By Kelly Ilhejiawu | Contributor
Going back to school is typically one of the most exciting times of the year. We are entering the fall season dreaming of cooler weather, quieter homes and the enjoyment of the upcoming holiday season. Well this school year has proven to be the exact opposite. Families are at home together navigating work and online schooling, with most days blending together. Many parents are trying to figure out the best way to support their children who are missing their friends and secretly craving the structure that school provides.
Parenting at each age group brings its own set of challenges but adolescence tends to bring another level of stress. The age where children are fighting for their independence and figuring out who they are. School, the place where most children this age are not only learning academics but beginning to learn many life lessons is now closed amid a pandemic, leaving parents to figure out how to manage many emotions and support online learning at home.
In order to help you support your child during this time here are some practical tips to ease some of the stress.
1. Create a space for learning at home
Allow your child to choose a space in your home where they can work and keep all necessary supplies for learning. Give them the opportunity to decorate the space and allow them to make it their own. Be flexible and give them other options of places to work, so they can break up the day.
2. Help your child organize their day and assignments
Sit with your child and help them create a schedule based on the information provided by the school. Many of them will be expected to “change” classes virtually just as they do in school. Help them set a timer or alarm on their phone so they know when to switch to the next class. Some children might need a written visual if this is the case for your child, post his/her schedule in a visible place.
Teach them how to use reminders on their phone to keep track of assignments. You can set an alarm to remind you 24-48 hours before an assignment is due, and also use a desk calendar. Find the best organization system for your child and support them in using it.
Be flexible with scheduling, many schools are still making changes to accommodate online learning.
3. Provide guidance
Allow your child to take control of their learning. Do not try to complete work for them or email the teacher on their behalf. Give them the opportunity to problem solve situations that arise. Show them how to email the teacher to ask for support or get clarification on an assignment. It is ok for your child to make a mistake; this is how they learn. It is key for you to never work harder than your child.
4. Actively listen and provide your child with a safe space to express themselves
During this time your child might experience a variety of emotions. Allow them the opportunity to express themselves. It is ok for them to have a bad day as they are adjusting to a new normal. They may need support putting words to their feelings and guidance on expressing themselves in a healthy way.
5. Stay Active
Make room in your child’s day for some activity. Allow them to go take a walk. Enjoy a friendly outdoor game as a family. Staying physically active helps with your child’s mental health.
Each of the tips provided above are meant to be a framework to help your family think about how to support your child during this time. Each child will experience their own unique challenges during this time. It is most important for you to remind your child they are not in this alone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kelly Ilhejiawu is the director of family library and school services at Children’s Health.