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  • Writer's pictureKristy Clements

How Parents Can Help Prepare Students for Success

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen teachers, students, and parents thrust into the world of distance learning. With little or no prior experience to lean on, many parents have done their best to transition to this “new normal”. Many students and parents are struggling to adjust as they operate through trial-and-error to find success in what sometimes feels like a losing battle.

However, there are small steps that parents can take to begin to take back the control that distance learning has wrestled from daily life. Here are 10 strategies for parents that will help them set their students up for success while hopefully ensuring they maintain a grasp on what little sanity they may have left.

1. Set aside a designated workplace.

If you are anything like me, your house probably can get a little cluttered. It’s important to have a space designated for schoolwork that is organized and ready to go when your child needs it. Place it away from other distractions, but close enough to keep an eye on the progress. Remember, “the mice will play when the cats away”.

2. Familiarize yourself with the learning platform.

You are not the student, but that does not mean you don’t have a little work to do. Make sure you understand the tools and technology that your child is using. Being able to quickly trouble shoot an issue can save a lot of time and tears. Spend some time navigating through the learning platform and becoming familiar with where everything is located. Schedule time to check-in to the classes to make sure nothing is being overlooked.

3. Help your child build a schedule.

Children thrive on structure. Transitioning to a distance learning environment can often make children feel like they are left alone to fend for themselves. This can leave students feeling uneasy and anxious. Help alleviate this by sitting down with your child and building out a schedule. I suggest making time on Friday afternoon to build out a schedule for the next week. Discuss how much can be done each day and the benefits of spreading it out over the week as opposed to waiting until the last minute.

4. Don’t forget to go Old School.

Just because your child is accessing their assignments on the computer does not mean they don’t need traditional supplies. Think of how you feel when you get a new pack of post-its or a brand-new fine tip pen… It can’t just be me! Stock up their work area with plenty of paper, pens, notepads, and other fun supplies.

5. Maintain (and even increase) breaks.

Distance learning requires a lot of screen time. Make sure that your child is giving their eyes a rest by scheduling in breaks. One of the benefits of distance learning is that it can be broken up across the day. Encourage students to take a rest, eat a snack, and even run around in the backyard. It gives everyone a chance to relax, even you!

6. Set small goals.

Sometimes distance learning can feel so overwhelming. Setting small, manageable goals can help children feel more successful and have a more pleasant experience. Help your child see small wins and celebrate with then when they achieve them. By chunking a longer lesson into smaller bits or breaking a larger project into steps, it makes assignments more manageable and help build confidence in your child that they can do hard things. (Even if they still need your help picking their clothes off the floor.)

7. Over communicate with everyone.

Let me say that again. Over communicate with everyone. Communicate with your child, the teachers, your spouse or significant other. Communicate until everyone is on the same page, and then communicate again. Many parents are afraid of bothering the teacher but modeling good communication will help your child in the long run. Most importantly, encourage your child to check their school email daily and communicate through sending emails on their own. This is a skill that they will need in tomorrow’s workforce, but many students need work in this area.

8. Encourage independence.

Distance learning can be a scary, unfamiliar venture for everyone. After you have set your child up for success, let them test out their wings. If they ask you for help, fight the urge to solve their problems for them. Instead, help them brainstorm solutions or next steps. Use this as an opportunity to develop a sense of independence and critical thinking skills.

9. Find a support system.

We may be finding ourselves alone a lot more lately, but that does not mean we are in this by ourselves. Other parents and students are struggling with this transition too. They have the same concerns, frustrations, and anxieties that you do. Many minds make light work. Find a tribe to share ideas and experiences with so that you can learn from one another.

10. Keep a positive attitude.

Students often reflect the attitudes and ideas that are shared at home. If you approach distance learning as a new and exciting experience, you child will also. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Be sure to stay as positive and open to distance learning as possible and focus on the benefits. A positive attitude is essential on the road to success.

Online learning does not have to be the enemy. By implementing these ten strategies, parents can begin help their students to manage the new expectations and take control of their learning success.

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