As the pandemic lingers, life as we used to know it continues to elude us. One of the most significant adjustments has required children (and parents) to adapt to the challenges of virtual learning. While we’ve become more adept at navigating through online studies by now, one of the things that kids still miss most in remote schooling is the academic and social enrichment that being in a classroom provides.
Remote learning can be difficult for kids in many ways:
- They aren’t in a classroom where everyone is doing the same thing
- They may not feel like they belong to a group
- There may not be a rigid structure to their learning time like there is in a classroom
- They may not feel supported by teachers who aren’t physically present.
- They may not feel motivated to learn or complete coursework
Let’s face it, virtual learning can be tough for kids. In many ways, they have had to take on some aspects of their own education that they wouldn’t normally, despite the presence of an online educator.
How Can Parents Support Learning At Home?
One silver lining of remote learning during the pandemic is that kids can and will pick up new skills in a virtual environment. I am certain that while your child may have struggled with online learning at first, they are now pros at working with virtual platforms. They are probably a little more independent, as well.
Although they have gained new skills, they may still be challenged by other concepts, though. For example, it can be difficult for kids to avoid the distractions that come with learning at home. Siblings, toys, and social media are all close at hand, competing to draw their attention away from their schooling.
For that reason, try to set aside a quiet space in your home that is just for your child’s education. This is their “classroom,” so to speak, so it needs to be a place with good internet or wifi access. Despite distractions, however, don’t close it off, as an adult needs to be able to monitor what the child is doing (and seeing online).
Be sure to check in with your child’s teachers regularly. This way, your child won’t fall behind on coursework and you can help them stay on track. You can also quickly address any negative patterns they may be developing, such as not turning in homework on time.
Keep in mind that kids need exercise and play time to stimulate their minds and release pent-up energy. If possible, encourage your family to take a walk after dinner. Or visit a nearby park, play board games together, or start a hobby that you can take part in together. This also helps children find balance between screen time and real world experiences.
Lastly, encourage your children to maintain contact with friends, but monitor their social interactions. Moving through a cyber world can make people feel anonymous, which can lead to kids bullying others or becoming the target of a virtual bully themselves.
Helping Kids Cope During The Pandemic
In addition to school related support, parents can provide other ways of helping kids cope during the pandemic:
Provide structure – Structure can make kids feel more in control because they know what to expect and when. If you have a smart device in your home, such as Google Home or Alexa, try using it to set reminder times for your child. For example, it can alert them that it’s time to logon to classes, time to do (or turn in) homework, time to get ready for bed, etc.
Also, keeping to the same eating, sleeping, and playtime schedules fosters a sense of security in both kids and adults.
Stay positive – Even if you are very worried about the pandemic or aspects of it, try to refrain from “what if” thinking. You may not realize it, but kids can pick up on their parent’s fears through their tone of voice and their body language, so do your best to stay calm and be reassuring to your kids.
Keep an eye out for changes – During the pandemic, watch for signs that your child is anxious or depressed. Let them know that you are open to discussing their fears or worries. Ask them how they are doing or if they are concerned about anything at school.
Have their sleeping habits changed? Are they not eating well? Do they have frequent headaches or stomach problems? Do they seem newly irritable or withdrawn? These are all signs of anxiety and stress that need to be addressed.
It can help to have kids “draw their feelings” on paper or express them through play. Such activities open the door for discussion and allow a child to let you how they are feeling even if they don’t know how to communicate it to you.
Take care of yourself – Lastly, be sure to support your own emotional and mental health. Many parents have lost jobs and are struggling financially. Some have found their own anxiety levels have increased for other reasons. The interruption of our normal lives and reduced social connections have led to depression in still other parents.
It can help to keep in contact with family and friends virtually. Also, try to get outside for both exercise and as a distraction. Meditate, use deep breathing exercises to help calm your thoughts, and try to limit sensationalized news coverage as much as possible.
If you notice significant changes to your or your child’s eating or sleep patterns, physical complaints, irritability or aggression, or withdrawal from the things you or they normally enjoy, it’s time to consider calling a professional.
We Are Here For You
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression due to the ongoing pandemic, we are here to help. Contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida or call us at 561-496-1094 today.