Many parents are concerned about their child having to adapt to distance learning. Every child will no doubt be challenged by this situation and will need to develop new skills to best meet the academic demands that come from virtual classes.
However, this challenge is not insurmountable. With the right support and environment, you can help nurture the mindset and skills they need to overcome it. Together, you and your child can help your child develop the essential skills for online learning.
The best foundation that you can help your child build is the skill of self-regulation. Many children would have learned this best in a physical classroom, where they would observe the rules in school being played out by their peers, and reinforced by teachers. These would have given clear indications on how they should conduct themselves in class.
Help your child by setting up something similar at home. Have a conversation with your child and ask them where they struggle with regulation — what do they get distracted by, when do they get bored, etc. Help them identify distractions and give them an idea of what they should do when they’re losing focus.
Try to make this system work for them and encourage them to begin regulating themselves rather than relying entirely on your supervision. One good way to do this is to help them set small goals for themselves, and celebrate their accomplishments by the end of the day. This helps give them a clear idea of what they’re working towards and gives positive reinforcement for accomplishing their tasks for the day.
For many students, they learn how to be accountable for their time when they enter college. Before that, your child would have been reminded of the time by the school bell or being told it was time for class. Your child may be struggling with time awareness and management because of this. It’s not easy to learn how to manage your time and log in for online classes without a reminder on your own.
You can help by giving them tools — digital or analog — to remind them of the time. Writing their schedules on calendars, and keeping a clock visible on their desk can give them the reminder they need to build their time skills. Encourage them to take charge of the process by encouraging them to set their alarms for class, or helping them make their schedules outside of school hours.
It can be difficult for children — especially younger ones — to keep track of their things. Just as what they would have experienced in a physical classroom, they need physical structure to help them with their organizational skills. By creating a structured space that is their own, we help them start working towards responsibility and self-efficacy when it comes to their belongings.
Help them choose a space they want to have their online lessons in. Once they choose an appropriate place, have them designate that corner as “school” by setting up their school supplies and devices. This will help them understand that they are responsible for this area, and should keep it neat as they did with their desks at school.
You can also help them learn how to organize their work digitally. Younger students may not know how to use organizing tools in online drives or on their laptops and tablets. Show them how to make folders, how to color-code, or other organizing tips that works for them. After this, let them try to sort the files on their own, which allows them to absorb the lesson.
One of the biggest challenges that children are facing with their online learning is the lack of motivating factors. In school, it may have been easier for them to stay motivated due to the social aspects of physical classes — an aspect that is lessened in virtual classes.
You can take steps to deeply connect with your child and keep them motivated for their next class. Try asking them what they are learning, what happened in class, if they like their teachers and classmates, and other similar questions to get them talking about their day.
Allowing them to talk about how their classes are going can give you some insight into their mood and how they’ve been participating in school. It also shows that you care about their progress, which can motivate them in their lessons.
Advocating for oneself is a difficult task even for some adults. Your child may struggle to speak for themselves during their virtual classes. This is because there are no organic and natural opportunities for interaction anymore, and asking a question is not so easy.
Your child will need this skill to ensure that they are learning enough in school, but they need additional support from you to build it up. You can do this by providing space and time for your child to speak and ask you questions. This can be as simple as a chat over dinner.
Giving them time and encouraging them to speak up on things that bother them reinforces the idea that they should mention things that they are concerned with. To reinforce this idea, you can give them the confidence they need to say that they need help with something. With confidence, they won’t hesitate to raise their hands in class and ask their teachers a question.
Learning and growing in a digital setting means that your children are encountering new challenges. These challenges are uncharted territory for young students, and they may be struggling to navigate their way through them. However, with the correct guidance, they can gain the five essential skills for online learning and equip themselves to overcome these difficulties.