At this point in time, distance learning isn’t anything new. Many of us have been muddling along for quite a while now.
With no clear end in sight, it might be worth taking a moment to analyze how you’re helping your kids make the most of the situation.
There are various pros and cons of distance learning.
There are a lot of challenges to having your kids home from school, but there are plenty of opportunities too. Here are 10 ways to make the most of the situation and help set your kids up for success.
1. Develop a Loose Timetable
Students need structure. Knowing that things will happen in a particular order during the day can be comforting, especially for younger children. So having a schedule for the day is a great idea.
But don’t stick to it rigidly. One of the benefits of being at home is that you can afford to spend a little longer on an activity if you need or want to.
In school, kids always have to go at the pace their teacher sets. With distance learning, they can have the freedom to work at the pace that’s right for them.
2. Make Time For Regular Physical Activity
Sitting at a desk for long periods isn’t good for anyone’s health or state of mind. So take the opportunity of having your kids home to get you all into healthier habits.
Plan some physical activity that you can all share. It’s an excellent way to break up the day and to help you all refocus.
3. Have A Dedicated Learning Space
If you haven’t already picked out space for your child to do their work, you might want to think about doing so. If you have space, just take a moment to review if it’s working. The best area is one where they can easily complete all of their activities and is only used for their work.
If you can’t dedicate one area to being a workspace, try to find a way to change the room’s feel during work time. This could be done by using desk lamps or a room divider. Small things like this can act as cues that help your child get into the right frame of mind for learning.
4. Minimize Distractions
If you’re trying to learn something, then distractions are the worst. Try to create an environment where the temptation to get off task is limited. For older kids, you may need to find a way to explain that checking their phone every 10 minutes will stop them from learning and make their work take much longer.
This doesn’t mean you need absolute silence. You might find your child works best with some background noise. Music with no lyrics is a good option for this. Experiment and see what works best; not everyone is the same.
5. Read More Books!
Reading with young children is one of the best ways to help improve their vocabulary. Kids with larger vocabularies perform better academically. So if your child is at a loose end, find them something to read.
A great way to find suitable books for the student’s level is with a digital library. These are subscription services that give you access to a curated library of books.
If you’re not sure if they’re right for you, make use of the 30 day free trial periods to find the right one.
Reading IQ and Epic! are two good options with free trials.
6. Give Them Opportunities to Guide Their Own Learning
One of the challenges of learning in a school setting is that kids can’t find out more about the things that interest them.
With distance learning, you can encourage your kids to dive deeper into the topics they enjoy and even pick the order they complete their work. This sort of freedom can help your child to fall in love with learning.
If they can learn to enjoy learning, they’ll be in a much better position to succeed in the future.
7. Encourage A Growth Mindset
Many parents and children fall into the trap of believing that you’re either good at something or you’re not. They believe that talent is the most critical factor in determining your success. This is called a fixed mindset, and it can be really limiting.
A better way to think about skills is that they are things you can learn and develop. The idea that you can get better at anything if you apply effort, good strategies, and accept support is called a growth mindset. Kids with this way of thinking will do much better at school.
It’s straightforward to nudge kids towards this idea. For instance, if your child says something like “I’m not good at math”, all you need to add is the word yet – “I’m not good at math, yet.”. That one word represents a huge shift.
8. Remember That You’re Not Their Teacher
If your child is distance learning, then you need to remember that you’re not their teacher.
Your role is not to teach them but to support them. If your child is struggling, it can be tempting to jump in and show them how to do the work.
But, struggling a little isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s how kids learn. So try to think of yourself as a cheerleader rather than a teacher.
9. Learn To Identify Barriers and Have Tools To Deal With Them
Learning is hard. There are going to be things that prevent your child from making progress. Take some time to check in with your child and learn to spot when they’ve run into a roadblock.
The aim here isn’t to solve the problem for them. Instead, offer them tools to get unstuck. For instance, if they don’t understand how to do an activity. Get them to contact their teacher and get clarification before moving on. Without nudges like this, many kids will just stare at a piece of work, feeling more and more stuck as they bang their heads against the proverbial wall over and over.
10. Include Time For Creativity
When your kids are learning from home, it can be tempting to just focus on the more academic skills. However, creativity is a skill. If you don’t practice, you can lose your edge. Getting kids to do something creative in their day is a great way to help them expand their horizons. It’s also a good form of escapism and stress relief, something all of us could use more of.
Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase.