When the pandemic hit, international schools in the Philippines quickly adapted by implementing distance learning. However, for parents, this created a challenge. Adjusting to this new learning mode can be difficult, and parents need to minimize the impact. Some struggled to balance their changing work schedules while supporting their children’s distance learning. But this should not be the case. Help is always available.
Here are some tips on how you can manage your child’s behavior during distance learning. But, again, the key is to support positive behaviors.
When creating a positive home learning environment, setting clear expectations can definitely help. Of course, every child is different, but they all have expectations to a certain extent. Likewise, they felt guided when they knew what is expected of them. So, as parents, please understand that your expectations impact your children’s behaviors.
Set up your child for success by setting clear expectations for distance learning. Sit down and have a conversation with him. Ask him what behaviors he thinks will support his own learning. It also helps to structure your expectations more positively. For example, don’t say ‘don’t miss your class.’ Instead, tell your child to ‘follow his class schedule.’ Likewise, don’t say, ‘don’t interrupt without permission.’ Instead, tell him to knock on your door if he needs something, or he can ask his teacher for help if he gets stuck.
Your child’s direct involvement in creating the learning environment where he knows he will thrive is paramount to his academic performance and success, albeit in distance learning. Since your child has a sense of ownership of these expectations, he is more likely to participate and meet or even exceed the expectations you both set in the first place. Remember that expectations are taught and reinforced, but they should be participatory.
Speaking of expectations, you need to expect your child to do his part, but you also need to provide support and encouragement. It is okay to struggle and ask for help but know when helping is too much. Things that you know your child can do, you have to let him do. If you assist him in every task, he may eventually rely on your help and not do it when you are not around.
You don’t want your child to be dependent. Instead, you want him to become independent by being proactive with his own learning and practicing a lot. Your presence counts, but you might want to distance yourself if it breeds overreliance. Be there when your help is needed and asked for. Otherwise, let your child accomplish things on his own.
Just because your child is enrolled in distance learning doesn’t mean that you will allow him to stare at his computer screen for six hours. That’s not how distance learning works. In fact, teachers themselves purport to build variety in learning materials, strategies, activities, interactions, etc. These include offline learning experiences that a child can do independently or with other family members. As such, downtime doesn’t necessarily equate to more screentime than what is necessary.
peaking of which, screens are some of the biggest temptations that students doing distance learning have to face. It is important to keep devices away from the child’s workspace as much as possible. It may mean turning off mobile phones or putting them in a designated place in the meantime. This way, your child can focus on online discussions, answering modules or exams, and accomplishing tasks. You may offer rewards for best behaviors while reminding him that there are consequences to violating the rules.
At the start of distance learning, your child may not like certain subjects or topics. You can build a bridge between what your child loves and what he doesn’t. For example, if your child is not fond of reading but likes watching football games, buy a book or graphic novel about the sport or his favorite football player. This will spark his interest in the game and reading as well.
One of the upsides of distance learning is the possibility of personalizing the learning experience. However, remember that the learning materials that the school sends are designed universally—these are not intended to accommodate your child’s needs. Although, of course, the teaching staff and school management are trying their best to match learning materials with the children’s needs as much as possible.
Further, you know what your child needs to thrive and support optimal learning. For example, your child learns best through visuals. You may coordinate with his teacher and ask if she has presentations or graphs, infographics, or video links that your child may visit and watch as supplements. Another example is if your child is having trouble writing. You may ask the teacher if video responses are allowed.
Focus on what a child is doing right, not on the things that he is doing wrong. Don’t be too quick to point out mistakes. Strive for corrective feedback, but refrain from using generic phrases such as ‘Nice work!’ These are empty praises, and your child will think that you are saying that because you want him to hear them. Instead, offer praise based on expectations. For instance, tell him ‘I admire your courage in asking for help from your teacher. That’s a good way to take responsibility for your learning!’
When you notice and recognize and verbalize the positive actions, you reinforce the behaviors you want to see in him. Also, genuine praise can bolster your child’s confidence, not just his academic performance. Your purpose should be to emphasize positive interactions, so you also need to minimize corrective interactions. They can demoralize and demotivate your child if you overuse corrections. Motivational talks will boost your child’s confidence academically and personally.
Don’t forget that children are also resilient. When faced with challenges, including academic challenges, clear expectations, positive reinforcements, and a safe and emotionally supportive environment can help them succeed academically. This is true for both physical and distance learning.