One thing that pandemic has changed forever is how we learn and operate. Though the memories of the adversities may fade away with time, what will forever be etched in the minds of our children is the year of missed school.
Welcome to Remote Learning for kids – the new norm of COVID era. As the school closed their doors, Zoom and Microsoft meetings welcomed children and teachers into the virtual world to explore an entirely different mode of learning.
While online learning has been around for a while, the pandemic really tested the efficacy of this model that could eventually be the future of all learning – starting from kindergarten to college and university levels.
Though virtual learning prevented a whole academic year from going void, it left many families grappling with the change. The transition from in-person school to this new online model was nothing but chaotic and capricious.
With no precedent in hindsight, many families, if not all, struggled to adapt. There is a great deal we can learn from families where children thrived in this online model of learning. Many of the shy, hyperactive children in fact did better than in classroom teaching.
So what is it that makes virtual learning yay for some families and nay for others? Are there any specifics that can help embrace this new model, while schools still remain shut, and thrive?
Well! We think yes! Little mindfulness and the will to respond can go a long way in making remote learning work for your kids.
Remote Learning Tips For Parents to Help Children Thrive
1. Set a Schedule
There is a reason schools follow a schedule. Children thrive when they know what is expected of them and have a handy schedule to follow. This limits bursts of boredom while providing enough opportunity to indulge in free-time.
That said, try to structure a home schedule that replicates and follows conformity of school without being inflexible.
Let’s say your kid’s online school starts at 9:30 in the morning. In this case, it is reasonable for your child to get up by 8:00 instead of early school wake-up time.
Keep your expectations clear that they should be ready and be done with their breakfast by 9:00. This gives flexibility to your child as well as assigns them responsibility to manage their time prudently and not cut slack.
After-school study time can be managed in more or less the same fashion with in-person tuitions replaced with mutually agreed on in-house activities. The key is to have a planned schedule and remove any ambiguity surrounding the routine.
A great way to design a doable schedule is to mutually discuss and include your child’s suggestions in his/her daily planner. Keep the schedule open to changes and stick it somewhere where your child can easily see it.
2. Create Assignment Menu
Completing assignments with in-person school is easy, as children are often given repeated reminders about the up-coming assignments. But with remote learning, most schools provide a weekly flow that children are expected to follow.
To make it easier for your kids to keep up with the school assignments, create a weekly assignment menu in-line with the school flow and, again, place it somewhere they can see like a pin-up board.
This will greatly ease your job of reminding them of their forthcoming assignments and at the same time, it will work at nurturing ownership.
However, we do recommend keeping your child’s temperament in mind and following up with friendly reminders once in a while.
3. Make Learning Material Available
Virtual learning is vastly different from in-person classroom learning. It requires different tools to aid the experience. A fidgety Wi-Fi or a shared device can act like a deterrent to online learning.
If possible, assign a dedicated tablet with a stable Wi-Fi connection to your child to make virtual learning hassle-free.
Along with this, make sure the tablet has the necessary software like PDF reader and PowerPoint installed to make the virtual learning experience smooth for your kids.
4. Set-up a Learning Space
If your child doesn’t have designated study space already, now might be the time to set it up. We are not suggesting a fancy room but simply a quiet corner that is free from the usual chatter of the house. A folding study desk is a great option for smaller spaces.
Besides providing a conducive environment for study, a dedicated learning space also helps build up the mood and takes care of your child’s posture.
A dedicated learning space promises better focus, fewer distractions and above all eliminates possible conflict and stress related to learning from home.
In case you already have a learning space for your kids, it is time to think about setting up a home science lab to encourage your budding scientist.
5. Make Space for Small Breaks
Online learning can be exhausting. While the classrooms offer multiple and varied opportunities for children to break away from learning, virtual learning does little to help children take these essential brain breaks.
As suggested by the author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World, Devorah Heitner, children need frequent breaks while learning and most kids can learn optimally for only 20 minutes before needing a break.
As a parent, you need to identify signs your child exhibits when in need of a break. Simple solutions like letting your child play with a toy or listening to a song, after she has completed her work and is on mute, can immensely help your child in increasing concentration & focus for the next class.
Treat these breaks like the classroom breaks that kids take for chatting with each other.
6. Let Them Move
The last thing you want as a parent is your child sitting in front of a screen, attending that zoom meeting equivalent to school hours. We cannot stress enough on how tiring and mentally exhausting it could be!
To combat it, allow or rather encourage your children to move between class breaks. Let them go out of the room to catch some fresh air or simply run up to the kitchen to fix a refreshing lemonade.
Nature Walk is a great activity too for kids to connect with nature and feel recharged.
The idea is to make them move. Remember, sitting is the new smoking!
7. Create Opportunities for Physical Activity
Make up for the loss of physical, in-person school and personal interactions by providing ample opportunities for physical activity.
Children who are physically fit are not only healthier but also have better focus and concentration levels.
Research suggests that children 5 years and above need at least an hour of moderate to rigorous physical activity, everyday.
As pandemic has put severe restrictions on social interactions, limiting outdoor games that children play together, it is time for parents to bring some physical activity home.
A skipping rope, hoopla-hoop, agility ladder or training cones can be great additions to home workout and make exercising fun for kids.
8. Prioritize Learning Interests
Pandemic is a great time to rethink your child’s learning style and his inclinations. Instead of pushing your child to score straight A’s in all subjects, let them prioritize subjects they love and devote more time to those.
Think of it as a hybrid of personalized and school learning!
This could greatly aid learning and make it effortless. Helping your child explore their interests will give them an edge and motivation to drive their learning process, eventually helping them excel.
9. Help Them With Their Emotions
Pandemic has affected everyone and emotional health has taken quite a hit. It is ok for your child (and you!) to feel overwhelmed and under the cloud.
Talking about the changes that pandemic has brought and openly discussing how your children feel, can help alleviate anxiety and keep negative emotions in check. Make sure to strike open conversations with your children and allow them to sulk.
Children should not be coaxed into being happy all the time. Rather, parents should encourage them to feel a host of emotions.
Allow kids to feel their emotions and help them choose an acceptable way to express themselves.
Having a safe space to express emotions, without being lectured or judged, does wonders to emotional health and encourages children to communicate openly with their parents. This paves way for emotional resilience, making children emotionally healthy.
10. Help Them Schedule Their Assignments
Let’s admit that virtual learning does come with its chaos! Many students have been left stumped with all the schoolwork and extra projects. Help them align their school assignments and projects based on priority.
Don’t let multiple assignments bring your child down. Instead, help them break them into smaller tasks and work on them sequentially. This helps in taking the mind off multiple things and focusing on one actionable at a time.
12. Set Realistic Screen-Time Limits
Screen time limits have surely gone for a toss with this new model of learning. Many families worry about the increased screen-time and try to compensate this increase by taking away the so-called “TV Time” or “Game Time.”
While we do understand the concerns regarding the escalated screen-time, taking away your child’s fun screen-time will not really help! Rather you will land up with an grumpier child, who for no fault of his will view this restriction as a punishment.
What can, however, help immensely is setting a realistic screen-time and structuring breaks between them. Like a screen-free break for 2 hours between online learning and T.V time can give your child’s eyes necessary rest and bring back his smile.
Doing eye exercises in between those breaks will help in strengthening eye muscles and bring down eye fatigue. Most of these exercises are pretty simple and take less than 10 mins to practice.
12. Bring on Offline Activities
One of the best ways to negate for increased screen-time is to add interesting screen-free activities. Use unplugged time to add activities that excite your kids. It could be dancing, painting or even starting your very own garden!
Look for child’s interests and try adding activities that align them. Lockdowns are a great time to cultivate some serious hobbies.
13. Stay Connected With Teachers
Pandemic is the time to partner with teachers and make a cohesive effort for your child’s learning progress. Instead of focusing on your child’s grades, focus on the learning outcomes.
Teachers and students are under immense heat to navigate the remote learning challenges successfully. An empathetic parent, who communicates and works together with teachers, can greatly ease these challenges.
Make sure to communicate what your child feels about online learning and how things can be better. Like if your child gets distracted after a class, you can request your child’s teacher to give him a short break, akin to a water break, before the next session.
Similarly, you can work out with teachers where your child needs to put extra effort and if there are any behavioral patterns that may be affecting your child’s learning.
These times are not easy -that’s one thing for certain! But patience, empathy and a positive outlook can make things far brighter and better. Lastly, always remember, “Tough Times don’t last, Tough People Do”.