As classes return to session for the fall semester and some in person programs begin for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and parents have already begun navigating what learning looks like in an unprecedented time.


With uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, and other distractions related to it, it can be difficult to keep students and young learners engaged in class work.


There are several ways that parents can assist their children with staying motivated this fall, according to local educators.


Here are five tips for helping students stay engaged during COVID-19:


1. Set and keep a daily routine


With the start of the new school year, some students will begin their studies from at home rather than the classroom. For these students, it will be important to set and keep a daily routine, said Lacie Giasson, a second grade teacher with Mayes Elementary in Denison.


"I think for those at home or at school learners, one of the most important things is to make those kids get back into a routine — to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, even if they are at home," she said. "I think that will help spur a successful day because if they are just rolling out of bed they aren’t usually as engaged."


Though they ended the school year remotely, Giasson believes a return to some level of normality may help keep them motivated.


2. Find ways to celebrate success


Schools have ways to celebrate accomplishments, but parents may need to find ways to replicate this at home.


"At school we have ways to celebrate successes," Giasson said. "We are having to adapt, yes, but I think at home that the parents need to find a way to celebrate the work they are doing."


As a part of this, Giasson recommended setting goals for students and working on ways to achieve them throughout the school year.


"When the parent can’t find a way to motivate a student the same way a teacher can, they can work together to find a way that might be more effective," she said.


3. Stay engaged with their progress


Giasson recommended that parents, regardless of if their students attend in person or remotely, remain diligent and engaged in their children’s progress through their studies.


For students working from home, this can include monitoring their activities and progress throughout the day.


I think one of the more important things is to monitor and checking in with them and making sure they are on task," she said.


Giasson, who teaches both in-person and remote students, said she has hod moments where she has had to bring remote a remote student’s attention back to their classroom due to distractions at home.


In both scenarios, she said it is important for parents to communicate both with their children and the teachers.


"Communication between the kids, parents and teachers is vital right now," she said. "When the parent can’t find a way to motivate a student the same way a teacher can, they can work together to find a way that might be more effective,."


4. Find alternative activities


One way to escape from the tedium of the day, and keep children focused, is to add some variety to the day. Not all lessons need to take place in front of the computer screen, Giasson said.


Instead of the pen and paper, Giasson recommended using sidewalk chalk outside as a way to change the pace for students. Parents could also decide to take lessons outdoor for the afternoon as a way of adding some variety to the school day.


5. Stay positive


Finally, Giasson said it is important that parents remain positive during the ongoing health crisis. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by everything going on, and children will innately look to their parents.


"The biggest thing is that they want to go back to school — they want to be here," she said.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.