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Online Learning Arggh! But Wait, There’s a Way.

Online Learning (Again!)

Tips to Improve Engagement for Elementary/Middle School Children

By David A. Morris, LCSW

Hopefully we are entering our final season of online, remote learning. It has been a difficult ride. Our children are truly struggling with the juggle of hybrid, full remote and in-person learning. It is imperative we strive forward for their future’s sake. Below, you will find educational and engagement ideas to help maintain their interest.

online learning - tips from new directions counselingIf you have the opportunity to help your child or have additional support to do so, please prioritize these areas to improve the connection between the child and their education:

  • Provide positive and frequent feedback of their productivity – focus on the strengths of the student.
  • Continue to expose them to new material – repetition is valuable but cannot be the only approach.
  • Simple, repeated directions on new skills – new skill learning can be stressful, utilize simple instructions to help.
  • Learn collaboratively with another student online – try breakout groups.
  • Consistent and reliable practice – build a routine of practicing that is time limited.
  • Increase exposure to additional content of their interest – even Minecraft has a great book series!
  • Go deeper on concepts related to their core subjects – help explore their passions and interests related to core subject matter.
  • Science, Math, Science, Math! – make it fun by using everyday situations.

Tips for Emotional Reactions to Online Learning

Some children are having a negative emotional response to the push and pull of school transitions. Here are some ideas to try when you notice they are worried or irritated:

  1. Empathy and Validation – Your first line of communication is to connect with their experience emotionally. You don’t have to have their emotion, just understand what it is. Use discovery language to find out (e.g. “It looks like you are really jealous right now, did I get that right?”
  2. Find Your Moment – After their irritating moment or tantrum, find a quiet time to address what they are avoiding and frustrated with.
  3. Use Exploratory Questions – Close-ended “Yes and No” questions often produce limited connection with your child. Consider opening up the question to allow them to express their concern. “How can this day become more interesting for you?”

Tips for Engagement

Parents, grandparents, guardians and babysitters need ideas to build engagement for the child. Here are some startup tips to help:

  1. Collaborate with the teachers – Teachers are working hard to provide a reasonable education online. Ask if they would consider breakout groups, fun periods, or even 1:1 tutoring on new material.
  2. Make A Plan – Develop the day in advance. Find activities during breaks or after school to engage the child. In addition, beware of being too rigid or concrete with your schedule. Often children need to decompress after hours on the screen.
  3. Be Positive and Firm – Find the balance of being both positive and firm. Being positive and providing praise does not negate the responsibility and structure of the day. Children do well with structure. Often times positive attention for positive behaviors works well as does no attention for negative behaviors.
  4. Use Your Creativity – We live in a time in which thinking outside the lines is necessary. Our typical comforts may not be as readily available. Find a way to create safe socialization, activity and exploration.

If your child is having additional struggles despite your best efforts, please call our office today for an evaluation.  724.934.3905