Due to the large number of coronavirus cases still plaguing the U.S., many schools and universities have chosen to keep students home for the fall, opting for distance learning instead. This is certainly going to be an adjustment for students and parents alike, but luckily, there are many things you can do to help your child stay on task, set goals, follow instructions, and get the most out of their remote learning experience.
In this remote learning guide:
- How to succeed in online school: tips & tricks
- Best internet speeds for distance learning
- Best internet plans for remote learning
- Best video conferencing apps for virtual learning
- Best online learning apps
How to succeed in online school: tips & tricks
If you’re nervous about online school, don’t worry—we’ve gathered a list of tips and tricks to help your child succeed in online school. These strategies are easy to implement, and the structure will do wonders for both you and your child.
Create an organization method that works best for you
When everyone is at home attending online school and working, it can be easy to let the house get messy, but a little organization can go a long way. You can do this by creating a system in which everything has its place, from your child’s notebooks and folders to headphones and tablets. You can even create labels so everyone in the family is on the same page. Having an orderly learning environment can help your child to focus on what they need to be doing: learning!
Designate a learning space
Just like you’d prefer to work remotely in a designated office space, your child is going to enjoy online learning more if they have a place that’s devoted to their education. If you don’t have an extra room in the house, you can set up a desk with a laptop or computer in a room with minimal noise where they’ll be able to concentrate. If you have the space, it may be helpful to create a sort of mock classroom with a whiteboard or blackboard as well as some interactive toys.
Post a schedule
It can be disorienting for a child to not know what to expect throughout their online school day. A schedule is a great way to keep your kids focused, organized, and on task. Teachers often do this in their classrooms and then go over the schedule every morning so the students know what to expect. You should post the daily schedule where your child will see it, and if you want to replicate the school setting, it may be a good idea to review the schedule aloud at the start of each day. Structure and routine can help students thrive in an online learning environment.
Communicate effectively with the teachers
Since you won’t have the same face-to-face opportunities to connect with the teacher as you normally would, you’re going to have to put in some extra effort to communicate with your child’s teachers. Communicating with your child’s teacher is an important way to understand class expectations and make sure your child isn’t falling behind in their online learning, so find a communication method that works best for both you and the teacher—phone calls, Zoom calls, emails, text messages, or otherwise. Just make sure you don’t bombard the teacher with unnecessary messages—it’s important to maintain healthy boundaries. But within those healthy boundaries, communication can help eliminate any sort of confusion.
Make sure to get outside
It can be easy to fall into a routine of staying inside, especially during COVID-19 and lockdown, but a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, and more. Getting some outdoor exercise can be as easy as going for a walk, taking your child to the park, or playing catch or frisbee with them. It’s important to find an activity your child truly loves; that way, it will be easier to get them to commit to doing it. An easy way to make sure you and your family are getting outside and exercising is to build it into the daily schedule. That way, everyone knows what to expect and can be held accountable.
Best internet speeds for distance learning
The best internet speeds for distance learning are going to depend upon how many people are going to online school, how many people are working remotely, and what kind of personal activities you use the internet for (streaming, gaming, etc.). Generally speaking, the more people and devices connected to the internet, the faster internet speeds you’ll need. There are plenty of fast cable and DSL internet plans out there, but if you’ve really got a need for speed, you should check if there are fiber internet plans available in your area. Fiber internet can reach speeds up to 2Gbps and has the lowest latency period, which means your video calls, streaming platforms, and online games will have quicker response times.
If your internet speeds are too slow, your child may experience glitches or freezes over Zoom, which may impact their ability to follow along with lesson plans and complete their assignments. Check out our minimum recommended internet speeds for online learning below.
|Number of users
|Minimum internet speed
|Light school + work use (video calls, web browsing, email)
|School + work + personal (video streaming, gaming, etc.)
|Heavy school + work + personal
|Heavy school + work + personal
In order to set your child up for academic success, you’ll want to ensure your internet speeds can accommodate any online activities you throw at it. A quick way to test what internet speeds you’re currently getting is to use our internet speed test. Within seconds, you’ll know your download and upload speeds. You can then use your current speeds to figure out what internet speeds you need to upgrade to. For instance, if you’re only getting about 50Mbps on a 100Mbps plan, it might be time to change to a 150Mbps or 200Mbps plan.
Best internet plans for remote learning
The best internet plans for remote learning have fast enough speeds for the whole family, and depending on your internet use, the ideal plan for you may also include unlimited data. Otherwise, if your internet plan includes a data cap, then you’ll notice slower speeds once your family has used your allotted data for the month. That could negatively affect online school, remote work, and more.
50Mbps internet plans for 2 people
100Mbps internet plans for 2 heavy data users
200Mbps internet plans for 3 or more people
Best video conferencing apps for remote learning
Once you’ve figured out what internet speeds you need for distance learning, you’ll then want to become acquainted with the best video conferencing apps for remote learning. These include:
- Zoom: Zoom is super easy to use and can host up to 100 participants. There’s a great free version, although it limits group video calls to 40 minutes. The most expensive plan is $19.99/month.
- Skype Meet Now: Skype has upped its game since COVID-19 and now offers a new feature, Skype Meet Now, which allows you to start a meeting instantly. Only the host needs to have a Skype account, which makes it much easier to use.
- Google Hangouts: Google Hangouts is Google’s free video conferencing app. You can only use it if everyone has a gmail.com email address. It can accommodate up to 150 participants.
- Cisco Webex: Cisco Webex offers a free version of this video conferencing app that includes HD-quality video, 100-participant max, screen-sharing, and no time limit.
- GoToMeeting: GotoMeeting functions a lot like Zoom in that only the host needs an account and everyone else can just click a link. That said, there is no free version—you can only get a 14-day free trial. Otherwise, it costs between $12/month and $19/month.
Best online learning apps
If you want to supplement your child’s online learning with other remote learning resources, you’re in luck—there are tons of amazing resources out there, many of which are free or cheap. These online learning apps can help build upon the skills your child is learning in school or help them to develop new skills.
Some of the best online learning apps include:
- Skillshare: Skillshare costs $15/month but you can try out a free month to see if your child likes it. It includes thousands of videos about creative subjects, such as design, illustration, and creative writing. Keep in mind, these classes aren’t accredited—anyone can teach a class. It’s great for kids who learn best by watching a video lesson and don’t want the structure of a regular class.
- Khan Academy: Khan Academy offers free classes on a variety of subjects from computer programming to chemistry to math. Your program is self-paced so your child can progress however they feel most comfortable.
- Coursera: Coursera offers free structured online classes, many of which are offered by prestigious universities.
- Lynda: Lynda costs $25/month but you can try it out for free for a month. It includes video lectures about many topics, such as business, web development, software development, and beyond. Unlike Skillshare, these classes are taught by experts.