Our two kids have been online learning since March. We’re relatively lucky. Our kids are age 11 and 14, making online learning easier than with younger primary age kids.
I can’t imagine how hard is to do online learning with a kindergartner or a Grade 1 student! Parents struggling with online learning and little ones, you have my respect!
In the past few months, most parents have had some first hand experience supporting their child’s learning. At the very easiest, supporting their learning likely includes getting your kids ready and sending them off to their Zoom meeting or online classroom. For some parents, that’s meant sitting down with the kids at the supper table to do daily lessons together.
While we’re definitely not experts, we’ve learned a lot in the past three months about supporting our children’s learning.
Set up a dedicated study area
Imagine if you were suddenly asked to work at home, but expected to do all your work at the kitchen table. Meanwhile, family members chatted and ate meals at your desk, the TV was blaring, and you heard every sound in the house. That sounds like a recipe for zero productivity.
Your kids are really no different. To stay productive and focused, they’ll do best in a dedicated work area. We set up separate study areas for each kid in our downstairs living room, but other parents have set up a desk in the kids’ bedroom, or even in the laundry room! As long as the study space is relatively free of distractions, and a pleasant place to work, it should do.
Have the study area set up with whatever the kids will need, but that’ll likely include a tablet, computer or laptop, and school supplies like pens and a notebook.
Find a time that works
Find a time that works for both you and your child to work.
Our kids aren’t morning people, so we settled on starting school work around 10:30 am. That lets them eat breakfast, play with the cat, and wake up a bit before starting schoolwork. It works for us parents, too, since it’s early enough that we still have the later afternoon for family activities and household chores.
Make sure they’re fed, rested, and exercised
It’s awfully hard to be productive at work if you’re hungry, tired, or feeling restless and cooped up. The same goes for your kids.
If your kids are having trouble focusing, take a little time to do an assessment, and see if they need a snack, if they’re over tired, or if they need to get outside and run around a bit.
If your child is feeling frazzled, consider learning to practice mindfulness with your kids.
Keep up to date with your children’s assignments and due dates
Kids are still learning time management skills (including older kids in high school), and the flexible schedule of online learning can be a real challenge.
Our kids have an online learning portal, so we make sure that we sit down with them every Monday morning, and see what assignments are due that week. We follow up through the week to see how they’re progressing.
For most kids, you won’t need to micromanage every minute of their day, but it’s a good idea to know the assignments are due, and the dates they are due. This way, you can see they’re managing their work to avoid time crunches, procrastination, and late assignments.
Have reasonable expectations, and communicate them clearly to your child
Every kids is different. Some kids can sit for hours and work on an assignment online, while others do best working for smaller chunks of time, with breaks in between.
If you’re OK with your kid taking breaks throughout their study time, let them know. It will likely reduce their stress a lot! Just follow up to make sure those breaks don’t turn into skipping more time than you’d wanted.
Some kids will struggle learning online and do better with an in person environment. If your kid fits into that category, have a chat with them about it. Tell them that you understand that online learning is a challenge, and that you just expect them to try their best. If you can, help support them by working with them one-on-one to complete tasks.
Keep the lines of communication open
Chat with your kid on a regular basis to see how they’re feeling about learning. Are they frustrated? Do they feel the workload is too light or too hard? Sometimes just letting your kid vent can go a long way towards preventing problems.
Get help if you need it
As parents, we can’t solve all of our kids problems. Every child has that struggle writing an essay, or finishing an assignment. They may need professional help from an online professional service.
For learning languages, we love DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone. Read our Rosetta Stone for Kids review here.
Do you have any ideas for supporting your child’s learning at home? We’d love to hear them now!