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Challenged with remote learning? Make emotional connection a priority

By Sophie Barcant, BA (Psyc), B.ED, Trainer, Facilitator, Parenting Coach/Consultant

Is your child’s remote learning proving to be a huge source of worry, concern and stress? Are you tearing your hair out, even though school has barely started?

If you’re facing defiance, tantrums, tears, and lack of focus, it is totally understandable. It’s not about your patience, or your child’s intelligence. The problem is that remote learning is NOT how children are designed to learn.

Here are a few strategies to ease the stress.

Firstly, let’s understand that for the necessary brain functionating it is a priority that the child is in a good space emotionally. Our emotional state affects our cognitive functioning.

They need to feel connected to you the parent even if you are not next to them, and they need to feel connected to the teacher or other students. We are social beings and social connection is vital, even if via electronics.

Arrange casual interactions with your child and their friends online, and even the teacher if the need is high.

We are neurologically wired and motivated to do things that bring pleasure and we are driven to avoid pain so the online learning experiences must bring a feeling of satisfaction and reward in order for the child to be open to focusing. Yes, our will can override any avoidance we may have, but a certain level of maturity is required to control this natural neurological impulse.

Giving your child more control and autonomy can bring that pleasure. We can do this by offering them choices: which spot or chair to sit in to work, which pencil to use, what snack to have, where to take a break, what to do during a break, which assignments to do first or second when possible.

Wherever possible offer two choices where either is suitable. This meets a deep need for control and autonomy. Demands and commands, lead to power struggles and create resistance. Offering choices can greatly reduce this.

Foster their curiosity, excitement, and sense of discovery so the learning is fulfilling. Asking them about what they are learning and connecting the topic to a family, personal or societal experience can make the learning enriched.

I can see my daughter being keenly interested when I point out to her that knowing or understanding something I am sharing with her will make her stand out among her peers.

Remember that the number one priority of teens, children of a certain age and even adults, is to be accepted and fit in. Being empowered with a little extra knowledge can motivate children.

Set up the work area and schedule to support your child in staying focused. This helps them enjoy a sense of success and competence. Most people thrive with predictable routines. The brain can focus more quickly when it is familiar with content and setting.

Your relationship with your child affects your ability to guide them, and affects their brain’s ability to focus, so make it a priority to maintain a calm mood as they engage with their lessons.

Your most important job during remote learning is connecting with your child and reducing their anxiety. They actually fear that if they ‘fail’ to show their parent how smart they are, their parent will stop loving them. So, make every effort to not point out mistakes in a punitive way. Leave correcting to the teacher as much as possible.

If you must correct some of their work, a non-threatening way to do this is to simply point to the area of error and say “Do you think that is right?” or say “Be a detective, see if you can find the error.”

Proofreading or finding errors in writing was a component of SEA a few years ago, it may still be… it’s a great skill to have. But really, while online learning is taking place parents should focus mainly on helping their children manage their frustrations when challenged.

They may be struggling to master a concept so reminding them that they may not have it as YET, but they will get it eventually can be encouraging. Help minimise frustrations and not add to them by nagging, threatening, and lecturing. Focus on what they got right. Reward effort not necessarily results.

Create the climate for learning. Your own mood matters enormously. Seek the support YOU need to manage your own frustrations so you can help them manage theirs. Make work into games and contests against the clock. You will be amazed how such little adjustments like these can motivate them.

Need to let off steam and off load your frustrations? I am here to listen, support and offer coping tips. Message me on Facebook sophie’s parenting support, Instagram sophies_parenting_support. Or WhatsApp 799-9933.