Written by Honey Covin-Weeks, RN, MSN, PMHCNS-BC
School may be underway, but it’s still far from ordinary.
As we face a Fall still impacted by the coronavirus, many parents are dealing with more anxiety than usual. When the virus forced lock downs and moved our children from the brick and mortar school room to online learning, most of us, including myself, did not think we would have to think about another school year with so many questions and so much uncertainty. Part of the problem with uncertainty is that it tends to increase anxiety, and the higher our anxiety goes, the worse most of us function.
Below, we briefly discuss some ideas to help your student do well with online instruction. However, before we tackle that I would like to address a topic that I believe is causing some parents needless anxiety. Online instruction can be a poor substitute for in-person instruction. But it can work. Let’s take a few deep breaths now. As a mental health provider with a background in child development and education, I can tell you that our children not being able to make up what they might be missing from in-person instruction is just not something that we need to worry about.
There have been many historical examples of education being interrupted and then resumed, and children are able to make up missed skills or concepts at a later date. Indeed, sometimes it might actually be more helpful for students to tackle topics later than they are usually taught in today’s schools. As a person with a background in remedial education and both adult education and pedagogy, I have seen firsthand that children (or even adults) who have had their education interrupted—regardless of the reason—are able to learn the material they missed in a fairly rapid fashion.
Now that I hopefully have allowed parents to set aside any anxiety that children will be forever harmed by not going to school for in-person instruction—let’s talk about what we as parents can do to help our children get the most out of online instruction.
- Kids do best with structure. Have a set time for doing schoolwork. It is even better if we create a schedule for learning at home that is similar to the schedule they have at school. For example, we work on math from 8:00 to 8:50AM, and English from 8:55 to 9:45AM, and so on. It is important that work that cannot be completed in this time is then completed “after school” (i.e. from 2 to 3PM.)
- Hold kids accountable. Ask what they have been working on daily. Request a summary of what they have learned in each topic daily. Letting your son or daughter know that you will be asking this sets the stage for them attending to instruction better.
- Keep notes. Place a notebook by the computer where your son or daughter can jot down any time they need clearer explanation. By writing down in real time what is confusing them, they can then send an email to the instructor and let him or her know exactly where any confusion may have arisen. The clearer the student can be about what they do not understand, the higher the likelihood that the teacher can explain the topic in a way that better connects the student’s prior scaffolding.
No one knows when students will be able to go back to in-person instruction full-time. However, we can decide not to worry that children not sitting in a brick-and-mortar school building will never achieve their educational potential, or will not go on to college or trade school, or be able to be self-supporting. I am not totally convinced that in-person school is the ONLY way for children to be successful. If that were the case, we would not see so many home-schooled children attending competitive colleges. Our children can be successful with remote learning, and we can help them be successful in this format as parents.
If you are looking for more support for your child, please request an appointment online in Artesia or Carlsbad.