How To “Do School” When Nothing is Normal

I taught for 22 years and in that time, I never saw anything like what we are dealing with in 2020. Fortunately, I continue to work with teenagers, so I’ve been part of the conversation as to the best – defined as safest and most effective – approach to teaching in the time of Covid

The first challenge is getting a quality education. Yes, teachers are working hard to make sure your kids get the content. But no, it won’t be the same as face-to-face instruction, working collaboratively, and the all-important hands-on learning. Studies show that kids must “do” to learn, so simply talking or reading about a concept doesn’t translate to true, thorough learning. 

Whether your kids are schooling from home, using a hybrid model, fully back to school, or joining small groups for micro-schooling, I’d like to share some tips on how to make this year a success.

  1. Make sure your kids have opportunities for socialization. This is #1 for a reason – educational and psychological professionals nationwide are collectively concerned about the impact this virus is having on much-needed social time for kids. The good news is that home schoolers have been handling this beautifully for years and are proof that a child can be educated at home and blend in beautifully in social situations. So take a page from their book and get your kids involved in any program that is up and running. Maybe they can try a sport they never would have played otherwise. Or perhaps they’ll discover an activity that allows them to let off steam and have some fun with one other friend or a small group. The key is to concentrate on creating opportunities for your kids to be social, while helping them to discover what we already know – that the quality of friendships is much more important than the quantity. 
  2. Recognize when you need help. Many parents discovered at the end of the last school year that trying to juggle it all – including overseeing their children’s education – was just too much. And it likely is, for even the most organized person! This is where you need to invite in the pros. Former teachers and content experts like myself are available to help kids stay focused and motivated, something that is hard enough in normal circumstances, but that much harder now. Without a set schedule, routine, and regular reminders, kids have to pull from their internal motivation and the resources at their disposal to complete assignments, study for tests, and get all the information they need in a brief online lesson. Most won’t. At this age, they need prodding, and the last thing you want as a parent is to spend your day nagging.
  3. Make sure your kids are physically active. It will be way too tempting for them to lie in bed all day on their phones or computers. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, this will take an enormous toll on their psyches as well as their growing bodies. They will need fresh air and sunshine, walks, and workouts to replace the physical activity they naturally would have gotten at school. With many organized sports on hold and PE no longer built into the schedule, kids will need to do this on their own.
  4. Provide a creative outlet for those who need it. Art and music classes, drama, projects – kids who rely on these activities for inspiration will struggle with online education. Just as athletes need to keep their muscles strong and stamina up, creative kids need to engage the right hemispheres of their brains to be at their best. Imagine how tough it is for theater kids to give up the camaraderie of rehearsals and performances. So try to find an outlet for them, whether it’s a small group performance with friends, private music lessons, or an art competition.
  5. Pray for your kids. God knows what they need more than you or anyone else does. Pray daily that Covid will be an opportunity for your kids to explore new pathways or discover new interests and talents. Many families report that quarantine time and the slower pace have helped them to draw closer together. Use this time to support your kids within the family unit and to have fun in ways you may never have considered before. And never stop praying.

If you need help, guidance, or resources with your middle or high school kids, please feel free to contact me through I’m here to help in any way I can during this time of unknowns. The wonderful news is that kids are resilient and they will adapt, as long as they have the right kind of support along the way.

Rebecca Deurlein

Rebecca Deurlein is the author of Teenagers 101: What a top teacher wishes you knew about helping your kid succeed, and President of Teenager Success 101, a one-on-one academic coaching company dedicated to helping kids find success. She blogs and writes internationally, speaks to parents across the nation, and loves every minute of living in Sugar Land, TX. Find her on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Huffington Post, or through her own blog A Teacher’s Guide to Understanding Teenagers. All can be accessed at