How Parents Can Help Their Kids Who Are Learning Online

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By Jamie Dickenson

How can you best support your children while they’re learning from home? Check out our tips for setting your family up for success.


You’ve seen the memes. They say things like “I’ve been teaching my child for six minutes now and I think teachers should be paid a million dollars a year.” And “My kid called me and said he missed the bus. I told him to get downstairs for school.”

If the coronavirus has done any good, it’s made parents realize that teachers have a difficult job.

Students with good study skills, time-management skills, and self-discipline are easy. In a virtual-learning environment, kids need to be self-starters. But most kids aren’t built that way and don’t learn that way. Big changes like we have all had, and having to learn online only adds to their difficulties. Kids who struggle in class can easily get lost online. They feel like they’re trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant. They log in and find themselves constantly behind, and they don’t know what to do first.

When kids are in classrooms, they have teachers to keep them in line and focused. But now that learning is taking place at home for the foreseeable future, parents are taking on at least part of that role.

 

Helping teach the kids at home may be somewhat easier with these tips:

  • Make sure to keep to a schedule. Schedules help to instill discipline. If the student’s classes are online at a specific time, make sure he or she is up and ready to learn. If they’re watching recorded classes, make sure they have specific times scheduled to be in front of the computer. Don’t have them spend too much time in front of the computer, though; 30 to 45 minutes several times a day is enough.
  • Older kids can help with younger kids. Older kids are probably more tech savvy than their parents are and younger kids might enjoy the attention.
  • Encourage your child and try to instill confidence. Self-esteem and confidence are so important to learning. If a student thinks he can master the material, he has a much better chance than a student who starts out feeling defeated. I always tell my students: “You’ve got the material. You just have to have the confidence to do it.”
  • Talk to your kids, not at them. You and your kids are bound to encounter some frustrations while learning from home. Your child might struggle with something or change their mind multiple times. They’re still figuring things out and, that takes time. Help guide them, but don’t push them in the process. Learning from home will take patience, understanding, and kindness.
  • Aim for positivity. Supportive, encouraging parents understand that no matter what you’re doing, sometimes the kids are going to struggle. Don’t let them see your frustration or aggravation.
  • Don’t hesitate to look for help. If your student is struggling, tutoring can be an overlooked tool to help your child. See if your child’s school is offering tutoring help. If not, look to a professional. When you want your child to be a better baseball player, you hire a batting coach. Similarly if you are looking to help your child be a better student and to help them excel in something they’re struggling with, a professional tutor is a valuable resource.

Remember that every child learns differently. Some work well on their own and some need constant guidance. Some struggle with the technology and others need team-building and brainstorming opportunities. Work with your child to find out how they learn best and aim to create that kind of environment for them.

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Jamie Dickenson, MBA, CEP
Independent Educational Consultant specializing in college admissions and financial aid, motivational speaker, business coach and owner of Jamie Dickenson, LLC., IEC Advisors, and Yoga Power, LLC.


Jamie Dickenson is not affiliated with Hartford Funds. Hartford Funds has separately contracted with Ms. Dickenson to provide additional insight about college savings issues.