I am a senior in high school. I have never experienced the emotions, confusion, or utter shock that the last month has brought for me. I expected a senior week, a Disneyland trip with my best friend and classmates, a prom, and a walk down a stage accompanied by applause and a diploma. Instead, I just got off of my week-long “spring break” in which I sat on my bed playing Animal Crossing New Horizons, watching the rain pour outside. 

Trust me, your senior is feeling the same way as me. Or your junior. Or your fifth grader. Nobody I know, or can think of, has ever experienced the events going down today. But, especially as a senior, this quarantine and online schooling has been very hard.

However, I have learned through failure (and anger) a few ways to make this completely new and unexplored online learning a bit easier to endure.

1. Have your kids email their teachers, or reach out to them yourselves.

They are going through the same treacherous path that your kid is. This is new and scary, and I bet that no teacher began this year expecting their last quarter to be taught through Zoom or Google Classroom. I personally have emailed or spoken through Google Classroom with all of my teachers, not only to touch base with confusing topics but also to maintain being human. It is very easy to lose touch with teachers who you’ve known for a year because they are hiding behind a screen, so it can definitely help both student and teacher to email with kind regards. This can help learning online become more personalized and understandable, as it did for me.

2. Have your kid make a learning space.

Don’t have them watch their AP Literature live stream downstairs on the kitchen table while you are making breakfast or lunch. By establishing a location where your kid can feel comfortable and take in their education for the day, it provides a way to escape from the house for an hour or two and feel that they are at school. For me, I watch my teachers in my room. I am in my room all day, but I sit at my desk where I can have my computer in front of me while I take notes. This way, I am comfortable and surrounded my quiet while I learn. 

3. Give them space.

If I was a parent, I would probably be checking on my child day in and day out about assignments and quizzes. As much as it is necessary for your kid to have good grades and be successful, this is a completely new territory. Even the smartest students I know are struggling through their classes. This is a new grading system for a lot of schools, a new way of learning, and it can be really upsetting having started the physical school year early. Give your child time to focus in and understand the rhythm of this “new” school year. Give them distance and understand that for some like me, this is the last that we have of our high school year before it is over forever. Check-in on your kid, make sure they aren’t completely failing or sleeping through their classes, but try not to overreact to a couple of bad grades or a change in attitude. 

Remember, this is new for EVERYONE.