With only a few months left of 2020, the distance learning scenario isn’t entirely new to us. We’ve gained more information about what works for students online and what doesn’t. What is true is that families are taking on much more responsibility for their children’s learning than ever before. And for online education to be successful, parents and caregivers need support– that’s what we’re here for.  

As parents, caregivers, and teachersit is important to be prepared to support our kids in their social, emotional, and academic growth during the pandemic. To better assist in student engagement, below, we’ve gathered some strategies to help parents and caregivers keep their children focused, interested, and learning independently from a distance.   

Setting Up for Success 

Create A Schedule That Best Supports Your Child’s Needs 

Some benefits come with online, asynchronous learning, and it can be beneficial for many students. For example, online learning can provide students flexibility and allow them to create a schedule that best suits their needs and way of learning. 

Little kids need more structure so if you have a younger child, let them know what to expect at the start of every day. You can create a visual schedule for them to follow that also allows them to work independently. For older children– a calendar, planner, or digital organizer will do well in keeping track of what’s happening every day.  

Allow for Frequent Breaks Between Lessons 

In normal circumstances, students receive frequent breaks through activities like recess and class period changes. Mirroring these same practices at home is critical in ensuring that students can stay focused during their online studies. Allow them to get up, move their bodies, take fresh air in, or eat a snack. Also, consider creating a reward system– it can help separate lessons that require long periods of sitting at a desk or in front of a screen.  

Staying Focused  

Encourage Self-Regulation  

Talk to your children about the connection between bodies and brains and what happens when your child may feel frustrated, excited, or sad. This sense of self-regulation and awareness will help them your child recognize and manage their emotions.  

Keep them close  

When it’s hard to keep your child focused, consider keeping a close eye on them. You may want to consider setting up non-verbal or one-word cues to get them back on track. However, this may be different for some families. Depending on your current circumstance, it may not be possible to keep your kid in sight all day every day, but it’ll be much harder to keep them on track if left completely unsupervised. Try to make sure that you or another family member has them close enough to keep an eye on them as much as possible.   

Encouraging Ownership and Effort 

Follow Your Childs Interest  

If there are gaps in your child’s school day, remember that whatever your child’s interests are– animals, video games, arts, and crafts– can be used for learning. Use these activities to help them better understand academics that they may struggle with or to keep them interested in specific topics.   

Get Input 

When deciding on how to structure the day, ask your child what they prefer. Try to incorporate some of their choices into the plan. For example, if math is the most challenging subject for your kid, would they rather do it first or last? Why? Check-in with them regularly to ensure that you’re optimizing the day as efficiently as possible. Also, be sure to communicate with your child’s teacher and encourage them to self-advocate for what they need.    

Managing Motivation 

Presentation is Everything  

How you present an activity makes a huge difference in how your child feels about it. For younger kids, whenever you can, frame tasks as games to make them more enjoyable. Challenge your kid to a throwing contest of tossing clothes in the right pile or let them use snacks and treats as manipulatives for math problems and eat them when they’ve finished the question.  

For older students, sometimes teens seem to have a “bad attitude” towards their schoolwork, which is a way of masking insecurity, boredom, or anxiety. They’re often helping that someone will help them through it, even though it might seem the opposite. Stay calm, not taking things personally, and ask how you can assist them or, better yet, if they need extra one-on-one time understanding a subject with their teacher.   

Acknowledge and Encourage Good Behavior  

While parents can’t expect their child to instantly excel at online learning, it’s more important to acknowledge when they are excelling and positively reinforce their behavior while doing so. 

When your child achieves a task, be sure to provide them with positive affirmations and encourage them to continue what they’re doing. This is a beneficial tactic for students of all ages and will create a supportive learning environment that motivates them and can lead to future success in their studies.