Alternative Learning Tips

  • Learning Space

    Creating a designated space for alternative learning at home could help your child focus on learning. The home learning space will look different for each family and even within the family, the learning space may be different for each child as children all have different, unique ways of learning. Most importantly, there is no right or wrong way, simply do what’s best for your family. No matter the location, engage your child periodically to ensure learning is occurring and to check if help is needed.

    Limit Distractions

    Ohhhh…. A squirrel! While there may not be the distraction of friends at home, there are many other distractions siblings, TV, cell phones. It’s important during “school time” to limit distractions. Turn off the TV and plug phones in. With that said, it’s also important to give kids breaks. Let younger kids have recess to play and older kids have breaks to text friends. 


    This situation is very strange and chaotic and that’s why considering establishing a Monday-Friday schedule for your children may be important. Having a predictable schedule helps children (yes, even teenagers) feel safe. How you set up your family’s routine and learning is unique to you. Consider using a visual schedule, so students can see how their time is structured. Have a family meeting to create an agreed-upon schedule with your children. If they help create it, the more likely they are to follow it. Also, as your family navigates through this new alternative learning method, adjust your schedule as needed.

    Help, Not Do

    Children may struggle with assignments. Productive struggle is a good thing. It teaches perseverance, grit, and problem-solving. While parents need to be available for questions, let your students do as much as possible on their own. While helping, pose questions to help get them “unstuck.” This is an opportunity to empower students and encourage them to take control of their learning. 

    Brain Breaks

    Kids need brain breaks (and so do parents)! Consider going outside for 30 minutes, doing a craft, or eating a banana. During a normal school day, children have breaks to change classes or subjects and talk to their friends. Schedule downtime into your routine. If you are working 1:1 with your child, consider switching it up slightly every seven to ten minutes.  

    Go Old School

    We realize that assignments are given virtually. However, that doesn’t mean that kids can’t get out an old fashioned piece of paper and pencil once in a while and hand write some assignments. 


    To help your student’s thinking, encourage movement between assignments or during their learning time. Movement increases blood flow which means more oxygen and norepinephrine resulting in better thinking and mood regulation. Having the wiggles or ants-in-your-pants are signs that possibly you need to have a stretch break before diving back into the learning. 


    We are all spending more time at home. We’ve experienced significant changes in our routines, schedules and social interactions. The emotional effects of isolation can really impact children as they are less likely than adults at this time to have opportunities to interact, even virtually, with peers. Social/emotional needs can be taken care of in a variety of ways: Journaling, drawing, creating things, keeping a sleep/wake routine, taking walks, riding bikes/scooters, fresh air and sunshine. Perhaps the most important thing we can do for our younger children is to allow them to play – and even play with them! Pretend play is how children work through many of their emotions and it provides parents an opportunity to connect with their children as well. So get out those toys and have fun together!