As schools move to remote learning, parents are being asked to support students at home. Support can range from time management and academic help to regulating emotions and organizing materials. But how do you know when to help and how much to offer?
Many parents, especially those students with learning differences such as ADHD or dyslexia, are unsure of how much help to give. After all, school is a place for students to begin to develop their independence from parents. At the same time, no parent likes to watch their student struggle or give up.
Here are observations from a parent of an eighth-grade student during the first few days of remote learning (read some of her students’ blogs here).
After about an hour of school, I hear her chatting with her friends, cracking jokes, and being by far the loudest voice on the video conference. My blood pressure is going up, but I tell myself not to interfere. I’m actually sort of glad she is socializing as she was feeling so isolated after day one.
Later in the day, I hear sounds of extreme frustration. This can halt all progress, so I tried to help and we got into a big fight! When the storm calms, she says thanks, actually that was helpful, and she dives back into her schoolwork. In our house, there’s no point in holding a grudge.
As is typical, sometimes my daughter just needs a tiny push to get her over the hump of hyperactive inaction. Then she can work independently for hours. I see now that my “helpfulness” is interpreted by my daughter as if I said she’s “wrong”! Note to self: find a better way to help.
Remote learning is challenging for everyone, including parents. Keep in mind that relationships are more important than any homework assignment. This mom knows her daughter and knows how to support her, and that is the most important thing.
Parents can also help by reminding their student to do the things that they enjoy.
Although the hands-on project was just arts and crafts, my daughter started listening to an audiobook while she was doing the project. Since we don’t want to go to the movies right now, she found and started listening to Emma. This was awesome as she’s been so busy and stressed lately that she has not had time to just relax and read (ear reading).
Students may be too caught up in their online schooling to make time for things like reading, listening to music, and exercise. Helping students take time to relieve stress and anxiety can help them better understand the role that anxiety plays in their lives and how to manage it.
Finally, parents can help by reminding students to take advantage of available supports.
After the school day ended, my daughter did not want to “meet” with her Executive Function coach! However, after doing some note-taking practice, they discussed the challenges of remote schooling. From that, her EF coach put together a summary table of four challenge areas and solutions for each. For instance:
- Problem: Reading the assignments is difficult
- Solution: Reach out to the teacher via email or Google Classroom, keeping in mind that teachers are not always immediately available
Her coach also offered to do a quick review of the reading via Skype, but, timing may not work out. One key solution is to acknowledge that remote schooling is hard – for teachers, too – and it’s only Day 2, so try to give it a little more time. Good advice for me, too.
Many remote learning models rely on the student to reach out to the teacher when they need help. This may be a challenge, especially for students who struggle with motivation or who have experienced academic failure.
If your student was seeing an executive function coach, educational therapist, or a tutor, try to see if they can maintain that connection. These professionals can help students develop concrete strategies for adapting to online learning. They also provide one more supportive relationship that students can rely on as they adapt to their new remote learning lifestyle.
Looking for more resources? Check out these free executive function resources for parents.
- Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Director