While most things this year in 2020 have changed dramatically for parents, how remote or hybrid school looks, may be one of the changes that is more prevalent. Most kids and teens are doing online learning, and families not only have to navigate every family member being at home, but parents are having to learn how help their child’s schooling more intimately than before, some even while working from home themselves. With these new and unknown circumstances come a series of stressors and challenges, but we at Health and Healing Therapy are here to help!
Our therapists have worked together to create a series of 25 tips detailing ways that you can help your child thrive at remote learning while helping yourself, too. Check out the list below.
1: Ensure your child is in a comfortable spot while they learn – use a bouncy chair if they struggle with sitting still.
2: Busy hands improve concentration. Purchase and use some fidget toys your children can use while having to pay attention.
3: Carve out a specific quiet learning space for each child to work in, avoiding high traffic areas. It’s vital to have a place to work in and focus, so make sure your kid has one, too!
4: In that learning space, allow your child to choose and decorate their own workspace so they can claim ownership. This is like how adults personalize their offices, or like how you might have at your own home desk!
5: Utilize cardboard dividers to help physically block things that can be distracting in their space when taking a test or when they need high concentration.
6: While it’s good to have a workspace, it’s also healthy to have a change of setting. Let your child sit at different places so they can move: use a bean bag chair, stationary bike, rocker board, rocking chair, etc.
7: If possible, purchase comfortable headphones for your child to use while in class so they can focus on learning instead of potential discomfort.
8: Taking breaks for recharging is healthy and lets you return to work better than ever. Allow for “daily recess” 1-3 times per day for everyone in the family (kids, teens, and parents). Unhook from electronics and go outside; allow children to have free play or family activity play.
9: Try to develop small group learning times with neighbors or friends to help with engagement and enhance connection and peer relationship building. Whether or not the meetings involve homework, it’s important to still maintain connections and have social time!
10: Discuss and develop a daily plan and routine with your family so everyone knows what is expected and what each person has to do for the day.
11: Also discuss and create a plan specifically with your child! Listen to their feedback and share your own to make improvements and signify to them that their voice is important.
12: Right now, there are so many things that we can’t control. Focus on what you can change, plan for what you are able to, and let go of the rest.
13: School is important, but so is mental health! Focus on your child and pay attention to needs outside of just educational by focusing on their social, emotional, and health needs, etc. Build these aspects into their daily experience whenever possible.
14: Treat e-learning similar to in-person learning: be an advocate for the support and services your child may need to be successful. Things will be different and this will present new obstacles, but set them up to do their best by helping them get what they need to learn.
15: Set limits for your child like they normally had in class. Feel free to say, “if you aren’t allowed to do _____ or don’t do _____ at school, then you cannot and we don’t allow it here at home.”
16: Try to focus on and share what you’re noticing your child is doing well in adjusting to this school year. Reflecting on your child’s strengths and resiliency will be more effective in helping them (and you) continue to build on what’s working right and to feel confident and empowered during a difficult and strange time.
17: Practicing meditation or mindfulness can help your child develop helpful mental tools and allows time for them to co-regulate. If you are working on your own mindfulness, meditation, or anxiety management skills, practice with your kids!
18: A helpful reminder for you – no, this is not normal. This is hard, and you’re not the only one who is struggling. Doing your best is all you can do, and it is enough and okay.
19: Prioritize structure and other helpful behaviors where you can. Make sure you and your kids have breaks. Get outside. Drink water. Get enough sleep. This stuff makes a difference.
20: If there are many family members working/in school at home, make daily schedules as to who the best adult or sibling is to go to for help if there are issues with school, work, or the internet. Your child may need assistance throughout the day, so give them the knowledge they need to resolve an issue before it comes up!
21: Note that kids are using their devices for social connectivity more than ever now. Be mindful of screen time, but also know you may need to loosen your restrictions!
22: Get up and move during breaks throughout the day! Do some stretches or easy exercises (jumping jacks, squats, skip, jog in place), take a short walk, or go outside and get fresh air.
23: Familiarize both you and your child with school resources. Many districts have a page designated for remote learning which may help to answer any questions you have or direct you on who to ask. If you can’t find the page, ask your child’s teacher!
24: Transcripts and subtitles can be very helpful! If your student has difficulty focusing during audio and video instruction, turn the “transcript” button on and have them read what the teacher is saying. If you’re on Zoom, you can also record the video session to go back and rewatch.
25: Ask your child questions about school besides, “How was school today?” You can talk about school, but be specific! Here is a link of some questions you ask your child at the end of their school day.
Hopefully you can find something helpful among these tips! If anything, remember that you are not alone in the difficulties you may be facing. We are all entering into a new “normal,” and you are coping as best you can. Have faith in your parenting instincts, and believe in yourself!
If you, your child, or teen are struggling with all the challenges with how COVID-19 is impacting your mental health, we are here to help support you and your family. Counseling and Therapy services often help reduce the anxiety, stress, and depression that often increase when we experience difficulties. Contact us.