Here at PAPER, we have been publishing our weekly post to help teachers adjust to emergency distance learning. This week we wanted to extend our support for our newly “promoted” frontline educators: Parents.

Parents’ role in their children’s education has been greatly augmented, and naturally, this will come with a new set of challenges.

Here are some tips to help parents better help their children and make home a productive learning environment.

1. Help keep them on track

Ask any teacher, and they will tell you that one of their biggest challenges is keeping students focused. Pretty obvious that math, science, and writing are not every child’s ideal way to pass the time, especially at home.

One sure-fire way to keep them on track would be creating daily learning schedules to help them stay on top of homework and assignments. If you need ideas on how to create one, you can use the free myHomework app for guidance. You and your child could also set weekly goals as a way to keep focused on long term progress (some help for this can be found here). Make sure to check on their work from time to time too - the environment at home is filled with distractions, so gentle reminders and check-ins help keep children on track.

2. Understand limitations (both yours and theirs)

As great as it would be to put our kids on autopilot and have them tear through three hours of class assignments in one sitting, the reality is students get distracted...a lot. That’s ok, though! Understanding that your child needs time away from course material is key in keeping frustration levels low.

Just as important, you’ll need time away from their work too. Set a break timer and go for a walk, do some stretching, maybe listen to a favourite song. Come back to the task with a fresh perspective or with a fresh cup of coffee. Sometimes that’s all it takes for things to fall into place. For some brain break ideas, check out this resource.

3. Parent-Teacher communication

While teachers are working to plan accessible online lessons, parents are working on the front lines to put them into action. This is a new situation for you, and teachers become the best lifelines (I mean guidelines) in helping your child succeed.

Letting teachers know what is and isn’t working in terms of home learning for your child will help you both in finding the best approaches to keep learning productive and effective. Teachers have a vast bank of resources they would love to share, so reach out to them if you and your child are looking for extra help on a particular assignment or topic. Keeping an open line of communication will be more important now that parents and teachers are more closely tied in helping students succeed academically.

4. Help them help you

Students love asking for stuff, but not when it comes to helping with their schoolwork. Some students have a hard time pinpointing what they are struggling with. While it can become tempting to provide them with answers when they’re stuck, in the long term, it doesn’t help with their learning. Working through the problem, and making mistakes along the way is a very important part of the process. Help guide them by having them start at the beginning, look through class notes, and work the question from there. This will help them better understand and retain content, while also strengthen study skills.

It’s also important to remember that encouragement can go a long way throughout this process. As your child works on an assignment be sure to articulate what a good job they are doing and what a good attitude they are maintaining. It might seem like no big deal, but it can make all the difference in building the confidence needed to push through challenging work.

The PAPER Team is Here to Help!

This article is the sixth in our weekly series by teachers, for teachers, to help them adjust to teaching from home.

Each week, the Teacher Engagement Team at PAPER will provide comprehensive resources and strategies to ease the transition to distance learning.

Want more on Special Education from Home? Tune into this week's remote learning webinar, every Thursday to connect with other educators in the same boat. PAPER's teacher team will be offering tips, tricks, and a live Q&A discussion!

If you want to check out some of our past weekly webinars, you can find them on our YouTube channel.

Make sure to subscribe to the PAPER Blog to keep track of other events and resources our team is putting together for you!


Founded in 2014, Paper is an Educational Support System (ESS) providing students with 24/7 live help & essay review, and teachers with real-time feedback and intervention tools. Paper partners with districts across North America to close the achievement gap and support educational equity.