New: Keeping kids focused during COVID school closures
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How to keep kids focused during coronavirus school closures

Dear families,

In light of coronavirus, many schools are cancelled, either completely or with only distance learning options.

Here are some 5 tips to keep your middle and high students engaged and learning during their month long break:

  • 1. Make a plan.

Without the structure of 7 periods a day, students may easily lose their day to binge watching Netflix. Even if mom and dad are at home, no student wants to be held accountable to parents. Instead of acting like a micromanager, help your student develop independence by encouraging them to create their own plan.

We recommend planning out

  • An hour a day for exercise
  • An hour a day for school work (remaining assignments, projects, tests, catch up)
  • At least 3 hours of other academic instruction. The break is a great opportunity for your student to work on skills he or she usually doesn’t have time to improve. This could be improving at English, if your student was never a great writer, or practicing speeches, if you have a shy student. Studying vocab is a great exercise that anyone can do on Quizlet. There are always ways to improve!

If your student shrugs off the requirement to do 4 hours of schoolwork, ask them to calculate how many hours they typically spend on school and homework. Anything is a vacation compared to that ;)

Make sure your student writes their plan down so you can hold them accountable to it. No mental plans allowed!

  • 2. Start SAT/ACT prep.

Every student considering college will need to take the SAT eventually. Instead of saving that until junior year, when you’ll also have to juggle APs and extracurriculars, why not start now? You can check out an e-book at your local library (Kaplan, Barron’s, Princeton Review, etc) for self study or reach out to work with us remotely. Our remote students achieve the same average improvement as our in person students!

Warning: Even while using e-books, it’s really important for students to use pencil and paper to show work and to take notes.

We would NOT recommend students using entirely online experiences, such as Khan Academy, because they do not closely mirror the real testing experience.

For students who may struggle with self-study, reach out to us to start 1:1 tutoring! We offer Skype and in person SAT prep.

  • 3. Work on personal projects.

A very resourceful Seattle teenager built Well, we know he’s getting into college ;) Even if school is out, students can create their own extracurricular projects, whether it’s setting up a site or or stepping up to volunteer grocery runs for the elderly.

Want to stay at home? Some hobbies that kids can start at home include making an exercise wheel for your cat, trying out some makeup science, DIYing some hand sanitizer, or making acrylic pours. You can learn a language in 5 minutes a day using Duolingo. The options are endless!

  • 4. Exercise.

Cooped up in a house, both you and your student will grow antsy. There are some great Youtube videos by blogilates or my personal favorite, Popsugar fitness, which features quick (as fast as 3 minutes) no-equipment workouts. The 7 minute New York Times workout also requires little space or resources.

The CDC recommends teens age 13-18 at least 1 hour of moderate to intense exercise almost daily.

Make sure to wear face masks if you are going to the gym to exercise!

  • 5. Relax with a book!

Break is a great time to snuggle up with some tea and a good book. Some of my students have recently recommended to me American Royals, Three Dark Crowns, and What I Know for Sure.

Times’ Best 100 Youth Adult Novels of All Time is another great resource to check out.

If the 5 tips above aren’t sticking, reach out to us for help! We’ve been working with students via Skype and video call for over 3 years. 20% of our students are remote -- we’ve NEVER met them in person -- and our remote students achieve the same success metrics as our in-person students. This month long break is a great opportunity for students to start on SAT prep, AP self studies, or spike projects and get ahead for later. We are helping many students create personal plans for their breaks.

We offer free initial consultations (in person or via Skype). All our classes are 1:1.

This article was originally posted at

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