared decision about who works where and when. Boundaries ahead of time will help minimize conflicts and keep everyone as productive as possible. 

In addition, pick a few places in your household that are “no-work zones” for dedicated relaxation, togetherness, and minimal screen time.

Use handy tricks to signal “do not disturb,” like a post-it note on the door. Your kids can use it when they’re in a session with a teacher/class, and you can use it when you’re on a work call.


#3: Pack your lunch

It’s going to seem weird to “pack” a lunch when you’re eating at home. But it works. You don’t have to drag out the lunchboxes. Just be sure to make everyone’s lunch the night before, so you and the kids can grab-and-go when lunchtime hits. There’ll be less disruption to your day—and much less stress.


#4: Take advantage of screens—then turn them off

We love what screens allow us to keep learning and stay connected with friends and family. That said, now more than ever, we all need breaks from screen time. 

Have an open conversation about how your children can take breaks from screens. Come up with ideas for other fun and relaxing ways to spend time. Young people can read, daydream, stretch, have a living room dance party, or just lie on a comfortable surface and close their eyes for a few minutes. 

As a family, take time to cook a meal together, or go for a long walk if you live in an area that is not densely populated and no one in your household is quarantined. And keep any family rituals you have, like daily family dinners or sleeping in on weekends.


#5: Take it day by day

Each night, plan out the next day’s schedule in more detail. Ask your student what worked that day and what they struggled with. Then tweak the plan for the next day.

For students, we love this very simple daily planner provided by a classroom teacher we follow—make a copy in Google Docs and re-copy (or print out) each day for a fresh start.


#6: Know how your kids will be graded and how you’ll be informed  

Find out from your student’s teachers how they will assess students during this period. Are exams cancelled? Are there daily online assignments to submit? Is attending a video lecture awarded points? The work during this period still counts, but assessment criteria is likely to dramatically change. Make sure you and your child understand these changes.

Also ask how you’ll be kept in the loop. Sudden changes in your student’s grades will be one of the first flags they aren’t dealing well with the transition online. This is especially true for older students who will want to manage this move on their own.


#7: Familiarize yourself with the basic apps

Schools will use a wide diversity of online resources in the next few weeks. Here’s a quick crash course in the most common ones. You don’t have to become an expert. But it’s helpful to generally know the types of tools schools are using. If your student needs help getting set up with online systems, ArborBridge tutors are equipped to support this process.

  • Document sharing: Google Drive is a centralized platform for sharing and editing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more. Many schools will likely use Google Drive or Google Classroom to set up students’ coursework. Some will also post pre-recorded video lessons in Drive for students to watch.
  • Video conferencing: Zoom is our favorite video platform. It’s easy to have small-group or 1-1 conversations and share screens. And it’s now free to schools who use it during closures, so we expect lots of teachers will use it. (You may even be using it for work!)
  • Online curriculum/content: Khan Academy is the ultimate free online platform for self-guided learning in a host of subjects across all grade levels, including SAT prep. Hippocampus offers plenty of free content videos. Quizlet is a massive resource for pre-existing quizzable flashcards on many standard academic subjects. Fiveable and AP Classroom are excellent free resources for AP course content.
  • Visual tools: GoConqr is a multi-tool platform for mind-mapping, note-taking, schedule-planning, and more. Great for students who like to see everything visualized and centralized.
  • Time management: We love Marinara Timer for keeping on track during an individual study session. Your student will work in cycles of 25 minutes of work punctuated by 5 minute breaks, with a longer 15-minute break after 4 cycles. (Great for managing remote work as an adult, too!)


#8: Remember they were built for this

Digital-native young people know it better than the rest of us: there are so many meaningful, real ways to connect online. And your students can use these to support their schoolwork and their social needs at the same time. Encourage your child to stay in touch with their friends through whatever channels they already know and love. 

What’s more, humans are highly adaptable by nature—young people even more so. This may be a tough time, but it may also be more manageable than our anxieties imagine.


BONUS TIP: Forgive yourself, and ask for help.

There’s no way around it. This is going to be hard. It’s not going to be perfect, and that’s ok. Remember, everyone’s in the same boat. You aren’t doing this alone. 


If your student needs help staying on  track with assignments for school, ArborBridge is currently offering significantly discounted academic mentorship tutoring for any student affected by COVID-19 school closures. Contact us today to set up a program.


About ArborBridge

ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.

About Eleanor Sharp

You also might like: