Whether your kids are seasoned homeschoolers or this is the first time they’ve done it, the same challenge crops up time and time again with distance learning: motivation.
Especially at the moment when we can’t do the normal things that make up a routine — going out for milkshakes, going to school, playing in the park — it’s hard to be as productive as we’re used to in “regular life”.
And while a little drop in productivity is forgivable, you still want to keep your kids’ energy and enthusiasm up for distance learning. We’ve rounded up a list of the best tips and tricks to make sure your child can keep up with their education without being too sidetracked by TikTok or Netflix.
Best tips and tricks for distance learning motivation
Have a daily schedule
Kids perform best with a little stability, and when things around them are predictable. Create a timetable together that you stick to each day, and schedule everything: when you wake up, when you eat meals, when you have break time, and when lessons commence. It’ll be easier for your kid to work solidly from 9 am to 11 am if they know they’ve got a thirty-minute screen time allowance coming up.
Try to factor in some exercise as a family, too — to break up the work and screen time and boost the energy levels. It’s a good idea to start the day with a walk around the block or a YouTube yoga class; something to get the blood and energy flowing and set you up for the day ahead.
Set daily goals
Each day, write a little to-do list for your child. Write one for yourself too, so they don’t feel like they’re the only one “suffering” through work. Include their set school tasks, but also add things like “go for a walk”, “bake cookies”, or other fun non-school activities. It helps to be able to start the day by visualizing everything that has to be done in the next eight hours.
You could even make a little punch card like a cafe loyalty card. Each time your child completes a task or finishes a school lesson, you can punch out a square on the card. When they get to ten, they can get a special reward.
Breaking up the “school day” into blocks can be really helpful. Give your child a set amount of time for each task, but let them know that you’ve allowed a little more than they should need.
When the task is done, they can use the rest of the allotted time for whatever they want. That small break will be like a metaphorical carrot motivating them to finish their work. Be watchful that your kids don’t rush through their tasks in order to gain more free time.
Break up the activities
Chances are, the majority of your child’s assigned school work is on the computer. Technology is a great tool for distance learning, but it’s also important for them to have a break from screens. Using a pen and paper can help break them out of the monotony of logging into online classes for days on end — it can be great for motivation.
Why not find an online worksheet bundle related to what they’re learning in class? You can print it off and they can complete it in between their set school work. It’s a good way to give them a deeper understanding of a topic, and it might be easier for them to learn and remember concepts when they’re presented in multiple ways.
We’ve got hundreds of lesson plans and worksheet bundles on every topic under the sun, from grammar and US history to biology and fractions.
Stay on top of what the teacher assigns
When kids are learning at a distance — and their only contact with the class and teacher is through a screen — they might easily feel isolated. This can lead to them falling behind or losing concentration. If possible, keep in contact with their teachers and stay abreast of the tasks your child is set each day. You can help them stay accountable for all the work they’re supposed to turn in, and your extra support will hopefully make them feel more connected and engaged.
Use positive reinforcement
Praise goes a long way in motivating kids, so take time to comment on their work each day and highlight what they’re doing right. As most parents know, positive reinforcement when kids do something right works much better than reprimanding when things go wrong. Praise is one of the best ways to motivate and teach, no matter what age the student is.
Teens are probably too old for a sticker reward system, but you could implement something a little more sophisticated like the punch card idea above. Or establish an agreement that for everything they accomplish to a high standard, they’ll be given an extra 15 minutes of screen time.
Use tools and apps
We’re pretty lucky to live in a time where we have many digital tools at our disposal. If you’re struggling to maintain motivation and focus for your kids while distance learning, there’s probably an app or two that can help you out.
Many people swear by the Pomodoro technique to boost productivity, which sees you working for short bursts of time — like twenty minutes — followed by a five-minute break. If this works for you and your kids, there’s an online tool which lets you set and track your times.
Working on the computer means that your kids have a whole online world of distractions right at their fingertips. The Chrome extension Stayfocusd is easy to install and will limit the amount of time that can be spent on time-wasting websites.
Don’t expect too much
While we’re living in this limbo, it’s impossible to be as productive as we were before the pandemic. Keep things low-key and realistic, and don’t stress too much if your child has an off day. It’s fine! Remember that families all around the world are in the same boat.
Just do your best, implement whatever techniques you can, and go easy on yourself and your family. This too shall pass!
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Link will appear as How to Maintain Distance Learning Motivation: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 15, 2020