As parents, I think we can all agree that remote learning is rough on a family. Parents have jobs, kids are home alone, we need to find childcare for younger ones, and life just keeps going, even though the world is in a state of chaos. Here are some tips that I would give to parents who are frustrated with school and with their kids! I know this advice is easier said than done, but I promise, it will make your life easier in the long run.
- Be Consistent
Check in with your kids every single day. And it has to be more than, “Do you have any work?” I know we love our kids and want to trust them, but a lot of kids will reply with a simple, “No.” Then life goes on and you find out a week later that there are multiple missing assignments. Sound familiar? I’m a teacher, and I fell into this trap, mostly because I deal with this all day, and I am tired of it by the time I get home. However, my son knows that I am going to check in with him every day at 4:30. It started out rough because he didn’t want to do the work and would make every excuse to avoid it. After so many 4:30 meetings, he started to realize that there was no way out of doing the work, so he started doing it during the day. The check-in became a lot shorter and a lot less stressful.
2. Get involved
Ask a teacher friend, do your research, or find someone who understands how school works. Be familiar with the programs that your child’s school uses. My school uses Canvas and Powerschool. The teachers post everything on Canvas, so if your child’s school uses this and you have no idea how to use it; I would definitely start there. This can get a little confusing because a lot of teachers run their Canvas pages differently and some teachers will accept late work and some won’t. But this is the BEST way to figure out what is going on in each class. Also, get excited about the work. Look at it as a way to bond with your child, not a chore. My son is learning about the Industrial Revolution, so I am using this as an opportunity to learn about it too! If your child is assigned a book to read, go ahead and read it too! I know we are all busy! I am a teacher with three kids, and in college courses, but we have to make time to get involved! Also, don’t be scared to contact the teacher to get more information. Remember, we are all in this together.
3. Be Patient
Be patient with your child, your child’s teacher, and yourself. There are a lot of moving parts, and you are dealing with partial information from a lot of different resources. You are expected to rely on a teenager to give you information on what is going on with school, so you probably aren’t getting the complete story. After all, they are teenagers. Try to remember what it was like to be that age. I have realized that when I have a simple conversation with my kids about what is going on with school, and I ask questions, I get to the heart of the issue. Once I get there, I can work toward some action steps to problem solve.
4. Make it Fun
I always find it interesting when my kids say school is boring or that they hate reading. I have learned that they don’t really hate school or reading, but if they can find a way to get out of it, they will. Sometimes they just need a little push or a different way to think about something. When my 1st grader doesn’t want to read, I will open up a picture book and just start reading it aloud on the couch. Before I know it, she is curled up next to me listening to the story. It’s not as easy with my son, but if I’m excited about something, then he seems to get a little more excited about it too. Or if I ask genuine questions about what is going on in school, he will participate in the conversation. But, that goes back to getting involved. I have to know what is happening in his classes to ask good questions.
5. Keep it Positive
We can acknowledge that this is hard for everyone. Sometimes, we forget that they are just kids, and their worlds have been flipped upside down too. If we are struggling to get through this pandemic, imagine how it feels from the eyes of a child. I have told both my kids, “I know this is hard for you, and it sucks. But we have to do our personal best. I’m here to help you through it.” These simple sentences go a long way.
Sometimes we need breaks, and the kids do too. No one wants a grumpy teacher, parent, or student. There is pressure on teachers to make sure students are learning, there is pressure on parents to do teaching at home, and there is pressure on kids to do well in school. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t worth the stress and fighting it can cause in a family. If it is too much, take a break. Do something fun and come back to it.
You’ve got this!