By Michelle Napier

We were all forced into remote learning back in March when the global pandemic began, and we all did our best to survive a life that we thought was temporary. As the new school year starts with many students still learning remotely and parents working from home, parents are looking for answers on how to make this year as positive of an experience as possible.

I have taught in public, private and charter schools, and I’m currently homeschooling my two daughters, ages 11 and 12.  I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but the past twenty years of teaching have given me insight on how to keep children actively engaged and learning in a variety of educational settings. I also want parents to know that distance learning is NOT homeschooling– it’s way harder! Be kind to yourself, teaching can be tough.

  1. Breathe, Breathe and Breathe Again. The first thing I want to say is that your child is going to be just fine. You child’s academic success in life or getting into college is not at risk. Take time to breathe and go with the flow. Remote learning will look and be different from learning at school.
  2. Create a Learning Space. If possible, create a quiet space to work with all the supplies that might be needed. Put everything in place or use a container with all the “stuff”. You might also consider having kids select a drink and snack before beginning work.
  3. Plan out a Flexible Schedule. Work backwards and start by scheduling blocks of time around what the teacher has set. Having a routine is crucial to your child’s success and communicates clear expectations so everyone is on the same page. Remember, your child is used to a daily schedule at school, as well as bells telling them when and where they need to be throughout the day. So don’t be afraid to use timers, post a daily/weekly schedule and make sure to schedule in breaks and outside time. But be flexible because life will happen and you’ll need to find what works best for you.
  4. Clarify Roles and Expectations. This would be a great activity to create with your child. Kids need to know exactly what you expect of them. The more you can help your child understand what school at home should look like, the better your results will be and the less stressed you’ll be. Think of this as the classroom rules and make a list. For example, as the student I will try to figure things out on my own before I ask for help. As the parent, I will be patient and offer help.
  5. Focus on Essentials. Reading and math are 2 subject areas where students benefit the most from steady and ongoing practice.
  6. Communication is Key. Stay connected with your child’s teacher and schedule weekly or monthly check-ins. Remember teachers are trying to figure all of this out as well and distance learning uses a completely different skill set than most of them were trained in. They are spending hours in meetings, trainings, planning, creating, learning and implementing new ways to teach. Be patient, team up and work together. Above all please don’t assume the worst!
  7. Playdates. Your kids are missing their friends and need time to connect. If you can’t meet in person organize a video call with your child’s friend to help boost their mood. Make sure you do the same!

*To hear more advice from Michelle Napier, register for a free webinar on September 3rd hosted by Orange County Bar Association’s Covid-19 Task Force and Mommy Esquire, “You Can Do This! How to Survive Working from Home and Overseeing Remote Schooling.” Register on the OCBA website, or email


  1. GoPeer (
  2. Freckle (
  3. Gamed Academy (
  4. Teachers Pay Teachers (
  5. Outschool (
  6. Rainbow Resource (
  7. Lakeshore Learning (
  8. BrainPop (
  9. Khan Academy (
  10. Brave Writer (

For more tips, please see Montage’s prior articles on remote working during Covid-19:

Michelle Napier

Michelle is a wife and mother of two beautiful daughters ages 11 and 12. She has been an educator for over 20 years and taught in both public and private school. Her teaching background includes preschool through eighth grade, as well as mentoring new teachers. Michelle has created comprehensive K-8 curriculum for new schools, including multiple learning modalities and positive behavior management. Her background includes an extensive amount of work with both Gate identified students and those struggling to meet grade level standards. In addition, she worked with McGraw-Hill Publishers and trained teachers all over the western part of the United States in all subject areas. Today, Michelle enjoys homeschooling her two daughters and is an Educational Facilitator for a public charter school. She works with homeschooling families on curriculum choices, lesson plans, schedules and problem solving. Michelle is passionate about helping children receive an education that is tailored to their unique learning style and personality, so they are able to grow and reach their highest potential.

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