After a spring and summer of social distancing, your family may be looking for strategies to stay connected with others and establish a “new normal” routine. As we enter the new school year, things look different. Creating consistency and engaging with other students and families can seem challenging. Here are a few tips to help you prepare as a family, and get ahead of the virtual school year!

UNICEF recommends 5 ways to keep students engaged while learning from home:

1. Plan a routine together

Setting a schedule for your family that includes learning and work time, as well as time for exercise, play, and time away from the screen is important! Check out Fit4Kids resources for kids and families, for some ways to stay active and have fun!

2. Have open conversations

Paying attention and listening to one another’s feelings will help establish an open line of communication and let your child know they are in a safe environment.

3. Take your time

It’s OK to adjust your schedule to make time for one another. If they have just finished a particularly long learning session (or you have finished a never-ending Zoom meeting), take a breather and go on a family bike ride or walk, or play a quick game together!

4. Protect children online

Talk to your children about staying safe online. While they are using the computer to learn and socialize, be sure to discuss what appropriate behavior online looks like, and set some ground rules that will keep everyone safe.

5. Stay in touch with your children’s education facility

Ask for the best way to stay connected with your child’s teachers, and join or start a parent group to support one another during virtual learning. Try to attend virtual events if your schedule allows, but remember to give yourself grace if you can’t make every meeting or event work!

Big Life Journal has also created a free “Back-to-School Care Package” to meet all your household needs for making the most out of learning (and working) from home. The package includes tips on creating a daily check list, setting up a special work space, establishing safe social distancing measures with your children, beginning penpal friendships to stay connected with others, and creating your own pep talk for those not-so-easy days at home.

Finally, remember that non-school activities are important! Here are a few fun things to try as a family outside of the “classroom.” 

Take a virtual visit to a museum, zoo, or park! 

Listen to a podcast (for ages 2-6)

Have a family dance party!

and many more activity ideas from the Children’s Hospital of Orange County)

Also, don’t forget to visit the Fit4Kids website to learn how you can get involved in garden club or volunteer to help with garden clean up!

Get ready to rock this new school year!