5 Ways to Help Your Teen Thrive While Doing School from Home

Homeschooling is becoming more widespread due to COVID-19. It's a good alternative for elementary and middle school students, if one parent can be home and take control of the homeschool curriculum.

But, what if your child is in high school or college, doesn't want to be doing school from home, and is feeling stressed at the thought of another semester on-line? That's a different challenge from homeschooling K-8 students.

Unfortunately, parents have lost control over how and where their high school teens and college students will be learning this fall. Both public and private schools have made difficult choices in the face of COVID-19, and many are opting for on-line or hybrid learning. Why? Because they can't guarantee that their students and faculty will remain healthy at school.

What do parents still have control over? Anything happening inside their home. So it's up to us, as parents, to help our high school teens and college students thrive despite the challenge of not being in a school environment.

Here are 5 strategies you can put in place to help your teen handle the stress of doing high school or college at home, and have a successful fall semester :

1) Let your teen set up their own “school” environment: If your teen creates their own place to study that is private and safe, that will become a haven for them. Having a clutter-free work space that is comfortable and quiet is critical. Encourage them to “decorate” the space and really make it their own, especially for college students who are missing their college campus.

2) Give your teen responsibility for their academic performance: Having control over their academic life will help your teen feel empowered. Don't disturb them while they are in their “school” space. Make sure both high school and college students are using a planner to stay on top of all assignments and on-line classes. For college students, make it clear that they should function as if they were at college, and don't have you to rely on.

3) Encourage your teen to have downtime where they can relax and rejuvenate: Stress can build up if your teen spends too much time on academics and not enough time on taking care of the emotional part of themselves. Downtime is needed to help manage stress, so encourage your teen to take breaks and enjoy themselves. Let your teen decide how to use their downtime: listening to music; taking a walk; playing with pets; reading a book for fun; gaming: meditation; and anything else that makes them feel good.

4) Make gratitude part of your family's routine: Expressing gratitude increases happiness because it helps us focus on the positive aspects of our lives. Teens, like all of us, tend to think
about what's not good in their lives, and given the current realities it's so easy to point out the negative. Two possibilities for adding a family gratitude practice are: First, using a gratitude jar where each family member writes something they're grateful for on a piece of paper each day and drops it in the jar, then they are read aloud at a meal or another time when everyone is together. Second, having each family member use a journal to write down 3 things they are grateful for that day, and make a specific time when everyone writes in their journal.

5) Agree on ways your teen can connect with friends beyond Zoom, social media and texting: Teens need to maintain social connections for their mental health, and not permitting any socializing outside the home will add to their stress. Most college students wanted to return to their college campus because they missed seeing their friends and being in an environment with other people their age. Consider small groups of friends in your backyard with masks or meeting a few friends at a restaurant that has outdoor dining.

Your role, as the parent of a teen, is to help them get through this next semester in the most positive way possible under the circumstances. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how disappointed and stressed they may be feeling. Give them as much autonomy as you can so they won't feel like they're being watched every minute. Make your interactions positive and supportive; they don't need nagging, they need to feel in control and capable.

1. Always Tired

Determine why your child is tired.

  • Is it because they aren’t getting enough sleep?
  • Are they mismanaging their time and getting to bed very late? 
  • Are they too stressed to fall asleep? 
  • Have they been partying late into the night?

2. Weight Gain or Loss

Find out where, when, and what your child has been eating. 

  • Are they making unhealthy choices or eating late at night?
  • Have they been doing any kind of exercise? 
  • Are they becoming too concerned with their body image?

3. Missing classes

Identify the reason your child is missing classes.

  • Have they been too tired to wake up on time?
  • Are they not prepared for the class?
  • Did they decide the class is boring and not worth their time? 

4. Not Communicating

Determine why you are not hearing from your child.

Are they so busy and engaged in their college life that they aren’t thinking about home?
​Could they be avoiding talking to you because things aren’t going well? 

​Have you established a plan for regular communication with them?

5. Poor Grades

Find out what is causing your child to have poor grades.

  • Are they studying and trying their best?
    ​Could the courses be too difficult? 
  • ​Does your child prioritize studying and academics, or social life? 
  • ​Is your child overwhelmed by college life and unable to focus on academics?

6. Change in Mood

Identify why your child ‘s moods have been noticeably different from what had been true in the past.

  • Is there something in the college environment that is causing their mood change?
  • ​Does your child seem happy or unhappy?
  • ​Is your child stressed, anxious, or in control?  


7. Social Isolation

Determine why your child has become isolated from other students.

  • Does your child feel overwhelmed and need some alone time?
  • Has your child decided he or she doesn’t fit in?
  • Was there some incident that caused your child to choose isolation?


8. Frequently Sick

Figure out why your child has been sick so often.

  • Are they not getting enough sleep?
  • ​Have they been spending time with students who are sick?
  • ​Did they see a doctor on campus for an exam?
  • ​Should they be eating healthier or taking vitamins?


What should a parent do?

If your child is exhibiting a number of the signs listed above, you will want to discover what these signs really mean by speaking with your child to determine if he or she would benefit from additional support.
Many parents find it difficult to get their children to be totally open about what is actually happening at college. If this is your situation, it is important to enlist a trusted adult to have those conversations.
I often serve in that role for parents. As a health coach, I specialize in helping college students manage stress so they can have a successful and enjoyable college experience.

My role is one of support and accountability. I become your student’s cheerleader and mentor –giving you peace of mind knowing your child has someone focusing solely on their health and well being
To speak with me privately about your son or daughter and explore how I can support you.

You can also reach me by email at:
By text or phone at: 203-912-8078

I look forward to speaking with you soon!