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Overcoming Challenges with Distance Learning

ONE. MORE. MONTH. You’re almost there! Only a few weeks left until you’re finished with this year’s homeschooling experiment and we know you’re tired. Recently, we spoke with dozens of parents from Colorado to answer their most pressing parenting questions and it’s not a surprise that their child’s behavior surrounding distance learning continued to come up again and again.

If you’d rather watch than read, we have provided links to the video answers.

If you’re rather read, here are the footnotes: 

How to Help Kids Frustrated with Distance Learning

Question:

  • How can I help my 7-year-old work independently, accept help and reduce her frustration and anxiety around distance learning?

Suggestions:

  • Developmentally, this age group struggles with finding the balance between “What can I do?” and “How well can I do it?” They are easily overwhelmed with the expectations they have of themselves. They believe they should be able to do XYZ on their own and when they can’t they become overwhelmed and shut down. This can also look like temper tantrums (yes, even in older kids!)
  • To decrease overwhelm in your child, help set them up for success. When they open their google doc to look at that weeks’ work, it is overwhelming. Instead, grab a calendar or planner and divide the work into daily tasks.
  • Limit the amount of time they work on school per day and agree on specific hours of the day that they will be working on school. Be realistic with it. For a child in early elementary, I wouldn’t suggest more than a few hours a day. Set expectations on when you will be available to help them and when they are expected to work independently.
  • If they don’t get their work done, that’s ok! Email the teacher and let them know what you are working on and tell them you will continue to chip away at it.

Keeping Younger Children Engaged in Distance Learning 

Question:

  • How do I support a 4-year-old who isn’t excited about mom being teacher or the activities being assigned in the pre-k program?

Suggestions:

  • Her pre-k teach is correct! Do as much or as little as you can without worrying about it. Let go of some of your expectations and let your child show you what he/she is interested in learning about.
  • Developmentally, the best way preschoolers learn is through PLAY!
  • Learning can look like a lot of different things, so it’s ok to let go of traditional activities and consider the skills they are building during play and everyday activities as a family. Relationship skills, emotional skills, and exploring their own interests are great things to be focused on during this time.

Engaging Older Children in Distance Learning: Addressing Emotions First 

Question:

  • My 6-year-old is resisting distance learning by not participating, crying, and not speaking up during “zoom” sessions. He recently asked, “Why can’t doctors just make COVID go away?”

Suggestions:

  • This child is dealing with a lot of stress, unknown and frustration – his behavior towards distance learning is a result of this stress.
  • It’s important to respond to the emotional need first. Name the situation and name the child’s emotions. “I agree. There is a lot of information we don’t know about COVID and it’s frustrating, but doctors are working as hard as they can to help find treatments, cures, and give us guidelines for how to keep us safe and healthy. I know this is hard and things are different right now but I am here for you.”
  • Name the emotion behind the behavior first and support what comes next.

Should I be doing more?! Engaging Toddlers While Staying at Home

Question:

  • How do I keep my 2.5-year-old engaged and stimulated while stuck at home? Can the lack of stimulation and change of scenery be damaging to her development? 

Suggestions:

  • The answer is different for every child. Some children may need more or less depending on what they are showing you (for example if the child is being clingy, throwing temper tantrums, etc. this might be an indicator they need a bit more stimulation).
  • One idea is to create a “toy rotation” or find toys that you haven’t played with for a while. New toys can help with the stimulation.
  • Go for a “treasure hunt” outside and search for specific things 
  • If child seems content playing independently and using their own imagination, they are probably doing just fine!

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