Just like many other things in 2020, back to school is looking very different for most students. Some school districts are going completely virtual, others are offering cyber school option as an alternative the traditional school setting, and many have switched to a hybrid learning schedule (part online, part in the classroom) to decrease the amount of time in the classroom. These solutions vary widely from community to community depending on local mandates, the number of COVID-19 cases being reported in the area, and feedback from members of the community.
Whatever your new routine may be for back to school in 2020 we have some tips that you can apply to keep your kids on task, stay productive yourself and keep your home network secure.
Managing Your Schedule
Your schedule for 2020 has most likely evolved over the past few months. Plans have been disrupted and we have been forced to pivot our lifestyle and our schedules to adapt to new protocols and mandates such as school closures and operational limitations for businesses.
If you have a job where you can work from home, and also have children that attending virtual classes it’s helpful to align those schedules so your children are occupied with tasks while you are working. It is beneficial to maintain the same schedule as you would have had when physically going into the office or school to stay productive.
Although it can be tempting to sleep in or stay in your pajamas, simply waking up and sticking to your morning routine can help boost productivity throughout the day. Alarm.com has recently shared some great tips for home scheduling.
To prevent burn out, be sure to take fun family breaks, get outdoors, go for a walk, or at least step away from your work areas to break up the day.
Setting Up A Work Space For Online Learning
If possible, your child should have a dedicated workspace to use for schooling. Create a space that is free of distractions where you can keep an eye on your children to make sure they are staying on task. If you have separate workspaces you can use your indoor cameras to peak in on them throughout the day.
Setting up your child’s workspace is very similar to setting up your home office. Be aware of your surroundings especially if you child is participating in video calls. Think about what parts of your home others are going to see. Is there a clear line of sight into the room from the outside? You may want to install blinds or curtains to prevent onlookers from seeing what devices are in your space.
If you are converting an area of your home into a workspace, be sure to test your WiFi signal strength in that area. If it happens to be in a dead zone of your home like a second floor bedroom or finished basement, you may need to purchase WiFi extenders to get optimal internet speeds for online learning.
While the weather is nice, you may want to take the classroom outdoors. If you plan to use your devices outside, you could use WiFi extenders in your outdoor areas as well.
Setting Up Your Home Network
The security of your home network should be a top priority. We are spending more time on devices especially with new work-from-home arrangements, virtual classrooms or the addition of new devices used to communicate with family members remotely. Taking this new activity into consideration, make sure your home network is configured for optimal performance and security.
Cybersecurity Best Practices for the Whole Family
Each member of your household, including children, should follow these simple best practices to keep your network devices secure:
Use strong passwords, never use defaults
Set up two-factor authentication whenever possible
Keep your software up to date
Keep an eye out for online scams, unsecure websites and phishing emails
You can read our recent article on keeping your online accounts secure for more detailed information.
Home Network Settings for Increased Security
If you have young children in your household, you may want to set up network restrictions to prevent them from coming across websites pages that are notorious for malware or have content that is inappropriate for their age level. You can also set up restrictions on downloading new apps.
You should also set up your home WiFi network with a strong password and security settings. Avoid setting up an open guest network as this can increase your risk to cyber-attacks and would also allow neighbors to access the network, potentially slowing your speeds. With many WiFi routers you have the option to view a list of connected devices, if an unknown device is connected you can remove or block it from your home network.
You might think a large business network has more potential of being attacked, however your home network may be an easier target for cyber criminals to obtain your personal account information, credit card numbers or bank account info. Your home network is not too small to be at risk. For more tips on securing your home network visit the website for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
Making Sure Your Network Has Enough Bandwidth
Especially if you plan to work from home during the same time your child is participating in online studies there may be multiple users in the home in virtual meetings at the same time. Can your home network handle the increased demand for internet? Read our article on internet speeds to learn more about how you can determine the proper speeds for the number of devices being used in your home. And don’t forget devices like your security panel, smart home hubs and security cameras to factor into the number of devices that are connected.
Keeping Your Home Clean with Kids Coming Home from School
Not everyone is switching to a virtual learning environment. For some, going back to school involves getting on the bus and attending in person classes, or maybe they are going to be experiencing a blend of in-person and online classes. Schools are taking many precautions to keep kids safe as they return for the school year, but it’s best to continue safe and healthy hygiene practices, social distancing and other recommendations from the CDC to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from the classroom to the home.
Technology in your home can be used to help with keeping your house free of germs and viruses. The easiest way is to decrease the number of devices that you interact with. With more automation and handsfree options you can limit contact with your security panel, thermostat, light switches and more. This lowers the chance of spreading germs on points of contact you interact with before getting an opportunity to wash your hands thoroughly. Features like Bluetooth disarming are just one of the solutions Qolsys and their SmartHome IQ Panel offers. Or use your Alarm.com app to control smart devices and arm/disarm your panel.
As you adjust to the school year, Select SmartHome is here to help make your life easier with smart automations and home security that can give you more peace of mind. If you’re ready to implement some of the features we mentioned above or simply want to increase your home’s security contact Select SmartHome today!