Balancing responsibilities is important in any setting, but it’s critical for effective online learning. If your student puts too much emphasis on school, they can easily get burned out. Too much focus on non-school life can cause them to miss out on crucial development.
Striking a healthy balance between school and life is a must.
In this article, we examine obstacles to overcome to create a healthy online learning experience and lay out tips for maintaining the right school-life balance.
What Challenges Pop Up in the Online Learning Experience?
Whether you’ve decided to move to online learning for its many benefits or you’ve been thrown into unintended homeschooling situations, the transition to online learning comes with adjustments. Unfortunately, it can be stressful determining where to draw the lines between school and life. In fact, Science Daily recently found 71 percent of parents are stressed about having to manage distance learning for their children.
Worse yet, many online programs are making it harder to strike a healthy balance between school and life. As droves of schools rush into online learning, underprepared, many have forgotten to include critical socialization programs and extracurricular activities.
All of this adds up to a growing need for a balanced online learning experience.
Luckily, by following a few tips, you can develop a healthy school-life balance so both you and your student can breathe easier. Taking a few minutes now to find balance in online learning will help you feel secure as you move forward and will put your student on track to swifter development and a happier learning experience.
Tips for Maintaining a Positive School-Life Balance for Parents
Embrace Flexible Schedules
A major advantage of online learning is the flexible scheduling that comes along with it. For instance, student athletes and performing artists can learn as they travel to or from events. They can also plan their school day around training and practices. A simple way to encourage a balanced online learning schedule is to embrace online flexibility.
Remember, you don’t need to stick to the strict 7- to 8-hour learning blocks that you may be used to with traditional school. Instead, plan for a schedule that mixes in breaks, extracurricular activities, and online schooling.
Monitor Screen Time
When students immerse themselves in online learning, they spend plenty of time learning and pursuing their interests online. That’s why it’s a good idea to limit screen time outside of learning hours. Set aside time to get out of the house, and remember to work in breaks throughout the day.
When most people think of switching to online learning, they tend to worry about being on their own as they try to understand the new technology driving digital classrooms. It’s easy to overlook the people who are sharing your experience. In order to strike a good school-life balance for your student, be sure to tap into the digital learning community. This will help both you and your child build a support network you can lean on.
Set Clear Expectations and Schedule Check-Ins
As students grow, they’ll get better and better at managing their own time effectively. However, you can encourage better time management skills throughout their journey by setting aside time to cover expectations. At the same time, scheduling check-ins will help unearth any concerns about an unbalanced day.
Encourage Extracurriculars or Play Time
In addition to relieving stress, extracurricular activities can improve a student’s overall development. One recent study found that students who are active in extracurriculars experience higher grades, elevated test scores, and more self-confidence.
By encouraging your student to pursue their interests, you’ll be naturally developing a more rounded online learning experience.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Regardless of where your student is on their online learning journey, it’s helpful for them to know they can talk about their concerns. One way to encourage communication is to schedule time for daily or weekly meetings or family discussions. At the same time, your child’s online school should encourage one-to-one attention and provide a supportive learning environment.
Pick Online Programs That Feature Growth Outside the Classroom
The best online programs will feature built-in ways to strike a healthy balance between school and life. That might include online learning extension tiles, field trips, clubs, or any number of socialization programs.
Tips for Maintaining a Positive School-Life Balance for Students
For students, it’s easy to feel the pressure to invest all of your time in academics. Sure, academics are important, but successful online learning will go much deeper. By pursuing subjects that interest you, you’ll enjoy coursework more and find a better balance between school and life.
Take Time to Check In with Yourself
As a student, block off time to pause, reflect, and jot down thoughts about your online learning experience. This simple practice will help you track your goals and identify areas where you need to find more of a balance.
Budget Time for Stress Relief
Stress is a growing problem for children and young adults. One study recently found that stress among teens and young adults has been climbing throughout the last decade. The same study found a significant jump in serious psychological distress, as well as depression.
Scheduling a few minutes every day to relax will help you avoid burnout and negative consequences of stress. These little moments are also an excellent time to reflect and determine what’s working and what isn’t.
Signs That School-Life Balance Is Uneven
When you’re busy juggling responsibilities and adjusting to new routines, it can be hard to see unhealthy imbalances. However, there are some red flags that indicate a student’s school-life balance is uneven. Here’s what to look out for:
- High stress: If students feel overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed out, it’s worth re-examining their daily routines.
- Unhealthy eating habits: A major advantage of online learning is that it opens up opportunities for healthier and less rushed eating routines. However, it still takes planning to establish healthy eating routines. If a student’s schedule is creating unhealthy eating habits, it’s worth taking a few minutes to plan for better meal methods.
- Missed sleep: If students are displaying the telltale signs of missed sleep, it could be because their school-life balance is off. Remember, sleep should be a priority. When establishing an online learning schedule, it’s a good idea to block off set hours for sleep or naps and build out other priorities around those fixed times.
- Dwindling relationships: Remember, socialization is an important part of student development. If relationships are dropping off or are being nudged out altogether by a growing pile of responsibilities, it may be time to re-evaluate your student’s schedule.
How to Correct for a Better School-Life Balance
Worried school-life balance is teetering in an unhealthy direction? Here are a few steps to help correct for a healthier course.
- Assess priorities: Is your student’s schedule in line with long-term goals? If not, identify the most important tasks and try to cut out less necessary events.
- List needs and responsibilities: The best way to budget time is to pick out absolute needs and important responsibilities. From there, shave down those activities that aren’t crucial. This will make it easier to see where there’s wiggle room to help balance out your student’s day.
- Create a plan as a family: It’s important that students don’t feel like they’re left on their own to tackle big challenges. Carve out time to address scheduling struggles and create a plan as a team.
- Try to avoid perfectionism: If expectations are too high, students might feel stuck on a subject or afraid to make mistakes. Instead, it’s better to embrace errors and take time to learn from them.
- Encourage communication: If your student is struggling with your daily routine, they shouldn’t have to feel they need to hold it in. Encourage them to communicate with parents, instructors, and school leaders. These figures can provide much-needed support, and sometimes talking about an issue is enough for them to conjure up solutions on their own.
Learn More About Online Learning
At Method Schools, we understand the challenges that come with the move to online learning. We’re here to help your student succeed.
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About the Author
Mark is the co-founder of Method Schools and SmartFox and has been working in the marketing and finance areas of K-12 education for two decades. He holds a B.S. in Business from Utah Valley University and an MBA from Brigham Young University. In his spare time he’s usually on his mountain bike.