As a new school year rolls around and begins to take shape, many schools have opted to operate on an E-Learning or Hybrid model conducting education through virtual platforms. While effective in its ability to keep students enrolled and up to date in school, E-Learning can also be challenging for a variety of reasons. Students are trying to juggle classes, learn new technology skills, time management, isolation from peers and teachers, and fatigue that comes from working on a computer. It’s important to note that not every student may be struggling with the same issues related to E-Learning. Some students may find that they lack more interest and motivation than anything else as it can be difficult to remain focused when working from home. Others may be struggling with communicating with their peers and teachers through the virtual platforms and are lacking the ability to articulate the supportive services they need.
So, how do you support your child during this unique school year? Listed below are some tips for supporting your child during this transition and new school year.
- If you have the room, create a designated workspace for your child. This helps to provide a bit of a separation between a school space and the rest of the home, even if it’s just a different chair, it can help to reframe and establish that it’s time for your child to be in school.
- Along with creating a designated school space, aiming to maintain and cultivate a school routine helps students feel a sense of normalcy. Routines can include waking up at the same time each day, eating breakfast, and practicing an extracurricular activity after the school day is done.
- Assist your student in keeping track of their assignments. This could include reviewing the course material at the end of the day or encouraging your child to write their assignments down, whether that be on their computer or in a notebook. What can be challenging for some students, especially at the start of E-Learning, is locating their assignments as some may be posted in different spots or assigned during class time. It can be overwhelming to retain all the different information throughout the day and what is expected of them given the current exhaustion or fatigue they may be feeling. Zoom fatigue is real!
- Speaking of fatigue, staring at a computer screen for 8 hours a day can leave students feeling withdrawn, unmotivated, and tired. Physical fatigue from sitting all day and remaining inside contributes to a lack of motivation and increases the emotions students are feeling. Incorporating stretch breaks during classes, a 2-minute mindfulness exercise, or even just standing up to have a 5 minute screen break can help circulate blood flow, rest the eyes, and add a burst of energy to their school day.
- While physical health is important, it is also necessary to provide emotional support to your child by checking in on them regularly. Yes it’s important to ask about assignments, grades, and provide help with homework or teacher communication, but it is also beneficial to check in on how your student is feeling. Asking questions about how they feel about being at home, how they are feeling about being away from friends, what they miss about in person school, and what has been challenging or maybe what has been easier about online learning could be a place to start. Asking questions that engage the whole school experience and demonstrate to your child that you care about how they are doing with this new routine. Normalize and validate their feelings and experience, whatever that may include. Providing your child with empathy and encouragement by listening and reminding them that this school year is hard, a new experience, and that it’s okay to slowly transition into a new routine. Ultimately, your child just wants to know that you are there, to care for them and listen to their experience.
This time is challenging, unexpected, and often frustrating. However, by working to support your student, cultivate a sense of normalcy and routine, and listen to your child’s needs, we can all have another great school year together!
Written by: Chardyce Kott, MSW