How to Make Online Learning Stress-free for You and Your Child
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many aspects of work and daily life. One of the most notable shifts in the education industry is the prevalence of online learning. Quarantine measures have prevented many students around the world from taking physical classes and doing face-to-face meetings. Schools have had to transition classes to online platforms, and teachers are now conducting their lessons in the digital world.
Online learning or home-based learning is a combination of e-learning, which would include online learning platforms, email messages, where teachers can send notes or worksheets, and hardcopy assignments, which involve the use of textbooks and worksheets.
Even the tuition industry has learned to adapt by bringing lectures and tutorials online.
While both parents and students have learned to embrace this new way of learning, it is no secret that online classes can also bring some amount of stress to both parties. Parents, who primarily work from home, now have to to closely monitor and guide their children in their online classes. In turn, children can sometimes feel the pressure to learn online as effectively as they would in a physical setting, not to mention the myriad of distractions they can encounter at home.
Studies reveal that the transition to online learning can cause higher stress levels and affect one’s motivation. Long hours in front of computers or mobile devices can also lead to physical ailments, such as headaches and eye problems.
So how can parents make online learning stress-free? Here are some tips:
Create a Dedicated Space for Studying
Without the confines of a physical classroom, children can get distracted easily, especially when they see their favourite toy or their pet is begging them to play.
Find a space in your home that is conducive for learning. If possible, don’t set up a study area where your child sleeps. You don’t want him or her to be tempted to sleep while class is ongoing!
Don’t Take Over the Role as the Teacher
Keep in mind that parents are there to support their children as they learn from home. Parents and teachers are partners in the academic development of the student, but parents need not take over the role as teacher.
You may need to supervise your child when it comes to reminding them about their tasks or making sure they are not distracted when it is time to study. In case there is a lesson that is confusing, encourage your child to ask the teacher during or after class.
Don’t attempt to recreate school, either. Determine the ideal number of hours to be set aside for schoolwork instead of trying to replicate school hours with almost a whole day of curricular content.
Maintain Open Communication with Your Child
Maintaining open communication with your child can help address challenges right from the start. Regularly check in with your child about his or her experience with online classes. Ask about what can be improved and how you might help make the situation better. Having an open conversation with your child can also relieve some tension he or she might be feeling.
You can start by asking about his or her day. Encourage your child to express his or her feelings. Don’t get straight into asking about grades or class standing. Be gentle and understanding, so both you and your child can adjust to the new learning set-up.
Set Aside Time for Breaks
At school, there is such a thing as recess. It should not be so different at home. It is a myth that the child must spend the whole day in front of the computer or else they are not learning. Children need routines and schedules both in school and at home.
In between learning activities, make sure to carve out time for your child to take a breather. It will help him or her reset and refresh the mind in preparation for the next lessons. Studies show that regular short breaks can increase their productivity, reduce stress, and boost brain function. A 2012 study found that our brains process memories and help us make sense of our experiences when we take breaks. Our brains are not idle, as some may think!
Establish Boundaries between Work and Play
When it’s study time, focus on studying. But when it’s break time, don’t constantly talk about lessons. This tip operates on the same principle as setting aside time for breaks.
The child needs to understand that they can enjoy playing or relaxing without being on guard that the parent will ask about lessons. In turn, establishing boundaries will also train them to focus on the task at hand and not get easily distracted when studying.
Make Time for Exercise
As there is no need to commute to school, physical activities may take a backseat. Take note that it is still important to squeeze in exercise time in between online learning. Studies have shown the benefits of exercise on boosting brain health, with physical activities positively affecting children’s cognitive development and academic success.
Physical activities increase blood flow and oxygenation to the brain and can help improve attention and memory. Importantly, exercise can enhance one’s mood and increase one’s ability to cope with stress.
Don’t Schedule Too Many Activities
Don’t be tempted to fill your child’s day with activities just because you are afraid to have idle time. Allow your child to play and explore other interests. This will help them develop creativity and out of the box thinking. Studies show that unstructured playtime can provide an opportunity for children to practice divergent thinking through imaginary and creative play. This can free them from constantly thinking about lessons or the stress of grades.
Remember that online learning can be equally stressful for your child. The pressure of having to learn outside the confines of school can also cause anxiety. The more parents make an effort to understand the child’s situation and experiences, the better they can come up with solutions that would make online learning a productive and enriching endeavour.