How Can Parents Support Students In Distance Learning?

Here are some ideas for how you can best support students during distance learning.

One of the most common questions we are hearing at the moment is "How can we support our student(s) at home?" Many parents are currently juggling many challenges and the addition of now supporting their child or children with learning is an added anxiety. Students are also feeling that anxiety and are hearing and seeing many world events that may be adding to that worried feeling, not to mention the new routines and learning habits that they are trying to master through a constrained digital format. It's a lot. 

So one of the most important places to start is finding some ways of reducing that anxiety as much as possible. Focus on creating a learning space that is consistent, offers some degree of quiet, and has all of their learning tools near at hand. We also want to slowly grow a student's independence, so while it's great for you to be nearby (think fly on the wall), allow your student to learn through their mistakes and also learn to listen to their teacher's instruction.  We are slowly increasing our learning times as we build stamina for longer sessions, especially with our youngest learners. 

When students transistion to independent learning, practice letting them take lead on what work they should be starting with. Continue to guide them through questions. "What was your teachers instruction?" "What are you supposed to start with?" "What work needs finishing first?" "Where can you find out the answer to that question?"  The more we let students solve their problems, the more self-directed they become. If you are having trouble getting your student to take ownership of their learning, it may be time to connect with their teacher to arrange for a conference with you, the student, and the teacher and create a plan that outlines some consistent practices and expectations.  Taking on "the teacher" role for your own child is hard and sometimes your support may need to look different. 

Finally, while we want to lower anxiety, it's OK to ask our kids to step up. The expectation is that they attend school and this is currently what school looks like. Kids wouldn't show up for school in their pajamas with a blanket over their head. (I'm guessing most of you don't go to work that way either, even on Zoom.) Sometimes the world hands us things that are hard. This is one of them. But we don't give up, we don't turn away from the challenge, we walk forward and give it our best. We build resilience for things to come and we look for opportunities to find joy and improve our current circumstance. 

We look forward to the day we can bring students back on campus and discover new things together. That day is sometime is in our future and we will forge ahead, most times with a smile, until we get there.