Back to School: How to keep kids learning in fun new ways.

There’s no question that 2020 has seen us all adapting to new ways of doing things. The pandemic has changed how we work, how we play, and with back to school drawing near, it will also change how our kids are going to be learning this year.

You likely have already heard from your school or school board about what to expect for the new school year.  (If you haven’t, here is a handy province-by- province list that you can check.)

Whether your child will be impacted by new class-sizes to promote physical distancing, alternating days in-class and online lessons, or will be schooled from home, you’ll likely need to step up your game to keep learning ongoing and fun. Like everything else, it’s easy when you start with a good plan.

Those daily routines just got way more important.

Establish regular mealtimes, healthy eating and good sleeping habits. Set a time frame for kids to do schoolwork, while remembering to allow for “mental breaks”. Check in on school work before dinner time, to allow for your help at night if needed.

You don’t need a classroom to learn.

Baking and dancing can be learning. So can virtual or in-person trips to the library, museum or zoo. Think creatively and spend time together!

Press “pause” on non-productive screen time.

Pick a time frame for the TV to power down and video games and social media to go quiet; technology should only be for learning during that time. This may be more easily accepted if you include short “mental health” breaks at the top of each hour.

Try to boost those extra-curricular activities.

Keep kids engaged in activities they love. Many sports teams and leagues have adjusted their protocols, so they may still be moving forward, albeit differently. School clubs, art and dance may have moved online using platforms like Zoom, Skype or Google Meet.

Make an effort to stay involved with the school.

Attend parent-teacher conferences, school events and special webinars or podcasts. If you have a teen, maintain contact with the guidance counsellor to ensure everything is on track when college or university application time rolls around.

Head online for ideas to keep kids learning.

There are loads of online resources to keep bright minds stimulated and expanding. Start by figuring out what interests your child and then start googling. Many websites are organized by grade, so you can pick age-appropriate learning. Here are a few of our favourites.

For the younger set

CBC Kids is chock full of fun videos, games and activities to make science, spelling and strategy engaging for youngsters.

Earth Rangers has activities to teach kids about animals, the environment, and how to make a difference in the planet.

For trailblazers in the making

From the creators of TED Talks comes TED-Ed: video-based animations and talks on a huge variety of arts, science, math and social studies topics that are so intriguing, kids won’t realize they’re learning.

On Vsauce1, internet celebrity Michael Stevens posts intriguing videos on scientific, psychology, math, philosophy, gaming, pop culture videos and more, geared towards teens.

For culture hounds has 2000 museums you can visit virtually, ways to create art on your phone using augmented reality, a program that converts your selfies into artwork and loads of other activities to get kids thinking creatively.

Chrome Music Lab is an interactive program that explores music, live instruments and dance while linking to science, math and art.

For active kids

Whatmomslove  has great ideas to keep kids active, including how to build games at home and getting the family active to keep everyone on track.

For inquisitive minds

Solve Me Puzzles uses interactive puzzles to teach numbers and algebraic reasoning, while Mad Science provides engaging workshops on chemistry, space, weather, special effects in movies and even insects.

Developing your child’s skills today will help show where their passions lie. That in turn, may lead to possible career options and post-secondary programs to help successfully launch that career. In the same way you’re supporting your child’s development today, you’ll also need to support their dreams in the future.  If you’ve already opened a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for your child, well done! You’re on the right path to saving towards their post-secondary costs and a future filled with possibilities.

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