Remote Learning Suggestions for Parents
We know this can be a difficult time of year for students and parents with the cold days of February upon us. Your child may be a fully remote learner, or just a temporary remote student- either way- here are some tips from our Student Support Professionals that may be helpful as we all move into the second semester of the year.
- Keep a routine as much as possible. Routine helps kids (and all of us) feel safe and in control. Keep to the school schedule and bedtimes or work to find your own routines if that is not possible. Set up a specific location to do work and have everything you need on hand. Also, try to limit distractions! Use headphones and separate work areas for siblings if at all possible. (If you have any technology needs, reach out to your principal.)
- Allow for frequent breaks. Staring at a computer all day is really difficult, even for adults. Kids need lots of breaks between lessons. Make sure they get up and stretch- get a drink. Have them do some yoga poses or jumping jacks. And definitely - make sure they go outside and get exercise every day. We all need the fresh air for our mental and physical health.
- Do not get into struggles with your child over school work. If they are resisting - talk with them about what the difficulties might be. Is it certain assignments? Certain times of the day? If they don’t complete the work don’t panic. The more you push with tweens/ teenagers the more you will get resistance. Instead, try to problem solve with them and get their ideas for solutions. Reach out to the teacher for suggestions if you are still having difficulty, and/or check in with the counselor for additional help.
- Support their organizational skills. Help your child manage materials and school supplies. Create homework bins, checklists, clearly posted schedules and a clean, distraction-free workspace. Help them manage time by providing reasonable and consistent routines, setting up a visual display (watch, clock or calendar), creating lists and teaching them how to generate outlines. Spend time with your child practicing planning for upcoming tasks, while rewarding and praising them for their successes.
- Create a framework for learning. Provide your child with a reasonable schedule for getting work done in clearly defined periods.
- Collaborate with teachers. It’s a good idea to ask teachers for help when necessary and brainstorm ways to make remote learning work best for your child. Also, consider asking the teacher how much you should be checking and correcting your child’s work and clarifying what assignments should take priority. Do not forget to tell teachers about success stories so that those can be shared with the larger community.
- Build in rewards. Encourage your child to build in breaks and times for socializing, exercising and enjoying entertainment. The idea is to do a session of work first and then build in a reward with a pleasurable activity.
- Help them get a good night’s sleep. Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep per night. However, most teens get 7 hours or fewer. Not getting enough sleep can affect your child’s mood, as well as cognitive functions including attention, memory and processing speed. Some strategies that help include making sure that the 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime are a quiet or wind-down time. Shut off all electronic devices.
Managing Anxiety Related to Coronavirus
There is so much hope and optimism with the arrival of the COVID vaccine. Nonetheless, many are struggling with anxiety about COVID -19. Here are some tips that may be helpful for managing worry with your children.
- Limit exposure to the news. For your sake, and the sake of your children, it is best to limit your media exposure regarding the virus. While some information is important to helping us feel in control, too much is definitely overwhelming and impacts our well-being. Offer your child perspective - for example- the virus is very mild for most people.
- Spend time together as a family having fun. Pull out board games. Order more puzzles. Take hikes outside. The most powerful way to reduce our stress, and the stress our kids are facing, is by spending time together. Talking. Listening. Laughing. One of the wonderful “silver linings” of the virus is the time we have together.
- Ask questions. Ask your students what they are most worried about. Ask what they are hearing and seeing on social media about the virus, and what questions they have about what they are seeing. Answer their questions honestly, but with reassurance that the doctors are working on medicines and a cure, and everyone is doing what is needed to keep safe- by washing hands and social distancing.
- Label feelings. Help your child label their feelings. As they say - you have to “name it to tame it.” Kids may be more irritable or angry when stressed, and may have trouble identifying their feelings. Remind them that anxiety is a normal feeling when things are uncertain- and it has a purpose- to help us develop strategies for safety. Help your child to identify their specific strategies for managing their emotions. Practicing breathing, using positive self-talk and focusing on positive aspects of their lives are all great strategies. (Have your child check out their school counselor’s google classroom for more strategies and here are a few as well.)
- Help students connect to peers. Adolescents developmentally need time with their peers - so social distancing is very hard on many of them. Try to encourage opportunities to connect through other avenues. The school counselors have groups for remote learners- so reach out if this would be helpful to your student.
- Focus on how to help others. Taking the focus off of ourselves and on to others helps us all feel better. Think about how you might be able to help members of the community who are struggling. Doing shopping for older adults, checking in with neighbors or donating to the local food pantry all teach children compassion at a time of need. Reminding them that they are also helping others by washing their hands and social distancing will also help them feel they are contributing to the greater good.
- Manage your own emotions. Make sure to take time to pay attention to your own needs - recognize your feelings, label what they are, and think about the best ways to cope with them. When you model for your children that while there is uncertainty right now, it is manageable- you reassure them and help them learn how to manage their own feelings.
- Reach out to school counselors, social workers, psychologists and others at school. They are here to help you and continue to work during e-learning. Their contact information is here.