Most students were going to school and living their best life last spring when BAM! – COVID-19 rocked our world. To say we were unprepared is an understatement. Kids moved to online learning, something they had never done before. And for some, it was tough.
Finding adequate internet access, adjusting to a teacher’s style of online instruction and having to ask parents, rather than teachers, for help were just a few of the challenges that kids encountered. Now, as kids are heading back to school – many online again – here are some tips to make sure the year goes smoothly.
A dedicated learning space. Whether it’s the bedroom, the kitchen table or an office, make sure you have a good internet connection and all the supplies needed for your child to be a successful student, like a calendar to mark deadlines and write out a to do list. Also, make sure the space is free from distractions like TV, and silence or remove cellphones from the space during school hours.
Create a schedule and stick to it. Routines keep us stay organized, help us know what to expect and make us feel more in control. This can boost your child’s self-confidence and improve their mental health. Don’t forget to build in breaks – for snacks and meals or taking a walk or bike ride.
Take it seriously. Don’t assume that online learning is easier than in-person. In fact, for many, it’s even harder. Explain to your kids that they have to hold themselves accountable by managing their time and that some find it harder to focus during online learning vs. in-person teaching.
Get out of your comfort zone. Online learning may be an opportunity for your child to grow personally as well as academically. Maybe they’re shy and don’t feel comfortable “raising their hand” during a video call or reaching out to their teacher for help. Have them challenge themselves to take these steps so they don’t fall behind. Plus, they could be helping their classmates by asking a question they may need the answer to also.
Start with the most difficult assignments. We’re usually more focused when we first begin a project at the start of our day, so have them save easier assignments for later in the day when they may be more distracted or mentally tired.
Embrace technology. We may joke that our children’s generation was born knowing how to use technology, but online learning may require that your kids learn new applications. Plus, glitches happen and devices crash. Tell them to save their work often and do their best to learn the ins and outs of the programs they’re being asked to use.
Whether your kids are returning to school this fall in person, taking some classes online and some in person, all online, or yo-yoing between the three models, these tips will help them to be successful now and in the future.
Parker Huston, PhD, is a pediatric psychologist working in the Comprehensive Pediatric Feeding Program. He primarily provides services through the evaluation clinics, outpatient treatment and intensive feeding track.
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