02 Mar 5 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Virtual Learning
In the world of a pandemic, nothing looks the same. Nothing is the same. We are all doing the best we can to stay safe, survive, and have something that looks and feels as close to normal as possible. Parents are trying to maintain their jobs or find jobs to provide for their families while (for some) also dealing with the loss of loved ones. They are also mourning the loss of connection with other adults because we all crave togetherness and friendship. So while we are going through our own issues, we may be overlooking how the pandemic is impacting our kids.
Children, although most are technically savvy, are trying to adjust to an all computer-based world. Although school is not what it used to be for most of us, having time to spend with friends and form strong bonds, it’s better than computer friends. Imagine how hard it is for the kindergarteners, 6th graders and 9th graders entering a new phase of learning without ever being present. It’s a challenge for any grade!
I am the owner and operator of tutoring and test prep, a single mom of two middle schoolers, 6th and 7th grade, and a college senior. I also have friends and family with students in elementary and high school, so I’ve seen or experienced the impact of virtual learning at every level. Things are not ideal for everyone, but for some, it works! Having experienced the ups and downs with my clients and with my own children, here are 5 suggestions I’ve found to be extremely helpful.
1. Parents need to get themselves in a better mental space. We are all burnt out on the pandemic restrictions and have our own mental health struggles because of it. If we are not in a good head space, we can’t be fully available for our kids. Remember what they tell you when flying, you have to put the oxygen on yourself before you can help someone else. Also, if you are of a certain age, you could also be going thru some form of a mid-life crisis yourself. So, seek help for yourself first. Check with your insurance company to see if mental health is covered. If you do not have health insurance or if it’s not covered, find a support group or friends that you can talk to. Know that you are not alone, but your kids need you, so do it for them as much as you are doing it for yourself.
2. Children need support mentally as well. Just like you, kids are having emotional and social break downs due to the pandemic. Seek counseling or other resources for them as well. Once they are able to express their feelings, process them, and get some tools to help them cope, they will be in a better mental space to perform academically.
3. Look for social opportunities for your kids. Find ways to get them around kids their own age. Host socially distanced play dates outside when weather permits. Meet up at a park or other outside event. If in person is not an option, find virtual social opportunities. Kids just need the opportunity to connect with others their age. This is a great time for them to learn conversation skills over zoom or phone.
4. Provide positive reinforcement. We are all struggling and need something positive in our lives. Instead of being angry about what your student is not doing in school, provide praise for what he/she is doing right. Chances are, they will work harder to gain praise than they will to prevent punishment. Not only will it encourage them to do more in school, it will also reinforce or strengthen a positive relationship with you.
5. Find an Academic Coach. If you are not able to provide the oversight your child needs due to your own work responsibilities or other family responsibilities, get help. Find a coach that will check behind your student to ensure work is being completed and provide homework assistance as needed. ULC Educational Support has an awesome program that does just that! They also have a program that offers virtual social opportunities incorporating homework help.