When schools shut down in March, nobody expected remote learning to last more than a few months. But this fall, many families across the country are in a position where in-person schooling is not an option.
As the coronavirus sweeps across the nation and threatens to cause a second wave, one thing remains certain: remote learning is here to stay. Because of this, frustrations, obstacles, and disappointments are affecting children and parents as they struggle to adapt to a new way of learning. Juggling schedules, keeping up with assignments, and adjusting to technology can be stressful and taxing on even the most organized and tech-savvy families.
But while this school year may be anything but “normal,” there are plenty of ways to make it feel less stressful for parents and students. Keep reading to learn how everyone can still be happy, healthy, and successfully learn even in a pandemic.
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Although those are certainly important, it is proven that the actual school environment where students learn the most. Surrounded by their peers, students are able to learn emotional regulation, discipline, self-identity, conflict management and so many other important life skills. Children naturally make friends when they are in a school environment.
When it comes to distance learning, it is crucial to not lose that element. Maintaining relationships with their teachers and peers, is an important part of the learning process for children of all ages. Facilitating in-person interaction, whether in small pandemic pods or one-on-one with the teacher can help maintain that important life school. Safely scheduling playdates and staying in touch with school friends with video chats is also extremely vital.
The coronavirus has proved to be unpredictable, but sticking to a daily schedule is one way to help everyone in the family feel comfortable with the new routine.
Not having a schedule in place will only contribute to more anxiety about the current situation. When adults and children experience stress, the body releases more of the hormone cortisol, which produces the fight or flight impulse. Although some stress can be beneficial and even useful in helping children prepare for difficult assignments and challenging tests, persistent elevated stress levels can be toxic, affecting memory and attention. Our brains like order, and when our environments are predictable, such as with a schedule, we are able to remain calmer.
Helping children manage their stress with set routines and schedules can give them a sense of normalcy. Unstructured time for play and for working on extracurricular projects is also needed. While children are away from their support systems of friends and the structure of school, keeping them connected to their routines will help them thrive under the difficult circumstances.
An important life skill is resilience. Being resilient starts with learning how to regulate behaviors and emotions in response to volatile experiences and circumstances.
Teachers and parents can help foster resilience in students by helping them manage their emotions and fears every day. Practicing mindfulness, meditation, and exercise are ways to stay grounded and build resilience during an otherwise unstable time.
Parents can model healthy approaches by managing their own reactions and stress levels. Students who build resilience during remote learning, will be better prepared when they return to in-person learning. When this element is prioritized it can protect students from the damaging effects of stress. Additionally, it will promote wellness and ignite the developing brain to be better prepared to learn.
Seek Professional Help
Remote learning may come easier to some students and parents than others. The unprecedented times we live in are challenging in numerous and different ways for everyone.
While we all handle stress in different ways, it should not get in the way of your child’s education. If you are finding that remote learning is becoming a daily battle, is causing anxiety to you or your child, or your stress levels are out of control, it may be time to seek help. Taking care of your mental health should be a top priority right now.