By Lisa Edwards, Parent Coach
As we finish the school year with most of our nation’s children in Distance Learning, we first breathe a sigh of relief, but then we can reflect on what we have learned from this experience. Although many parents experienced fighting, tantrums, unmotivated children, or even flat out refusal, there are a few good things that came from this all. And if we capture that positivity, it will better prepare us for what may come in the fall. So, what should we have learned from Distance Learning, besides day drinking? Here are the top five positives to take away.
5 Things you should have learned in distance learning
- Being a teacher is hard…and much different than being a parent – Give yourself some grace as a parent, and for your child. Teaching is a skill that comes with experience, and once you start thinking of yourself as a teacher instead of a parent, it will change how you look at your new role. You are there not to force compliance, but to help engage them in learning. How do you help your child fulfill their curiosity and continue to want to learn?
- Independence Skills – One skill to foster is independence. Children are in a class of 20-30 students and one teacher is unable to help them at all times. It is an awesome skill for students to know how to engage on their own. Are they able to play on their own? Are they able to work quietly on an activity? If they run into an issue, are they able to problem solve on their own? Or even skip the parts they may need help on but continue to work on other parts until they are able to get support? These are all skills that you can help teach your child. Start by letting them be more independent at home and in play. Here is a great article to help build those independence skills.
- Organizational Skills – Help your child determine what works for them when it comes to organization. Where should they keep all of their school items so that they can find them easily the next day, or that it is out of the way from their toddler brother who wants to color all over their stuff? What helps them track what they need to get done and by when? My children became overwhelmed with their Middle School classes because they were getting so many assignments at once . They would forget about something, or thought they had turned something in when they hadn’t. We found a good organizational strategy for them was to simply make a “to do” list every day. They wrote down what they needed to do in each class and then they got satisfaction in crossing it off. Other strategies that may work are a calendar or planner to write down assignments. The goal would be to have your child be the one responsible for this organization and figure out what works the best for them. I have found it difficult not to ask them many times throughout the day, “Did you get your math done? Or you Science?” I have had to learn to step back and I try to limit myself to one or two questions/check ins a day instead of my normal 15 that I started with.
- What you need to let go of – Let’s face it, the last few months were overwhelming. Sometimes we need to know how to prioritize and what things we need to just let go of. Students need to be able to identify this as well. Are all homework assignments a priority? Does everything need to be completed a 100%. Now is a great time for children to help identify what is important to them and their learning. For instance, some of my child’s teachers gave different options for projects, or how they could take their learning to the next level. I wanted my kids to dive into all of these projects but it was too much. So they were able to determine what their own priorities were and really dig into that learning. They were engaged, and happy. I had to step back as a parent and accept their priorities over mine. As a parent, you also need to let mistakes happen or low quality work at times. Children need to be motivated to do these things on their own, and the more we allow them to do this, the more motivation we will see come out of them.
- Self-Discovery – Wow, what a time for self-discovery. I think we all learned something about ourselves, both child and adult. This created an opportunity for life to slow down for some, and for others a time of intense stress. How as individuals do we handle this? How as a family unit are we dealing with everything. During a time such as this, we need to all find what internally motivates us. For a child, what motivates them to do their homework, or to complete tasks with the family. This is a time for them to really lean into their real passions and explore. As parents, we should support this. What brings us joy during this time? Perhaps it is art, music, baking, connecting with friends. We have found creative ways as a family to support these passions and build them more into our daily lives.
Although you may be wishing for the return to normal, and you hope that next fall brings your child reconnected to their teachers and classmates, we just don’t know what will happen. I believe we will be creating something new for our students and we should be excited about how that can look. These are the true skills I want my children to learn, creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, independence, and reflection. Distance learning provides new opportunities for my child to truly practice these skills, and I am grateful for that.
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