Five Ways Online Learning Will Be Different for My Teens This Fall

I’m just going to come out and say that last spring when COVID-19 hit, I didn’t do my best work as a parent. Yes, I know it was new and unknown and we all felt like we were running around like chickens with our heads cut off while we were actually going nowhere.

I’m not going to argue that a worldwide pandemic wasn’t a good excuse to let certain things slide. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best excuse in the book to let your guard down and loosen up the controls a little bit.

family with teens
it’s my place to make it the best experience for my kids. (Twenty20 @wcywendy77)

I believe a little slacking can be good for the soul

While I did keep my kids on somewhat of a schedule–decent bedtimes (well, according to me anyway), and made sure they were getting things handed in by the end of the week, I also intentionally let a lot of things slip through the cracks (like not making them attend Zoom meetings and do their daily reading like they were assigned). I reasoned that this was all hard for me to manage because I work full-time and I have three kids. I also assumed that it was all temporary.

I’ve always believed a little slacking is good for the soul, but when the first day of school arrives in September I plan to kick things up a notch. My teenagers are normal in that if I don’t stay on them and I don’t support and help them, they will see just how much they can get away with.

I want to stay on top of things as soon as school starts because we all know how hard it is to be relaxed about something, then try and ramp it up after routines and habits are already set. All three of my kids will be staying at home doing online learning and I want them to get something out of it other than just going through the motions on cruise control mode.

I’ve decided that in order to keep up my kids will need my help. It’s my job as their parent to set some ground rules to make things work for them and their teachers. They need my help.

Steps I’ll be taking to help my kids learn

Keep the strict bedtimes

My kiddos need sleep in order to engage with people without biting their head off, and in order to concentrate. I will make sure they go to bed at a decent hour just like I would if their alarm was going to blare at 5:45am like it did in the old days.

Attend Meetings

They will attend all the Zoom meetings.They wanted no part of this last year. Many of the meetings were optional so I allowed it. And again, I figured this was all temporary and it wouldn’t hurt anyone if they opted out and still completed the work. Now that school has been out for so long and they’ve lost touch with that kind of communication and interaction the classroom can bring, they will log in and see their classmates and teachers.

They may hate me for this but they will get over it. The teachers and staff are all working hard to be more proactive and deal with this new normal better, and online learning means they will get taught online. I mean, if they used to sit with their peers and teachers for over six hours a day, five days a week, they can handle a few Zoom meetings.

They will be on a schedule

We definitely need to tighten things up around here. There were weeks during which my son only did school work on Thursday and Friday to get it handed in at the last minute. My oldest likes to do his work late at night which didn’t go over well because I was out of steam by then and could not effectively help him.

We will get up at a reasonable time and they will get all of their school work done during the day. They will get breaks, but it won’t be the freestyle days we had last spring because that turned into scrambling toward the end of the year for two of my kids to get all their assignments done. It wasn’t fun– not for them, not for me, and definitely not for the teachers.

No devices until school work is done for the day

Breaks will not include logging into SnapChat or chatting it up with their friends. They aren’t allowed to do that kind of stuff in school because it causes too many distractions. I also know there will be no motivator to get their work done like making them wait until it’s all done.

I am going to participate more

We will have educational family game nights. We will go on hikes and explore nature. I will make them do daily reading and writing. I will do what I can as far as getting more involved in their education without driving myself to the brink of destruction. They may return to school after the first quarter if cases stay low, but they might not.

I need a solid plan before they go back

I want a solid plan in place from the start to fall back on because it’s too hard to start off slow thinking they will definitely be returning to high school after Thanksgiving, only to have them home even longer.

No, it’s not the best case scenario and, believe me, I’m dreading it, but I feel like this will be better for me and my family.

We know how online learning works because we already have a few months under our belt, and it’s my place to make it the best experience for my kids. I’m sure they’ll think I did a better job last year when we were flying by the seat of their pants, but I also know that one day they will thank me.

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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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