For Families: How to Support Students’ Remote Learning

group working at a table

Parents and Guardians: How to help your college students while they learn from home

Students may find themselves in very different locations this year – some will be learning at home while others will be learning on-campus. Different areas of the country and world are experiencing different levels of hardship and disruption. No matter where we are, we are all learning and growing as we go, and it’s a time to be extra kind and patient with each other.

Cornell’s Learning Strategies Center is here to help students think through steps they can take to learn effectively in this new environment. You can see these resources at If you have a student who is learning at home, it is important to work with them to create appropriate space, physical, temporal, and emotional, for them to be successful. Here are some things your student could use your help with:

Physical Space Needs

Your student will need a space (preferably quiet) where they can:

working at a computer

  • attend virtual classes.
  • study and do homework.
  • work with other students on group projects.
  • participate in other remote Cornell meetings and work.

With many people staying home and some public spaces, such as libraries, closed, it might be challenging for your student to find a quiet space to work at home. Have a frank conversation so you can determine how your household will prioritize and use shared resources such as quite spaces, internet bandwidth, etc. during this time of remote learning.

Time Needs

time clockSome of your students’ course obligations will happen on a flexible schedule, some will happen at set times. Don’t necessarily expect your student to be available when you want- for example, at family meals.

Your students’ schedules may be challenging for the rest of your household—especially if you’re in a different time zone than Cornell. While many of your students’ school interactions can happen asynchronously, some (office hours, small discussion sections, group project meetings) may need to happen during times that are inconvenient for the rest of the household. Even if you’re in Cornell’s time zone, students may interact and study together on-line at hours that, let’s face it, make no sense to you as a parent/guardian. Talk ahead of time about how everyone might be able to minimize potential disruption and meet each other’s needs as best you can.

Emotional Space Needs

people talkingStudents, whether they are new or continuing, are navigating their way and figuring out how this will work, and they’ll need support as well as some space to get used to this new set up.

Don’t forget, your students are still extraordinarily capable young people! They don’t need reminders about due dates, homework, etc., unless they specifically ask for your help.

Do expect your student to contribute to household chores like any other member of the family – just know that their schedule might be less flexible due to required coursework or other college activities. Set up a shared set of expectations for use and upkeep of common spaces (dirty dishes in the sink, we see you!).

y Para Familias: Aprendizaje Durante COVID-19

See Cornell’s Covid-19 updates page for useful updates and information.

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