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5 Tips for a Successful Transition to {Virtual} Back-to-School

5 Tips for a Successful Transition to {Virtual} Back-to-School

As students prepare to go back to school this fall many, if not most, will be continuing their education online either full time or in a hybrid situation. That’s why our team has compiled some tips for transitioning back to the virtual classroom. 


1. Find a Rhythm and a Routine  

Students need to find their own rhythm that works for them. They tend to learn better in shorts bursts of online activity, with breaks and extra time to complete offline tasks.  
Time management is essential. Help them learn how to better manage their time especially if their daily curriculum schedule is less structured. And, since students will be in front of a screen for longer periods, encourage them to take breaks and relax or have fun for at least 10-15 minutes throughout the day.  


2. Set Goals   

Students should maintain structure in their day by creating a routine that works for them, setting daily goals, and tracking their deadlines through reminders on their phone or calendar.   

Encourage them to be ready 5–10 minutes before class time and to have what they need nearby, including their laptop (fully charged and connected to WiFi); headphones and a camera (if their laptop doesn’t have one); paper and pen; and a water bottle. A healthy snack is also encouraged if the class time is more than an hour or the student has classes back-to-back.  


3. Minimize Distractions   

Students (and adults) can be easily distracted, so make sure they have a dedicated work space. Encourage students to close browser tabs or applications that are not related to their learning. Also, suggest turning off phone notifications. Students should consider downloading a screen reduction application, such as Breakfree or Freedom, that limits social media time. Finally, have students let their family members know their schedule, including offline time, to help them to stay focused and avoid interruptions. 


4. Encourage Open Communication and Be Their Coach  

Now more than ever, students need patience and understanding as they adjust to this new learning style. If your students seem to be lacking motivation to do their offline work, the best thing you can do as a parent or advisor is to listen to their frustrations.  

Students are in a pivotal part of their development and are having to shift how they are “showing up” in the world. Maybe they play sports and are unable to this year. Maybe they had a fun summer trip planned that has been cancelled. Or, maybe they love to learn and are thriving in this online setting.  

Whatever the case may be, students are being expected to adapt to a new normal. It is important to empathize with them and act as their coach as you collaboratively explore creative ways to enhance their learning journey.   

Coaches embody a cheerleading quality as well as the ability to constructively guide students to take new risks in their learning. The goal for students is to become more self-reliant and take ownership of their own learning, but sometimes they need a helping hand along the way. 


5. Practice Good Daily Habits

Getting enough sleep is essential for optimum learning. It increases maximum alertness, memory recall, and academic performance. If students are having trouble falling asleep, suggest they use a meditation app, such as Headspace or Calm, to help them relax and fall asleep. Also, students should avoid blue light on their devices right before bed. 

Eating a healthy diet is also essential to students’ ability to have energy to function at maximum capacity, learn new tasks, process and retain information, and improve their overall mood. Make sure breakfast is a priority and that they are snacking throughout the day to keep their brain focused! 


As your student prepares for online learning, encourage them to be proactive, communicate, and take initiative. Whether they are speaking up in class to ask a question or presenting a different perspective in a classroom discussion, taking these steps show they are an active listener, learner, and community member. This transition from being “led in their learning” to “driving their own learning” will be paramount to their success.   


Thanks to our Summer Discovery Online program development team, led by Esteban Olivares, in conjunction with Aquarian Knowledge, for putting together these tips to help support student learning

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