How to Help Your Child Adjust to Online School Learning

2nd March 2021

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Thousands of students across the UK have had to stream lessons and take their exams online for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit last year. This left educators, students, and families alike scrambling to make sense of the new situation. 

A Wired write-up on education’s move to digital talks about how the simple “onlinification” of face-to-face lectures didn’t work as well as originally hoped. 

This resulted in students struggling to keep up with lessons, especially when you take into account the several other stressors, distractions, and adjustments that the pandemic has brought.

Parents have had to step into new, more active roles in their kids’ education. And as the country continues to grapple with the virus, it looks like online learning is here to stay. 

That said, there are steps you can take to help your child adjust to this new learning arrangement:

Encourage exercise and movement

There’s a wealth of evidence backing the importance of movement in children’s ability to focus. In fact, exercise is so important that countries such as Finland have devised teaching methods that comprise 45 minutes of seat time followed by 15 minutes of physical activity. 

Even if it’s just for five minutes at a time, performing exercises like jumping jacks or stretching can already help stimulate your child’s attention.

Learn with your child

Never before have you had this much access to your child’s education. This gives you a unique opportunity to learn with them, and this may even be especially beneficial since interaction and play are key components of learning for young students. 

You can start by picking out relevant courses from our GCSE English and GCSE Maths lessons, and then go through them with your child. 

It may be difficult for students to navigate through challenging subjects on their own, so you may have to take the reins for continued learning even after virtual classes.

Adjust your schedule as needed

Home becoming the setting for almost every possible daily activity is not an experience exclusive to students. You’ve most likely had to start working from home as well. 

So, it’s important to be flexible to a certain extent when it comes to schedules and routines. 

As lifestyle writer James Gonzales points out, you need to define “productivity periods” within the day both for you and your child. Consider working with your child on coursework at a time when your child is most engaged and alert. 

It’s possible that these periods may be staggered throughout the day, so be gracious with time management and understand that, just like you, your child needs breaks and could work more efficiently at a pace they’re comfortable with.

Provide immediate positive feedback

By having to learn online, children are missing the important aspect of in-school learning that is receiving positive reinforcement and reassurance from teachers. This encourages them and motivates them to keep learning. 

You can mimic this at home by providing immediate and positive feedback every time your child completes an online learning task or every time revision proves successful. 

Positive feedback could be as simple as putting a checkmark, giving them a star stamp or even rewarding them with extra playtime before bed.

Remember that positive feedback is also a celebration of their victories, which, quite honestly, you share since you’re playing a huge part in your child’s learning.

It’s indeed a challenge to adjust to an entirely new way of learning, but that’s not to say it’s impossible for your child to learn effectively. 

Optimise your child’s learning by helping them adjust to their new everyday reality, and by now being part of their learning team.

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