Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

remote learning

Pro tip: Create a learning space that's comfortable but not too comfortable.

Remote learning: survival tips for parents

Tips for making the most of this experience while not tearing our hair out.

Deep breaths, everyone. It’s about to begin: another (we hope partial) year of remote learning.

We’re parents, too, and we’re more than a little stressed about this.

There’s a lot of great advice and useful resources on remote learning out there. Here are some of the best tips we’ve found:

Begin and end the day by checking in. This might seem obvious, but how often does it get overlooked during remote learning? These brief conversations can help keep everyone on track and allow you to address small challenges before they become big problems. This advice comes from ACS International Schools, which also has this great tip: “Build in some time for peace and quiet.”

Create a remote learning space that’s comfortable, but not too comfortable. Just one of many solid tips from Khan Academy, but this one hit home: Last spring, my daughter assembled a lovely, cozy “nest” for herself in a corner of my home office. It featured multiple pillows and a heated blanket. The cat would come by cuddle. It was irresistible. I’m sure, in retrospect, that it was also terribly inefficient. We won’t make that mistake again.

“Be a good friend to yourself. … Get help when you need it. … Use movement and humor.” Those are just a few nuggets from a great list by the folks at Commonsense Media. They also cover establishing expectations, setting a schedule, what to do about downtime and the pitfalls of offering screentime as a reward for a job well done.

Maintain social opportunities for your kids during remote learning. This is a tough one, with coronavirus health precautions. Older kids should be able to handle a socially distanced visit with a friend, and lots of kids seem to adapt well to “virtual” visits with friends and family, whether using video-call technology or a platform like Zoom. On the other hand, it’s important to monitor your kids’ social-media use to ensure that it doesn’t become excessive or that they don’t wander into potentially bad situations. (This came from the Menlo Park City School District in California but obviously applies everywhere.)

Be prepared to supplement what your kids are doing in remote learning. This could be by encouraging independent reading, providing craft or science supplies, playing games as a family and more. My family adopted kind of a “throwback” activity that we ended up loving: state reports. We assigned U.S. states (at random or by choice) and gave little presentations to the family, usually around dinnertime. We checked them off on a map as we went. Bonus points for creativity. The possibilities are endless: you could prepare a food or dress up as a famous resident — historic or current — from your state. (I played John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” to introduce my West Virginia presentation.)

More on remote learning in Seattle’s Child:

Kindergarten readiness, 2020 style

Don’t neglect social/emotional learning (SEL); resource list

Struggling with your kids’ online learning? Take a deep breath, and read this

Some parents find home-schooling works well for their family


About the Author

Julie Hanson

Julie Hanson is a longtime journalist, South King County resident and mom to a 15-year-old girl.