During this time of educational inconsistencies, a vast number of children are now be educated at home with a distance learning approach to pedagogy. Often children, when uprooted from their normal day-to-day routine, start to carry additional stress, accept regression in learning patterns and practices, and begin to wonder about their futures. Today’s children need survive and thrive techniques. They need to be loved, listened to, supported, and have their posed questions answered, in a suitable manner of their age and/or level of understanding. Strategies need to be implemented for a child’s needs of structure, education, exercise, social contact, appropriate leisure time. Above all, children need to know that they are going to be okay.
Here are some strategies for the at-home student in your life:
- Create structure and use tools that help you stay organized. Make a routine for your child and stick to it every day. Definitive times for activities, a specific place for schoolwork to be completed each day, and a child-centered family schedule, that is easy to comprehend and age appropriate for your at-home learner. This schedule is also a bonus to regulate your child’s sleep patterns, as there is a set time each day for going to bed. Example: After 10:00am snack time, I complete my math lessons.
- Break tasks into manageable pieces. Example: If your child does not enjoy reading, try reading a chapter, taking a “mind break” (something that does not involve the activity your child was previously doing), challenge your child to a quick 30 second jumping jacks competition, and then start reading again. Remind your child to be proud of their accomplishments, even the small ones.
- Simplify and organize your child's life. Make sure that your child has everything they need to begin working from their designated learning spot. Example: Having pencils sharpened and plenty of paper, easily accessible and within their reach, can simplify their at-home school day.
- Limit distractions. As difficult as this may be in these challenging times, children need a learning space that is free from distractions. Example: Obtain two sturdy folders and staple them together, making them into one large folder partition. Your child can work behind the partition, but they can also look up to ask you a question, if need be. As a parent or guardian that is working beside their child or children, mimic this less distractive workspace. This will allow your child to view you as also working/ learning in your own space, which is similar to that of a classmate seated next to them.
- Encourage exercise and let peer groups know when your available. Example: Plan a social distancing approved activity, such as a foot race, an obstacle course, or a scavenger hunt with another family or a few classmates. Remember this is fun and promotes a healthy active lifestyle, which children crave. Reminder: Keep the rules light, encourage positive feedback, be supportive, and have fun!