The school year has started in many areas of the country, and many school districts have chosen to begin the school year online. Whether it’s called Virtual Learning, Virtual School, Online, Remote, or Connected Learning, thanks to COVID our kids taking classes online from home has become the new normal.
The first few days of online learning bring with it all the technology glitches, freezing screens, logins, and passwords that don’t work, and many new platforms for students and parents to be familiar with! This is a major overhaul for adults, especially when the adults put a great deal of pressure on themselves to “home school” and make sure they are doing it perfectly. Not to mention parents who are juggling work schedules and obligations, trying to keep above water.
Kids are experiencing the stress of returning to school with disappointment for not being able to return to the classroom the way it was, with their friends and teachers together. During the last couple of weeks of August as the school year started online for many, social media was covered in images of kids crying in front of their computers.
All of the stress and uncertainty from kids and parents is a perfect storm for battles, tears, arguing, and power struggles.
One thing is for sure: everyone is going to get through making online learning work for them, their child, and their family. It will not happen overnight. But, in time it will happen.
Here are some ways parents can support their children doing online school without losing their sanity!
- Make a schedule
Uncertainty and the thought of what “could be” next is a major cause of stress and anxiety for adults as well as kids! Creating structure and routine in the day by creating and posting a daily schedule is a small and simple task with huge calming effects! A schedule creates a routine and stability. You and your child both know what comes next.
It’s important for parents to remember that they are not the student, their child is. It is ultimately their responsibility to attend their online classes and complete their assignments.
Your student’s teacher (for younger grades) or school (for middle and high school) no doubt provided a daily schedule as well as the student’s individual class schedule. Work together with your student and create a schedule of their classes, breaks, and other responsibilities and post where it will be visible at their workspace.
Creating a schedule together not only creates routine and a sense of stability, but also creates boundaries and expectations for your student about what their responsibilities are, and what is required of them from their school.
- Create a designated workspace
When doing classwork online at home, students can complete work wherever they want. They are not limited to a classroom or assigned seat. Talk with your student about what kind of work environment will be the most effective to help them focus and be productive. For example, staying in pajamas and working on a laptop while still lying in their bed may not be the most effective learning environment.
Decide where they will do their work – at a desk in their room, in an open family space, at the kitchen table, etc. Each family and each student will have their own unique setup that works for them. Try some different workspace setups until you find one that seems to work the best.
Some things to consider when deciding on a workspace: how much noise is in the area? Will the TV be on? What kinds of potential distractions could cause them to lose focus? Do they have headphones to use while watching videos or attending live class meetings? Can they get to the supplies they need easily (outlet to charge their computer, enough light, writing utensils, etc.)
- Get familiar with their school’s online learning platform
Many schools have chosen a specific online learning platform that they will use across the school or district. Look at the program with your child, and familiarize yourself with how they log in, how they access their classes, how they will know what to do each day, what support is available through the program and through the school district. Many districts have a digital learning team with help and resources available to parents and students. Encourage your student to become the most familiar with their online learning platform and to seek help on their own when they run into trouble. Remember, they are the student, and learning to solve their problems is an important life skill!
- Keep in communication with teachers
Every online platform will have a component for parents to access their child’s classes, grades, and ways to communicate with their teachers. Some teachers prefer to use texting apps such as Remind or TalkingPoints to keep parents and students up to date on important announcements. Learning tools such as Google Classroom and Canvas have parent accounts where parents can view their child’s work as an observer.
Be mindful not to become overly fixated on making sure your kids are doing everything and end up micro-managing. Remember, THEY are the student. You are there to support them and help them when they need it. Communication with teachers is an essential part of supporting your student.
- Acknowledge and praise effort
Perseverance and grit are essential life skills required for success in life, and they are essential skills for kids to learn in order to be successful in online learning. They won’t get it perfect every time. In fact, they likely won’t get it perfect most of the time!
Notice when they try again, complete work independently, solve a problem or glitch. Let them know you noticed, affirm, and encourage them. Great support and positive encouragement will go a long way in navigating the challenges of virtual learning.
Starting the school year online, and in some families, choosing a virtual school environment for this school year comes with many obstacles and challenges. Our students will need to use some important and essential life skills to overcome the difficulties they are facing. Parents play a very important role in coaching, supporting, and encouraging their kids through this process.
When everyone becomes frustrated, the situation will escalate. Remind yourself that THEY are the student and allow them to navigate their own education experience.
If you find yourself in constant battles and arguments with your children about school, give us a call! Talking to a skilled therapist can be the best way to create a plan for success that works for your family. We are here to help!
Call us today to schedule an appointment.
940-222-8552 or email [email protected]Teen Social Anxiety