Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, schools are scrambling to set up infrastructures for online learning. Such an effort can also be stressful for parents and their children as they do their best to adjust to this new digital landscape.
That can be particularly challenging for kids who are currently in early childhood education. The latter encompasses the formative years when a child rapidly develops in several key areas (e.g., cognitive, physical, emotional).
But there are ways to make distance learning much more bearable and conducive for children. Below are a few suggestions.
It can be challenging getting children to stay put and focus. Teachers can certainly have a tough time achieving that in the classroom, what more the parents at home?
One way to address this is to create clear cut boundaries between certain activities. For instance, when it’s time for studying, send kids to a specific portion of the home where all their books and materials are.
Next, create visual cues to indicate that it’s time to switch to learning mode. Get them a special table and chair specifically for study or online classes. Create a visual planner or schedule for them, so they know what to expect for the day or the week.
Additionally, eliminate distractions that can get in the way of the learning experience. Keep toys, gaming devices, and all sorts of clutter away from view.
While creating boundaries and eliminating distractions are essential, don’t enforce them to the detriment of your child. Employing a rigid strategy can quickly burn children out.
They will typically encounter complex equations and difficult tasks and along the way, all of which can give them a hard time. That’s all part of the learning process.
And when they start feeling frustrated or when you see them not making any progress for some time, by all means, allow them to take a time out. If their school is implementing online classes, reach out to the educator and ask for their consideration. Explain the challenges your child is experiencing and work out a solution.
Tell children what they’re doing right and reward them
And when children overcome a particular learning challenge, make sure you let them know that they did an excellent job.
Children continuously need positive reinforcement from adults to stay motivated and engaged. Consider implementing an array of incentives, from simple check marks or stickers to food treats or extra playing time.
Positive feedback is essential for children to get a better sense of how they are faring in class — albeit an online-enabled one.
But don’t wait for children to surmount a difficult challenge before you provide feedback. Make sure you’re giving them incentives, nudges, and words of encouragement every step of the way.
Make time for social connections
Social distancing protocols can take a massive toll on children’s mental well-being. That’s why parents need to help children keep in touch with their friends from time to time.
Seek out other parents. Work together to find ways for your kids to interact outside of the bounds of online classes. Seeing their friends’ faces and talking to them can help children further develop their developing social-emotional skills.
Additionally, positive social interactions with familiar faces can help mitigate the digital risks that children face in the online world.