Paper Matters Blog
Back to School Tips for In-Person or Distance Learning

As the back to school season nears, schools of every type are rethinking their school plans and how to keep students safe and healthy. As a parent of elementary and middle school students, I know I will be rethinking how to best support my children, whether they are face to face in the classroom, learning at home or even a hybrid approach of both options. Here’s what I learned from the Spring and what I plan to do differently as a parent to prepare students for back to school.

The Benefits of Pen to Paper

It’s a proven fact writing on paper stimulates your brain. A study of students across ten countries found that students saw the benefits of reading and writing with paper versus digital technologies. Also, students who take handwritten notes experience less digital distraction and can increase their focus and retain knowledge at a deeper level. According to researchers at Princeton University and the University of California, students that take handwritten notes generally outperformed students who typed their notes via computer. Both of my children preferred printouts and putting pen to paper to complete assignments. The number of browser tabs that my middle schooler had open on her laptop made me cringe and reinforced that digital distraction was very present while she was trying to complete work. Notebooks and plain sheets of paper helped alleviate digital distraction and kept my children more focused.

I’ve always tried to monitor my children’s screen time, but face reality, it’s been a challenge the past few months. The Center for Disease Control has reported that children ages eight to 10 spend an average of six hours per day in front of a screen, kids ages 11 to 14 spend an average of our nine hours. One thing I’ve tried to do is balance screen time with creative non-screen alternatives such as working on paper, reading or walking the dog for the fifth time today.

Whether it’s handwriting or doodling, creativity and focus increase when you work on paper. Doodling also enhances your mood and reduces stress. According to a study published in The Arts in Psychotherapy, doodling increased blood flow to the front of the brain and 75% of participants reduced their cortisol levels by doodling.  The benefits of doodling are many but my favorite is that doodling functions as creative meditation. I’m a fan of Field Notes memo books and they are the perfect tool for doodling, note-taking and creative ideas.

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TIP: Print out assignments to be completed on paper and take creative paper-based breaks.

Reading on Paper

My children had to juggle multiple zoom calls during distance learning. While an exercise in planning gymnastics, digital fatigue is real and video calls require more of our brain to decipher and process conversations. Digital fatigue happens when you stare at your tablet, phone or computer screen for too long. Kids are mostly affected by digital fatigue so giving your kids eyes a break from the screen gives their eyes a chance to relax. Stocking paper on hand to print worksheets or other assignments helps give children a break between online assignments and zoom calls.

We also read differently on paper versus reading on screen. By their very nature, screen reading lends itself to scanning. Several studies have concluded that people read slower, less accurately and comprehend less by reading online. Reading on paper boasts several advantages such as people prefer it. The tactile nature of reading on paper improves comprehension. Students retain information and absorb information more readily when text is printed on paper. Both of my kids prefer reading physical books. Incorporating options for kids to read on paper helps give their eyes a break and helps them remember what they read.

TIP: Reduce digital fatigue and increase reading comprehension by reading on paper versus screen.

Planning on Paper

When we switched to learning at home in the Spring, the most helpful tool was a daily to do list written down on paper. My high school daughter had to quickly adapt to multiple emails, zoom calls and managing a calendar in addition to managing her workload. This is a skill set that I have developed over many years of working but we expected our middle and high school students to grasp these organizational concepts right from the beginning. This extra step of writing everything down helps students stay on top of their schoolwork, schedules and reminders. Start each day with a “to do” list or a paper-based planner. There are several options that are geared toward teens.  However, simple can be best and help a student stay on track. Here’s a free Daily Student Planner Printable to get you started.

TIP: Have you student plan their day on paper using our free daily student planner.

Supply Prep for In-Person or Distance Learning

While everyone’s learning style is different, the best ideas begin when you put them on paper. Stocking your home with the right paper to meet your students learning needs is a must. Available in convenient pack sizes, Lettermark™ Copy Paper offers flexible pack sizes for limited storage space. Crafted in North America and featuring 92 brightness and ColorLok® technology, Lettermark Copy Paper is the perfect canvas for your students’ creativity and productivity. Sustainably made, you can feel good about choosing Lettermark Copy Paper for your students learning needs.


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