On episode 14 of our podcast "One Day You'll Thank Me", my teen-cohost (my daughter) and I are flying solo, and discussing virtual learning.
We are both deeply involved in virtual learning right now because Anna is 100% remote learning and with my work as a therapist, I have worked with dozens of families over the past month experiencing virtual learning as well.
So we decided to discuss the top tips to make virtually learning as successful as possible for parents and kids.
Anna’s teenage perspective is that virtual learning is going to take time to get used to and everyone (students and teachers) are still learning how to adjust to it. She feels it is confusing sometimes, because you can’t just walk up to the teacher when you have a question and get an explanation- you have to figure it out on your own, ask a peer, or email the teacher. The frustrating part is you have to just wait wondering how to proceed.
We want to help students and parents understand that it is ok, and actually important, to email the teacher and tell them that you are confused or need further explanation on assignments. What I am seeing in my clients (and Anna feels herself), is that they are hesitant or even afraid to email the teacher. They feel they will be in trouble or did something wrong, or that they are bothering them. The teacher needs to hear feedback if the material is confusing, so they can course correct. If they do not get feedback, they will assume that everyone understands. If they know that kids are struggling, they can better adjust.
We also share and discuss 5 specific tips and strategies that can be implemented at home, to help support the overall virtual learning experience:
1. Have a designated space, if it is possible in your home. That space is known as school space, it’s respected, materials are all there, there are fewer distractions there, there is consistency.
NOTE: Little kids K-2 are wiggly so it is good to move them from different spots of the house - maybe a stool, then in a comfy chair, then at the table, etc.
2 . Kids need a defined beginning part of the day - preferably doing school work in the morning. So they would get up, eat breakfast (very important), get dressed in fresh clothes, and any other school morning routines- then start the school day.
3. Technology - prior to quarantine, tech was fun - video games, TikTok, and many more. Now with virtual learning, kids need to do harder tasks, be more attentive, and have self- management. Now tech time doesn’t look the same anymore. Parents, your kid needs your help. It is important to prioritize academic based tech first (especially kids that have flexible schedules) - school first and then when it’s done, the fun technology can come. Our kids can get tech overloaded and burned out. If they engage in “fun” activities before starting the school day, it can deplete their well and then they find themselves struggling to stay focused and concentrate, etc.
4. Breaks - it is really important to take time away from the computer, especially involving movement, walk around (ideally outside), shut your eyes from the computer, ideally not tech breaks on technology to play Fortnite or go on SnapChat.
5. MOST IMPORTANT TIP: this is for those parents that are working from home that have set up a workstation, and their kid is right next to them at their school station. What happens is whenever the kid is within arms reach of mom and dad and they get frustrated or have a moment of uncertainty, they reach out to mom or dad for help. What I am seeing is that they are reducing their own ability to problem solve dramatically, becoming dependent on the parent. Then if the parent is not able to answer right away or pay attention to them, they may start pounding their hands on the desk, bursting into tears, turn off the computer and refuse to go back online, and other ways of acting out.
NOTE: If the assignments are so difficult that you have to help them and don’t say anything, the teacher will not understand that the assignments are outside of your child's skill level. It is important that they work on the assignment independently, this way the teacher can see how they are actually doing and make adjustments if needed. Also, you can make them aware that you will be checking in at different times, if they need you, empowering them to handle situations on their own and independence that is age appropriate.
I want to highlight that of course every child is different and impacted by many variables such as age, personality, ADHD, anxiety, or even a little sister walking around. So, even though we are giving some general recommendations for virtual learning, we know that each situation is very different. If you find that you need extra support in these areas, please reach out.
To listen to the podcast episode, go HERE.
To learn more about Dr. Tara Egan, visit HERE.
To learn more about Dr. Tara Egan's therapy practice based in Charlotte, NC, visit HERE.
Learn more about Dr. Tara Egan's online media course called "Manage Your Family's Technology & Social Media" here.
If you'd like to try BARK, a dashboard that monitors content on your child's technological devices, please use the code QSG7JBW to get 20% off. If you'd like to try Circle Home Plus to set guidelines around when and where your kids spend their online screen time, use THIS LINK to get $20 off. I use both of these tools to protect my children.