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As the spread of COVID-19 has decreased, much of our global society has been introduced to a “new normal”. Wearing masks in public places, working remotely, continuing social distancing, and for students, virtual and online learning. Depending on the location, some of these factors can vary. However, it’s safe to say that most of us have been impacted by at least one of those above. Education, specifically, has seen one of the most significant impacts. Though some locations have allowed students to return to school physically, and others are taking a hybrid approach, a high percentage of student populations are actively adopting virtual and online learning until further notice. And while educators and families alike are working hard to keep students safe and engaged in their studies, learning in a non-classroom setting can have its difficulties and setbacks. Here are a few tips to encourage learning outside of the classroom

Stick to a Routine 

With families spending much more time at home, regular activities like waking up and getting ready for school can often fall by the wayside. One of the best ways to keep students engaged in their studies, even when they’re learning at home, is sticking to the regular routine; a set wake-up time, a well-balanced breakfast, designated learning and lunch/break times, and so-on. Keeping a similar pattern at home as a student would have in school is the first step in a successful transition to home learning. 

Nurture Creativity 

While structure and routines are important, so is encouraging creativity. There are so many ways to develop creativity outside of a classroom. Consider starting an at-home book club, and let the student incorporate books of their choice, or try a new art or sensory project each day. You can also foster the development of a dedicated home workspace to help the student learn in a comfortable environment. In an article from Parents.com, Julia McFadden says, “Try and create a comfy reading nook, as well as a place for kids to sprawl out for things like crafts and other school projects (that can be done using a dining table or a folding table). The goal is to create the most ideal environment you can for boosting focus, minimizing stress, and inspiring and nurturing learning.” These are great ways to keep students engaged and interested in different learning activities at home. 

Take it Outside 

For most students, recess or time outdoors is a regular activity while they’re in school, so keeping it going during virtual or hybrid learning is essential. So much can be learned from spending time outside, and it’s a great way to incorporate necessary physical activity and limit time spent cooped up indoors. Conduct a math lesson outdoors using outside items for counting, or encourage your student to draw or complete an art project in the backyard. A nature walk is another great way to foster learning, as well.  

Use Your Tech Resources

When used correctly, technology is an excellent tool for learning and development. Consider downloading educational podcasts or learning games designed for your student’s grade level, or YouTube different TED Talks that are relevant to the student, and have them complete an assignment on it after. Since today’s students are heavily exposed to technology, they’re likely to stay engaged with what they’re learning if it’s on a familiar device. While of course, you don’t want to result in mindless use of tech devices, there are tons of apps, downloads, and videos that serve as fantastic tools for educational purposes.