By Jessica Deling, M.Ed, Child & Family Development
All public schools in both North Carolina and South Carolina have temporarily closed as the nation attempts to slow the progression of COVID-19. Educators nationwide are being asked to move from planning traditional, classroom-based learning opportunities, to designing lessons and activities that will be used to teach skills remotely.
This can feel very overwhelming to parents that are already juggling schedules, finding alternate childcare or wondering how they are supposed to manage their child’s learning at home. Unlike summer vacation or a holiday break, this unexpected school closure comes with a lot of uncertainty. Here are some tips for making the most of learning from home.
Step one: Relax. None of us have been in this situation. There are many unknowns and things continue to change rapidly. In stressful situations, you may find it helpful to practice mindfulness. Setting the tone for the day is something you can include your children in as well.
Timing is everything: Keeping your daily routine can benefit everyone in your household. Routines can help reduce stress and help your student better understand time management. Consider implementing a schedule that mirrors your child’s typical school day, including morning and afternoon routines, time for academics during the day, opportunities for structured play or exercise and even screen time.
– This resource published by Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA), has some great ideas for movement breaks and education-based screen options.
– The use of visual supports (e.g., a visual schedule, to-do lists, etc.) may clarify expectations and help your child know what to expect. These types of supports can be handwritten, typed, drawn by hand, or created using Google Images or websites like www.do2learn.com.
Prioritize assignments: Some students will have assignments to complete online, while others may have work sent home in the form of workbooks or handouts. Prioritizing assignments can make completing work more efficient. For example, create a list of tasks to complete, beginning with a non-preferred or lengthy task. Completing this work first, and leaving easier or preferred tasks for last, can help your child complete it in a timely manner. Sustaining effort and motivation is more difficult as the child fatigues. Help your child break larger assignments up into smaller parts. Use visual timers to help them sustain focus.
– This app is available on a number of devices, but kitchen timers work well too
Phone a friend: Kids are going to have questions and you might not always have the answer or time to help. In an effort to adhere to social distancing recommendations, encourage older children to call a friend or study via FaceTime. Students can also email teachers or keep a running list of questions in a notebook if direct communication with your child’s teacher is limited.
Take a break: Believe it or not, taking breaks while studying or completing homework can actually help you! Scheduling periodic breaks, can help a student decrease procrastination, maintain focus and be more efficient. It is important to PLAN these breaks.
P – Prepare:
Once your assignments are prioritized, schedule breaks and determine what you will do during that break, before you start. For example:
9:30 – 9:50 Math worksheet #’s 1-12
9:50 – 9:55 Break: jumping jacks/plank hold/sets of push-ups/crunches or sit-ups
9:55 – 10:15 Vocabulary practice (Quizlet)
10:15 – 10:30 Break: walk the dog
L – Length of time:
Study breaks and homework breaks should be between 5 – 10 minutes. You can use an iPhone/iPad timer, kitchen timer or ask an adult to time your breaks. It is very important that study breaks have a clear start and end time.
A – Activity:
What are you going to do during your break? Physical activity or stretching gets your blood moving to your brain and has been proven to increase focus.
N – Note:
Take note of any challenges you had while trying this strategy. For example, was there an activity that made it more difficult for you to stop doing and return to the assignment? Did breaks seem too short or too long? Did you notice that taking a break helped you?
Jessica Deling is an Educational Specialist at Child & Family Development. Educational specialists provide the support a student requires to overcome a learning disability. Educational specialists are experienced in evaluating and treating the underlying deficits in the diagnostic subtypes including dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. Educational specialists develop a holistic treatment plan which addresses each student’s individual learning needs as their difficulties impact school success.
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