Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, families and students alike have been forced to adapt to a new way of learning. For many, even regular school can be overwhelming and exacerbate underlying signs of mental health disorders. It’s important that families work together to promote healthy schedules to allow students to remain motivated with online learning.
With an increase in the amount of COVID-19 cases over the fall and into the holiday season, more schools are requiring students to engage with online learning. This can be anxiety provoking and unmotivating. It’s important to remember that families are not alone.
How families can support their child with online learning
· Structure: Create a weekly schedule and stick to it. For children and teens, it’s important that learning remains structured. Create times for meals, homework, free time, family time and exercise to break up the day and stay organized.
· Check-ins: It’s critical to stay involved in your child’s activities. Ask your child when certain assignments are due, and what they have accomplished each day. Refrain from overparenting, while still holding them accountable.
· Keep in touch with the school: Stay involved with the information that the school is providing. It can be helpful to check in with your child’s teacher or counselor to ensure you are doing what you can at home to reinforce the school’s guidelines.
Each student may have different experiences with online learning. It’s important to understand how they are feeling and how you can best support them. The only way to find this out is to initiate an open and honest conversation. Getting your child to open up about their learning experiences can take time—be patient and remember to listen.
Talk to your child about
· What they are enjoying most in their curriculum
· How they are staying in touch with their peers
· What is frustrating them most about online learning and how are they coping
· How or if online learning has negatively affected their mental health
· How can you, as a parent or guardian, support them during this challenging time
It’s important to reinforce the lessons your child learns online in your household as well. While this may not apply to all aspects of their curriculum, you can start small. For example, if your child is learning new exercise techniques in physical education class, ask if they will show you and take time to work on it together. Alternatively, if your child is reading a new book for English class, ask them to explain the various characters. If you have time, you may want to join them in reading a chapter. If your family is able to indicate interest in online learning, this will help motivate your child’s engagement.
If you're struggling to keep your child engaged with online learning, remember that you are not alone. This kind of learning is new for everyone and it’s important to know that no family is perfect. You can expect this to be challenging and take some time. Try out different techniques and see what works best for your family. Check in with your neighbors or family members of another student to see what has worked for them.
If you notice your child’s mental health suffering as a result of online learning, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. Charlie Health offers virtual treatment program for teens and young adults struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. You are not alone—Charlie Health’s expert team of clinicians is here to support you and your family.