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With the new school year just around the corner, many school districts are announcing their plans for the fall. Some schools will be in person, some will be teaching remotely and some will offer a mix. If your school district is including remote learning in their plans, it’s important to prepare now to help your student have a successful year.

Set Up Your Remote Learning Space

Start by setting up a comfortable area with the right technology for your child to connect from.

  • Create a designated location. Whether your child studies at the dining room table, a reading nook in the living room or a desk space in their bedroom, having a place that’s clutter-free and set up for doing schoolwork is essential.
  • Let in natural light. If possible, choose a location with a window so your child has access to natural light. Studying in a well-lit room can help them stay alert and avoid eyestrain and headaches.
  • Focus on ergonomics. Children can be more productive when they have a comfortable workspace with a chair that supports their back and is positioned to provide proper alignment for working at a computer.
  • Test your technology. Test the Wi-Fi signal in the place where your child will be connecting to the internet to make sure you have enough bandwidth for all the connected devices in your home. Whether they have a school-issued laptop or their own device, give the device itself a test run before the first day, too.
  • Scope out camera angles. Practice using video conferencing tools so your child will be more confident using the tool when needed during classtime. Seek out the right space where you feel comfortable with what can be seen on screen and remove any potential distractions from the background.
  • Teach online safety. Talk to your child about protecting themselves (and their identity) online. This includes safeguarding passwords and not clicking suspicious links or interacting with strangers. Review any games or apps before downloading them and make sure privacy settings are enabled.

Establish a Routine

Maintaining structure throughout the day can help your child focus and complete their work independently.

  • Follow a weekday schedule. Create a calendar to keep track of virtual classes or meetings, and build in time for working on assignments. Your family’s remote learning schedule won’t necessarily follow a typical school day, but aiming for consistency will lighten the load.
  • Take breaks. Schedule time for lunch, snacks and movement. Healthy food, regular exercise and fresh air can help your child stay energized throughout the day. Yoga poses, jumping jacks or a walk around the block provide great breaks, too.
  • Get creative. Make time for art, music and creative play. Encourage your child to paint, draw, practice an instrument, dance or simply listen to music as a way to express themselves.
  • Encourage social interaction. Help your child stay connected with family and friends with regular phone calls, letter writing or video chats.

Find a Balance

As a parent, supervising your child’s remote learning routine requires you to juggle your own work and activities in a whole new way.

  • Talk to your employer. Ask about possibilities for a flexible schedule or telework.
  • Work around your schedule. You may not be available when your child needs help. Encourage them to connect with their teacher whenever possible. Set aside a time that works for you to check in with your child, too.
  • Set realistic expectations. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember you don’t have to be perfect. It’s OK to let some things go and do your best with the time and resources you have.
  • Connect with other parents. You’re not alone in tackling the challenges of remote learning, and you may find that sharing your experiences with other parents can help you navigate this path together.

Stay on Track Financially

Setting up a successful remote-learning environment doesn’t have to cost a lot.

  • Source your supplies. Save money by looking for secondhand office furniture or ask family and friends if you can borrow a desk or chair. If you have technology needs, contact your child’s school to see if they offer computers, tablets or mobile Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Take advantage of what’s free. Check out free online remote learning resources to keep things interesting. Nonprofit and educational organizations offer free instructional videos, live streams and other interactive resources that can supplement learning, and virtual field trips to museums, historical sites and zoos can offer that as well.

Whatever this school year brings, know that patience, creativity and community support can help you navigate it.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.