Parenting is no easy feat. Even under normal circumstances, raising kids who are empowered, empathetic, persistent problem-solvers is a very big deal. Add in the everyday logistical puzzle of meal-making, homework-helping, and errand-running, and the mind reels. It’s hard. Under any circumstances, it’s hard.

If distance learning is throwing you for a loop, you’re not alone. Caregivers, educators, and kids are all navigating unfamiliar territory. In the spirit of building on the ideas of others, here are some distance learning tips that have worked for other parents.

Set the Stage

It’s important to feel like you have a designated space set aside for school. We don’t have an extra room, so we just set up at the dining room table, but I did repurpose a few baskets and paper trays just for school. Each child has their own tray and box where we keep all their books and school supplies. At the end of the day, everything goes back into the trays and boxes so the space becomes a dining room table again.” —Hope, parent of two grade-schoolers

“The first few times we took online classes, we didn’t have enough space, and my kiddos were frustrated. Now we set up on a big patio table so there’s plenty of room for their materials, a snack and water bottle, and the laptop.” —Maggie, parent of two preschoolers and one grade-schooler

“A little heads up goes a long way in my family. We’re big fans of time reminders: ‘You’ll have your class tomorrow morning, in an hour, in 20 minutes,’ and so on.” —Tabetha, parent of two grade-schoolers

Try to get organized early with who needs to be where, when. My kids are old enough to use a shared calendar, so we all plot important items like assignment due dates or meeting times on a shared family calendar. Talk to your kids about what’s being assigned and stay involved so you can support as needed.” —Chris, parent of one middle-schooler and one high-schooler

Motivate Zoomed-Out Kids

“While Zoom fatigue is real, my oldest always loves classes from one provider. The trouble is, he’s been distance learning for long enough that he’s sometimes reluctant to log on. I use small rewards to motivate him to give it a shot, like ten extra minutes of reading time before bed. Once he’s in, he has a great time.” —Tabetha

“My kids don’t need any extra encouragement once the class starts because the teachers are so fun and engaging, but sometimes they say they don’t want to do Zoom before the classes start. It helps to read aloud the class descriptions or watch any overview videos together.—Maggie

New school supplies feel great and motivating! It’s amazing how even a set of fresh pencils can be so exciting, both for me and my kids. I plan to grab a new box of crayons, some new markers, and a fresh box of pencils.” —Hope

Bring a Friend

“Getting friends to sign up for classes together has been helpful!” —Tajalli, parent of two grade-schoolers

“My daughter has attended classes or camps with friends and then had Facetime playdates afterward. During their after-parties, they’ve talked about the class and even kept working on their creations.” —Maggie

Shine Light on What They Love

“For repeat online classes, I remind my kids what they enjoyed about it the last time around. For example, I’ll remind my son about the awesome tower he created last week, or about the instructor he thought was hilarious. This seems to work well for us.” —Tabetha

“It’s been important to find ways to have routine and structure. Classes that meet multiple times, whether that’s at the same time each day for a week or Tuesdays at 11:00, have been one way to get the consistency we all crave.” —Diana, parent of two grade-schoolers

“I’m going to try to keep the same back-to-school rituals my kids love. We’ll still have our first day of school photo, and we’ll stick to our time-honored tradition of swimming after the first day. Those things, plus a few new additions like an ice cream run or new coloring or chapter books for downtime, can help us feel grounded in the familiar things about starting a new school year, and excited about the ways this year will be different.” —Hope

And Finally…

Have grace for your kids and for yourself. We’re all doing this together, so be kind to yourself when you’re stressed, and remember that your kids are feeling this, too. They will be okay with your love and encouragement, and they (and school) aren’t going to get this right 100% of the time. That’s okay.—Chris

Camp Galileo Anywhere offers engaging online classes for Pre-K – 8th graders with small class sizes, inspiring instructors, and amazing instructors. Single-session and multi-day offerings are enrolling now.