The shift to remote learning now impacts many families, especially school-age kids. This is a big and sudden change for our little ones. They will naturally have some challenges to overcome, such as difficulties in adapting, focusing, and absorbing lessons. In our Christian households, what can we do to support our children in virtual school? We at Christian Style gathered some expert tips that you may want to try at home with your distance-learning child.
1. Keep a routine.
Did you know that keeping a routine has several benefits for kids? According to the experts at Aha! Parenting, a routine contributes to the sense of security of children, as it provides some predictability and normalcy to their day. It also helps them develop their self-discipline. These benefits are even more significant now that our children are suddenly plunged into a drastically new normal.
So as your family transitions to virtual learning, keep a schedule for your child, just as you would with regular school. Of course, learning sessions may be shorter, but what's important is that their activities occur at a consistent time of the day, every day. Don't forget to factor into the schedule your child's playtime and prayer time.
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2. Dedicate a learning space.
Various child education experts tell us that having a dedicated space for studying is vital for a youngster. It helps them focus on the task at hand, and minimizes confusion about the purpose of the space. By contrast, if kids are left to study on the living room couch, for example, it can be hard to separate the 'TV time' mindset from the 'study time' mindset.
The learning space doesn't have to be an entire closed-off room. It can just be a desk that's set up away from household distractions and noise, and appropriately decorated to create a stimulating environment for your young one. Even better, have your child help out in the decorating of their study space. This will boost their sense of ownership of the space, letting them feel that this area is theirs to use.
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3. Read aloud to your child -- and around them.
The educators at Northshore Christian Academy emphasize reading aloud as a valuable parenting activity. "When you read books aloud, you stimulate your child's imagination [and] help them develop language and listening skills."
The experts also advocate reading to yourself while your child is around. "If your child sees you reading for fun, they will be more likely to follow your example. Getting your child hooked on books early on will cultivate a lifelong love of reading."
4. Encourage active participation.
Looking at video screens can lull our kids into passive viewership, especially without the physical presence of teachers and classmates in the room. This is why Annemarie Rivers of Youthworks reminds us to stir the students' participation.
"Videos and live streaming have their place but let’s not slip unthinkingly back into ‘I’ll talk, you listen’ modes of teaching. We know that asking questions, discovering, working things out for themselves and talking about what they’ve learned are effective ways for children to remember and learn rather than just listening or reading. With a little more careful planning, we can plan activities that encourage children to teach themselves and each other."
5. Keep communication lines open.
Janet Wolfe, who heads the IDEAL School of Manhattan, advises us parents to engage our children with open communication.
"Ask open-ended questions about how they are feeling. What are they excited about? What are they concerned about? [...] Let them express their fears and concerns openly. We assume children know we as adults are there for them, but open conversations are simple and natural reminders of the security we as adults can offer in difficult times."
6. Be kind to your child.
With the mental and emotional weight of the pandemic, educators these days aim to make their virtual classes more digestible and less stressful for students. Parents may want to follow suit. We must keep in mind that our kids are experiencing a kind of restlessness, too, due to diminished social interactions and being cooped up at home.
While we try to keep them active and engaged, we'll need to be more patient if their attention spans have shortened or if they don't internalize the lessons right away. The UNICEF also urges parents to watch out for signs of mental or emotional distress among their children.
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7. Enlist the whole family.
As they say, it takes a village to raise a child. Now that the school community is a little more distant from our kids, it's our own family that should be more proactive around our learners. Have a talk with the other members of your family to remind them that your kindergartener, pre-schooler, or grade-schooler needs support. Get motivational discussions rolling at the dinner table. Engage in family activities that will reenergize your little one.
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Try these tips today and see how they help your child through online classes. We're also all ears for other Christian parenting tips. Leave a comment!
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