This back-to-school season is a unique one. Many people have found themselves managing virtual school and virtual work. Others are balancing hybrid models. Whatever your situation, it probably looks a lot different from last year’s fall start.

Preteen boy sitting on the floor working on an online school lesson on a laptop from homeDrastic changes to a routine are never easy, and the team at WriterGirl is facing some new challenges, too. Even though we may be remote work pros, we’re still learning, adjusting and growing during this pandemic.

With that in mind, we wanted to share some of our back to school tips for 2020. From preschoolers to college-age kids, in-person classes to hybrid half-days. See how we’re faring in this unusual time.

Create a separate ‘school’ space

Karrie recommends designing a space that puts all the resources your child needs within reach. This strategy can be especially important for young students who can easily lose focus.

Older students and college-age kids that are studying from home should also have a designated space to work. Not only can this keep them organized and focused, but it can also help them feel more independent at a time when they may be frustrated about being stuck at home.

Agree on a daily schedule

If your child knows there are built-in breaks — like a scheduled lunchtime — they’re more likely to stay on task (and less likely to interrupt you). Plus, you can plan your day accordingly around these breaks.

Let your student know their focus and hard work is appreciated

It’s easy to dwell on how stressful the “new COVID-19 normal” is on us as we try to work from home. But we need to be intentional about hitting “pause” and reminding ourselves how things feel from our kids’ perspectives.

“Find opportunities to acknowledge their feelings and reward them for taking positive and helpful actions — it can go a long way,” Karrie says.

Stick to the regular morning routine

For Kirsten’s two teenage boys in high school, her best approach to back to school learning (at home) is simply having the kids set their alarm, get up, take a shower, have some breakfast and start their day. Regardless of their schedule that day, she encourages them to start at the same time and keep a routine. Not that it always works!

Give them some independence

If you have an elementary school student doing remote learning, a $5 digital timer may be your new best friend.

“After being in charge of my then-second-grader’s schedule last spring (and nearly losing my mind), I was determined to help her be more independent for third grade,” says Wilson. “She’s made it on time to all of her Zoom calls so far — which is more than I can say for myself!”

We want our children to succeed, but always hovering also won’t let them learn independently. This also applies to the older kids, who have been going to school by themselves for years.

“We reminded ourselves that our son is normally at college, and it’s not our job to nag him about his work,” says Colleen. “He’s capable and old enough to time manage, and we want to instill the importance of his independence.”

Check your tech

With both kids and parents working from home, checking on your Wi-Fi condition could help with some headaches. If there is not much you can do about your bandwidth, try coordinating working times with your family members. For example, if you have a 3 p.m. meeting, ask if the others could hop off for thirty minutes or so.

Be mindful of their health

Most parents are already in tune with their child’s health, but it’s especially important to be mindful during a pandemic. Promote a healthy immune system by making sure they’re eating a balanced diet filled with plenty of nutrients.

College-age kids should also pay more attention to their health.

“I encourage my kids to eat healthy (meat and veggies, low or no grains or sugar), get out and move every day, soak up some sunshine every day, be grateful always, sleep well, breathe the fresh air and take your vitamins,” Jeanelle says.

Besides healthy eating, it is also essential to make sure your child knows how to follow healthy practices — especially if they’re going back to in-person classes. Try practicing with them how to follow good hygiene, keep a safe distance and wear a mask. This will help them feel more comfortable with it once they’re at school.

Remember that teachers are adjusting, too

Don’t be afraid to reach out to teachers to see if there’s a way you can help make remote or hybrid learning easier. They’re doing all of the same work and preparation as usual, just in a new and different format. Having patience and lending a hand can make the transition smoother for everyone. We’re all in this together, after all.

“I don’t really have any back to school tips since my nest is empty — other than praying for and listening to my husband who is teaching a ‘hybrid’ college speech class and my daughter who is teaching her fourth and fifth graders remotely for now,” says Karla. “My daughter says, ‘don’t call it homeschooling’ — there’s still a teacher planning and directing the students, after all.”

Stay connected but focus on what’s in front of you

Try to limit how much you read on social media about the trials and tribulations other families are facing this school year. Save your emotional energy for your kids and helping them navigate the challenges ahead.

We know it’s only natural to want to be informed and care for others, but it’s important to channel your strength back to what is right in front of you.

Don’t try to be perfect

In the words of Mary, “Ha…what if we aren’t managing…”

This is a new time. Everyone doesn’t know exactly what they’re doing or how to handle it, and that’s okay.

“Take a deep breath, review, dig in, pace yourself, ask questions, be courteous, keep your patience,” says Rebecca. “We are all learning.”

We’re here to lend a hand if you need it. If you’re feeling swamped and could use an extra writer or editor, we’re ready to tackle any content needs you may have. Reach out any time to learn more.