Survival tips for parents with kids studying at home


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Today was the first day of home schooling for millions of American families. We should all feel incredibly lucky that we live in a time where that’s even possible. Imagine a world, not long ago, where sending students home for two months would have meant complete disconnection from school. Still, the challenges of online learning are myriad, and wide-ranging — from the mundane, such as Internet slowdowns, to the complex, such as which kids might do better in digital classrooms than traditional classrooms.

Parents trying to adjust to this new reality — many which also trying to telework — might struggle at first. So for advice I turned to Margaret Sullivan, the Information Media Specialist

and EdTech specialist at St. Joseph Regional High School in Northern New Jersey. She been working with online learning projects for years, and helped scramble to set up that school’s e-learning program in the past few days. (She’s also my sister, and I’m very proud of her). I asked her to share five tips that would make life easier for parents and students as they hunker down and study at home. These are very top-level suggestions. I’m happy to get more granular if that’s helpful. Leave your tips in the comments below or email me. Margaret says:

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1. Have a schedule

Keep to a schedule on school days, even if classes aren’t meeting at real-time, follow the school schedule. Get up, have breakfast, and get to work. It’ll feel more like a school day, help keep students focused and in the rhythm of school plus prevent procrastination.

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2. Designate a work area

Set up a work area for each student with few distractions, nice flat surface for computers (even laptops work better on tables and desks than laps). and all the school supplies they need for online class time.

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3. Keep communication open

Allow students to correspond with teachers when they have a question or are confused. All schools will have a plan for corresponding don’t step in too soon.

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4. Stay positive

There are bound to be computer glitches, tech troubles, and other issues; be positive and don’t let your children hear negative comments.

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5. Enforce the rules

Moderate your child; if they are supposed to be online form 8:30-12 make sure they are. If they are taking a test don’t allow them to use their phone to Google answers. If they need something ask them first what did the teacher say to do before stepping in and doing it for them.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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Bob Sullivan

Bob Sullivan is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists Public Service Award, a Peabody award, and the Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness Consumer Media Service Award. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a degrees in history and mathematics from Fairfield University.