There are a lot of parents these days who are concerned that their children spend too much time in front of a screen. Since so much of our world is tech-based, it can be difficult to actually log off and walk away from the computers (or smartphones). That’s a fine line to walk—especially with kids enrolled in online charter schools.
Finding the balance between an online education and the offline world can be challenging. Here are some tips for plugging non-virtual time into your student’s day, even when they’re relying on computers and the Internet for their schooling.
Set a Schedule Each Week
Online education often helps students fine-tune their time management skills. They—for the most part—get to control how and when they study, which includes both online and offline time. Work with your student to create a schedule each week that’s tailored to their upcoming coursework and assignments, as well as extracurricular activities. Setting specific times to work can help your child limit their time in front of the screen.
Make Time for Activities
Students who choose online learning because it gives them more time for sports, performing arts, or other passions will likely have time set aside every day for these activities that pull them away from the computer. No matter what responsibilities your child has outside of school work, make sure offline activities are a part of their weekly schedule. Actually penciling in play dates, recreational activities, practices, or lessons and blocking out that time means they’ll know when it’s time to turn off all their screens. It’s also important to include field trips in your child’s schedule. Field trips to the zoo, aquarium, and science, history, and art museums can enhance what your child is learning, and bring it to life outside of a screen. Some online schools plan meet-up days for students, which could be another beneficial real-world activity; these are great opportunities for your child to socialize with their peers.
Implement the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a system that helps students—or really, anyone—make the most of their time. With this method, your student would set a 25-minute timer for work and study. Once the 25 minutes is up, they set another timer for a five-minute break. During this time, they can go outside, play with their dog, stretch, grab some food, or whatever they want. When that timer goes off, it’s another 25-minute block for work, and so on. After four to five of these “pomodoros,” your child can take a longer break, then jump into it all over again until their assignments for the day are complete.
This time management method sets aside regular breaks for your child to jump away from the computer, but also ensures they’re being productive throughout the day.
Try the 20/20/20 Rule
If the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t resonate with your child, you can try the 20/20/20 Rule. This technique is designed to give their eyes a break from staring at computer, tablet, and phone screens for long periods of time, which can strain their eyes. Every 20 minutes, have them look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Limit Online Distractions
One of the most common traps online students fall into is the “rabbit hole” of the Internet. They open up a new tab to look something up for an assignment, then that turns into another new tab to check their social media or to watch a video or take a quiz, and then the next thing they know, it’s been 50 minutes with nothing to show. The digital world is a double-edge sword. Yes, it can lead to hours of distraction, but it also offers ways out of that time suck. “Distraction blocking” apps can keep your student on track when they should be studying. These come in many different forms—some more strict than others—but have the ultimate goal of cutting down distractions. If your child can stay focused, they’ll be able to finish their work sooner and log off for the day.
What are some ways you’ve been able to introduce more offline time to your online student’s day? Share in the comments below!
Author Bio: Christine Feher received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, Masters in Counseling, and Pupil Personnel Services Credential from Chapman University. She has worked in public schools for over 10 years. After working as a Guidance Counselor, she earned her Administrative Credential and has been the Principal of CalPac Online for 3 years.