August 6, 2020 | Kids Club. Share this article:
The Covid 19 pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone. Most of us have experienced a complete upheaval of our normal way of life. Schools are facing the challenge of providing distance learning options for their students, and parents are being called on to be more involved in their children’s education than ever before, all while dealing with the stressors of working from home themselves, keeping up with household chores and responsibilities, and trying to navigate a global pandemic. Understandably, parents are feeling a great deal of pressure. How can we help our children adjust these distance learning experiences?
10 ways to set up your child for distance learning success.
- Perfection is impossible. First, it’s important to take a step back and realize that perfection should not be our goal. None of us signed up for this, and we’re all doing the best we can in these unprecedented times. Our mental health and physical well-being is what matters most. Be gentle with yourself, and be gentle with your children. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
- Understand your role. Parents are not expected to take the place of their children’s teachers or to be content matter experts. Instead, think of yourself in a support role. Your job is to provide support and encouragement, and to expect your child to do their part by keeping on task and owning their responsibilities.
- Make space for schoolwork. Children will achieve their best work in a quiet spot dedicated to learning, ideally in a different space than where they would normally play or watch TV. A place free of distractions with room to keep their books and papers organized, like a dining room table or a desk in their room, will fit the bill.
- Have a routine. Most kids thrive on the comfort of a routine. Knowing what to expect throughout the day helps them concentrate on their work instead of wondering what’s going to happen next. Work with your child to come up with a daily schedule that provides time for schoolwork, as well as time for chores, rest, and recreational time. Have them get up at the same time every day, get dressed, and start their schoolwork as they would during a normal school year.
- Use checklists and a timer. For students who struggle to focus, a visual checklist can be extremely helpful. Help your children write a checklist for each day and for each week. In the morning, ask your child what their tasks are for the day. What are their learning targets or goals? What resources do they require? This process will help children to sort out the instructions they’ve received from their teachers and help them set priorities. Set up a routine that’s similar to their bell schedule at school. When the timer goes off, it’s time to move on to the next task. Let older kids set their own routine so they feel empowered to stay on top of things themselves.
- Give your child choices. Once you’ve developed a schedule with your child, build in ways to give your child some control – within reason. Maybe they want to do math and science first thing and would rather read after lunch. Great! As long as they get all of their work done, giving them flexibility will empower them to take ownership of their work.
- Use technology for learning. After all these years of trying to keep your kids off their screens, now is the time to use them to your benefit. Utilize any and all available resources to enhance independent learning, such as online games, educational videos, audio books, and virtual fieldtrips. The possibilities for online learning are endless. See our list of websites and apps for educational support.
- Remember that learning happens everywhere. With children spending more time at home, it’s a great time to teach them new household responsibilities. Kids can do a lot more than we give them credit for, and chores help teach kids essential life skills and a sense of their place in the family. Take some time to teach them how to cook, clean, and do laundry, and give them more responsibility for helping out around the house. Meaningful exchanges can happen whenever you spend time with your child. Cooking together can help build relationships AND fraction skills, and you never know what might come up as you fold laundry or wash the dishes side by side.
- Take time for recreation. Don’t forget to allocate time for physical activity, brain breaks, and meals. Set alarms similar to those students would encounter at school and encourage them to get up, get some fresh air, and participate in physical activities. Physical activity is a natural way to reduce stress and prevent anxiety, and it has been shown to have a positive impact on how we think. Encourage them to use breaks in the day to stretch, walk the dog, or ride their bike around the block — any movement helps.
- Communicate with teachers. This is a confusing time for parents, students, and teachers alike. If you’re having a hard time with your child’s learning, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let teachers know if your child or your family is struggling to make online learning work. Most teachers have plenty of resources to suggest for struggling learners, and may also be able to meet with your child for one-on-one help with a Zoom call.
While the next few months will continue to be a challenge for all of us, we can also view it as an opportunity. Kids have an unprecedented opportunity to establish independence and self-directed learning skills. They can learn how to prioritize their time and create a schedule, and how to take responsibility for their own learning. Teachers can see their students in a different light, and kids may thrive in a different setting. Now more than ever, the home is one of the most foundational elements of a child’s overall learning environment. There will be good days and bad days, but positive intentions, love, and consistency will go a long way toward helping us survive this period and emerge as better people in the end.