For many, it has been almost a year since schools switched over to virtual learning. Some students have found themselves to thrive in this environment while others have found it extremely challenging. If your child has been struggling to keep up with their school work from home, know that they are not alone. This is a huge change and requires a different kind of approach from both parents and kids. It is important that your child believes in their ability to succeed and sees the value in learning, even when it is a challenge. Here are a few ways you can support their online learning and motivate them to succeed!
Start by making sure that your child’s learning space has them set up for success. Natural lighting and a clean desk can make for a more positive atmosphere. If they are easily distracted by noise, see if there is a room that they can have to themselves during school hours. If you are working from home and believe you can both efficiently work in the same space, set up a spot for them next to you. This can make it easy for them to ask you questions and stay focused knowing they are being supervised. Since digital devices can easily become a distraction for kids, we recommend putting them away during study hours or monitoring their activity to ensure they are focusing their attention on their teacher or assignment.
Your child may also benefit from a change of scenery every now and then. This could be as simple as sitting in a different area of the room or choosing a different spot in the house for school work versus homework. Encourage them to organize all of their school supplies in a way that keeps them motivated and inspired to succeed. If they are young, you can set them up to where they feel as if they are playing “school”, making it a more enjoyable part of their day. Finding the most effective learning environment for your child may require some trial and error but it can drastically affect their work ethic and ability to focus.
When children are faced with failure, they can feel discouraged and lose any ounce of motivation that they had prior. When it comes to academics, it is almost guaranteed that your child will face these types of challenges. In preparation for these obstacles, choose an effective way that they can ask for help. When they feel stuck, figure out the most constructive way to continue without getting overwhelmed or frustrated. Create a learning environment where failure is encouraged because it means you are challenging yourself. Assure them that they can succeed even if they feel as if they have failed.
Setting tangible goals for your child will keep them motivated as they can visualize themselves reaching these goals and succeeding. For younger children especially, short term goals are more effective than long term ones. Even if there is one big long term goal, try to set small ones along the way. This will keep them motivated throughout the year as you are ensuring that they feel successful when reaching each small goal. It can also be helpful to set up goals that are consistent with those of the teacher. This will make it easier to track your child’s progress and reward effort. We encourage you to include your child in conversations about setting these goals. This way, they can take responsibility for both setting and obtaining their goals.
When setting goals, it can be beneficial to have a reward system in place. However, it is important to ensure that your child’s motivation is not dependent on their expectation of rewards. It can be helpful to provide these rewards based on effort rather than results. For example, a week of cooperation translates to effort rather than the result of an A+ on a test. These rewards should be small and can be consistent or sporadic. They can be as simple as getting to pick what the family makes for dinner or getting to play outside during their break. The goal is for your child to eventually see the value in working hard and succeeding in school without external rewards. Since this may take some time, a simple reward system can result in healthy study habits.
We can all agree that this time at home has brought about an even deeper appreciation for teachers. Online learning has proven to be just as challenging for parents as it is for students. Most parents don’t have the time or feel equipped to homeschool their children. Sometimes some one-on-one time with a teacher can make all the difference. Even if it’s 15 minutes in the morning or once a week check-in between your child and their teacher, this time can help set them on the right track. They can ask questions, get clarity on assignments and feel ready to take on the week. This one-on-one time can also be helpful for you to have a better understanding of the expectations of the teacher so that you can assist your child and provide them with the support that they need. When it feels like you have exhausted all possible options, never be afraid to ask for help.