Parent’s Guide to Virtual Learning

Posted August 27th, 2020 by George Farmer

Parents breathed a sigh of relief when the 2019-2020 school year came to an end. While the 2019-2020 school year saw an unexpected shift to virtual learning caused by COVID-19, the unfortunate truth is the 2020-2021 school year will begin with, at the very least, a hybrid component of virtual learning. 

In 2019 fears of COVID-19 manifested which forced parents to scramble to balance employment along with facilitating the education of their children. As many stakeholders limped to the finish line, it is imperative to ensure now more than ever that parents are equipped with the tools to better serve their children for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. 

The uncertainty of when students will return full time to school leaves educators and caregivers with anxiety and fear. Learning from the mistakes of last school year’s thrust into virtual learning will help reduce the stress associated with virtual learning. The reality is that parents and educators have a sense of what to expect, which should provide a glimmer of hope. 

Blurred Lines: The Balance Between Parenting and Teaching During COVID-19, detailed strategies parents could use to help balance job responsibilities and helping their children during virtual learning. While balance remains a daily battle, the new challenge for parents is how to get their children to retain academic stamina and growth during virtual instruction.

Caregivers and parents will agree on the importance of starting the school year with an intense focus on student achievement. This school year is by far a unique start to a school year that no one would have imagined. As difficult of a task as it may be for the adults, parents and educators must band together to provide the most enjoyable learning experiences for every student. For students, the enjoyable experiences and academic accountability begins with the adults; however, the parents must be comfortable and aware of three factors that contribute to student success. 

Virtual Learning Best Practices

  1. Know the On-Line Platform 

Technology, while an ever-increasing tool, can be intimidating for some. The fear of facilitating a child’s learning on-line can be a daunting task for some caregivers. Get ahead of the learning curve by dialoguing about the on-line platform schools will use. Google Meet, Zoom, and Webex are typically the platforms schools use to increase synchronous interaction with students. The individual work can be done using various other platforms such as Seesaw, Savaas, and Google Classroom, to name a few. Attaining student assignments for the whole week or even two weeks can allow parents the advantage to prepare and plan accordingly for pacing. Admit it; students, especially teenagers, are more familiar with technology than parents. Students will get over and hide assignments from parents regularly if caregivers are unfamiliar with the on-line platforms.  

  1. Maintain Routines

Hybrid schedules add a level of difficulty for parents who do not have additional childcare support. The hybrid component can be an easy slip in the routine for parents and students. The lure to remain in bed longer on virtual instruction days can lead to a slip in routines and incomplete assignments. The best solution is to have students maintain the same routine for five days a week as if they are attending school in-person. A common mishap is waiting until the week of school to begin the routine. Waiting until the week of school is late. Ideally, begin routines at least two weeks before the first day of school. If you are within two weeks before school starts, begin your routines now. It is better to begin routines late than not at all. Regardless of when you begin, maintain consistent routines that are sustainable for every weekday. Whether hybrid or virtual learning, approach each day as if students would attend school in-person.  

  1. Temperament Check

Undoubtedly, remote learning is difficult. The pressures of home life collide with school assignments to make a strenuous atmosphere for parents and children. In the end, the goal of learning is what matters most; however, the method of arriving at the goal is equally as important. There is no victory in completed assignments if the process involves frustrated parents and students in tears. It is essential to recognize and gauge the temperament of yourself and your child. I am a firm believer in the 15 and 5 rule. The 15 and 5 rule is a simple concept for every focused 15 minutes of work; the children receive a 5-minute break. The short bursts of focus have been proven to keep frustration low and focus high. Take necessary breaks as needed to help everyone stay calm and steadfast. 

The uncertainty of COVID-19 does not guarantee schools will open for in-person instruction. The partnership between schools and homes has always been important but is much more magnified with virtual instruction. Students deserve more than another year of parents and teachers merely getting by. In the end, move at a pace that will enable student success and minimalize frustration. 


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas about best practices with virtual learning for families. Families are now charged to take the forefront in their child’s learning, which can be challenging. While being prepared and establishing routines are very important, frequently gauging the temperaments of children as well as families is paramount. Using the strategy “15 and 5 rule” could really ease the frustrations that children and families experience in a virtual learning environment.


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