Are you and your children ready for more online learning?
There’s no question that the Coronavirus pandemic has changed almost everyone’s lives in some way. Maybe you know someone who contracted the virus. Or, someone who has lost their job as a result of the pandemic. Maybe you, yourself, have faced some struggles – even if it’s nothing more than the loneliness and uncertainty that can come with isolation.
Children haven’t been immune to the effects of the pandemic, either. In fact, children and teens can actually be more susceptible to the stress and uncertainty of situations like these. That kind of stress can lead to a variety of both physical and mental health struggles, including anxiety.
We’ve already talked about how to prepare your little ones for the school year, especially if they’re going back in-person. Everything from making sure they know the rules to practicing proper hygiene can help to keep them safe this year.
But, many schools are offering remote learning this semester, or hybrid versions that keep children at home some of the time. While there are positives to virtual learning, it can be a struggle for children who have a hard time staying focused or need regular interaction.
So, what can you do to make sure your child is prepared for virtual learning? How can you keep them engaged when they have to sit in front of a computer all day?
Let’s go over a few helpful tips you can put into place right away.
Have a Separate Space for Learning
It’s easy for children to get distracted in their own homes. They are comfortable there, all of their belongings are there, and if they don’t have the right “setup” for school, they might be engaged in other things throughout the day.
Ideally, you should set up a room that is specifically meant for your child’s schooling. But, that isn’t a possibility within every home. So, just make sure to set up a space away from any distractions. Even if it’s your dining room table, that will work! The important thing is to make sure your child won’t be tempted to do things like watch television, talk to other people in the household, or find themselves distracted by what’s going on in the house.
In addition to having the right space for learning, make sure your child (and everyone else in the home) knows that during certain hours of the day, that child is in school. They shouldn’t be bothered by other family members, and it isn’t time to do things like run errands, play outside, or interact with siblings.
Your child should also have a routine. Think about all of the things they would have to do if they needed to go to school in-person this year. They would have to wake up around the same time each day and go through a morning routine. That might consist of things like taking a shower, eating breakfast, etc. Virtual learning should be no different. Make sure your child is getting up consistently at the same time, going through their morning routine, and then going to their designated learning space within your home just as if they were going into their school building.
That routine doesn’t just stop in the morning. A nighttime routine is equally important to make sure they can wind down and get to sleep at a decent hour. While it’s easy to think the rules are different because they’re home, keeping things as consistent and familiar as possible will make things easier on everyone.
Make Sure They Are Healthy
Scheduling an appointment with your child’s doctor is always a good idea at the start of any school year. However, it’s especially important this year when the threat of a virus is still looming.
Regular checkups are a great preventative health measure. They will also help you to keep track of your child’s growth process, and any possible ailments you should be looking out for, as a parent. In addition to a medical checkup, getting your child’s eyes checked can also be beneficial. Kids who struggle with their vision may:
- Have problems focusing
- Have sleep issues
- Squint to see far away objects
- Give up on a piece of homework because it’s “too hard” when really, they’re having trouble seeing it
By taking your child to an eye doctor, you can learn if they might need glasses in order to see properly. If you want to save money on frames, check out Eyeglasses.com for a wide variety of inexpensive designs.
Encourage Physical Activity
Children between the ages of 6-17 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Unfortunately, many kids already don’t get that much activity when things are “normal”. Now, thanks to virtual learning, many kids are finding themselves stuck in front of a computer all day with very few options to stay active.
So, it’s up to you to make sure your child gets the physical activity they need each day. School is only in session certain hours of the day. Once their schoolwork is done, encourage your child to get outside and play. Take them to the park, go for a walk around your neighborhood, or grab a ball and toss it back and forth in the backyard while talking about how they’re doing in school.
It might be difficult for your child, knowing they can’t play with their friends the way they are used to in light of the pandemic. So, make physical activity as fun and entertaining as possible for them each day. It’s okay to remind them that this won’t last forever. But, for now, finding different ways of staying active is important.
Be Open With Them – and Encourage Them to Do the Same
As stated above, it’s easy for children and teens to feel incredibly stressed because of everything that’s going on in the world. What’s worse, however, is the fact that they may not know how to fully process everything or work their way through it.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure the lines of communication are always open with your child. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they’re feeling on a regular basis, or ask if there is anything they want to talk about.
They might feel nervous, shy, or even embarrassed about their own feelings. So, you might want to initiate a conversation by talking about your own. While it’s important to offer your child reassurance and not to scare them, it’s okay to use age-appropriate language to let them know how this pandemic is making you feel. In doing so, your child might start to open up more about their own feelings and concerns. When a child knows they have someone to talk to, it can offer a huge wave of stress relief.
Teach Them Life Skills
Though your child will be learning all day through some type of online school system, you can also use this opportunity to teach them some important life skills.
Some kids do better with hands-on learning. Unfortunately, sitting in front of a computer all day doesn’t provide much stimulation for those types of learners. If you are home and able to work with your child, you can incorporate some of the things they’re learning into everyday tasks around the house.
For example, if your child is struggling with fractions in math, try baking a cookie recipe with them. They’ll have to learn about measurements and fractions for all of the ingredients. Having a visual to help them will make it easier. Plus, who doesn’t want a warm cookie reward?
There are many different ways to incorporate what your child is learning into life’s everyday scenarios. Don’t be afraid to bring your child’s lessons to life in that way.
Encourage Safe Social Interaction
One of the reasons this pandemic has been so stressful for kids and teens alike is due to the isolation it has caused. Everyone needs to feel loved and cared for, and everyone wants a friend. Under normal circumstances, most kids have circles of friends to play with, do things with, play sports with, etc.
If your child hasn’t been able to see their friends in person for months, it can take a toll on their mental health.
It’s okay to still have some concerns about safety and social distancing. But, if you know your child is missing their friends, why not schedule a Zoom meeting with everyone at once? Or, try getting creative and create a socially-distanced get-together for them in a local park, so they can talk.
You may not think that your child seeing or spending more time with their friends would have anything to do with virtual learning, but it absolutely does.
Your child needs to be ready for eLearning and everything it entails. Remember, they are trying to get used to something completely new and foreign, just like you. So, not every day will go perfectly. Not every day will follow the schedule you set out. Do the best you can and encourage your child to do the same. If everyone can commit to that, we’ll all get through this together.