As teachers continue to work to make things easier for students, there are also steps that can be taken at home to adjust to the unusual circumstances. The following list includes a variety of strategies with the goal of increasing engagement, motivation, satisfaction and success of virtual learning.
Schedules and Routines
Schedules, whether AM/PM or broken down hourly, can help add the structure that in-person schooling provides. Writing out a schedule or to-do list helps with accountability. In addition, scheduling time for activities that your child enjoys or that are relaxing is just as important as scheduling time to complete homework.
Create a routine to indicate that school is starting and ending each day. This can help your brain associate that it is time to focus, or that it is time to relax or do something enjoyable. For example, when classes are done for the day, try ringing a bell, playing a specific song, taking a walk, changing clothes or engaging in a mindfulness activity. This will help differentiate the time that is for working and the time for being “at home” in your home.
Set boundaries regarding where and when schoolwork can be done:
If your child does virtual learning and homework in their bed and pajamas, their brain may start to associate their bed with learning and working, not relaxing and sleeping. This can create more difficulty with falling asleep and getting good, quality sleep. On the flip side, they may not be as attentive during virtual classes if they’re in bed and their body is used to sleeping in that space. It can also help to wear clothes that they would normally wear to school when they were attending in-person.
Set up a quiet place, free of distractions (to the best of your ability). It may be helpful to fill the area with things that are in a typical classroom: a white board with a schedule, books, educational posters etc. If the space allows, moving from one space or room to another between classes and changing the scenery can lead to increased engagement.
Make the most out of the breaks between classes. For many, it’s second-nature to grab your cellphone, open social media and start scrolling mindlessly. Utilizing this time as a break from screens/electronics, and doing something active will reenergize you and refresh your mind to prepare you to focus on your next class or assignment.
Setting up a reward system can increase motivation and productivity in teens. Based on your teens hobbies and interests, the reward could be a special meal, more time allowed on video games, or extra allowance. For example, if a student completes all assignments by a certain time daily or consistently, they’re allowed choose the movie during the next family movie night.
Reach out for Help
All kids learn differently and some are having extra difficulty because of the virtual aspect of current schooling; whether it is because they are hands-on learners, or because they’re uncomfortable with being on camera. Reach out to a teacher about accommodations that can be made, such as allowing the camera to be off if they’re experiencing anxiety.
If your teen is struggling with the lack of social interaction, set up time with peers to work on homework together over Zoom.
If necessary, seeking additional emotional support for your teen from a counselor may be very beneficial during this difficult time.