| by Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed., TPT Teaching and Coaching, 9/29/2020|
Organization, structure, discipline and independence are key factors that govern academic success for many students. With online learning, these foundational skills have become even more crucial. Help your child accelerate his/her educational future with the tips below:
1. A Well-Loved Study Corner
Help your child foster a love for learning by letting your student choose and decorate a favorite study corner at home that is quiet, clutter-free, and conducive to learning. A well-loved learning space is a child’s key to unlock intrinsic motivation and academic success.
2. Banish Distractions
The best lesson to prepare students for the 21st century and beyond is how to conquer distractions. The golden ticket here is to show your child how to do one thing at a time and do it well. For example, if a student is doing a math worksheet, that should be the only thing that’s in front of the child. If the internet is needed, then treat it as a 2-step process. Close the internet after the student got the needed directions, then have the student focus on the math worksheet only. All other devices off and out of sight.
3. Set Hourly Goals
Students thrive on accomplishing goals when expectations are set clear and early on. Establishing hourly goals on a white board or a dedicated location can help students focus and meet expectations. It also provides an opportunity for the student to self-regulate and practice time management. Using a timer is a plus.
4. Write It Out
Writing is a powerful mechanism to help your student organize their thoughts while honing independence. The act of writing increases students’ habit of taking initiative to problem-solve and organize different aspects of their lives.
5.Record to Re-listen
If your child finds the teacher’s pace is too quick to follow along, then recording the teacher’s voice via an iPhone or Zoom may be a breakthrough tool. The student can re-listen to the lesson at a later time for better comprehension.
6. Visual Cues for Start/Stop Time
For younger students, designing visual cues so they know when they need to start and stop their academic tasks are intrinsically motivating. Maybe a picture of a monkey reading on the wall means busy at work and a sleeping cat means a temporary break. Self-regulation cues in colorful ways may boost compliance, focus, and autonomy.
7. Centralize Deadlines
Too often, a student has to wade through many websites and portals to get information, which eventually gets lost or misplaced. Having your child write all deadlines into one centralized, academic calendar will give your student a clear sense of direction and purpose.
8. Maximize Teachers’ Office Hours
Help your child use teachers’ office hours or additional school resources. The huge advantage here is getting your child to be comfortable with how and when to ask for help. Maybe you help your child write the question to the teacher, but your child will be the one sending that email. Self-advocacy is the mother of autonomy.
9. Teachers’ Contact Info in One Place
For middle and high school students, having the student write all teachers’ contact information in one place will be transformative for learning how to proactively get organized while reducing stress by having pre-organized, critical information handy.
10. Incremental Breaks
Though every child is different, setting boundaries early around breaks is vital to the student’s productivity. Evenly distributed breaks help maintain the child’s energy throughout the day, which can help the child get a lot done in the long run. Using a timer will help your child enjoy disciplined break time.
11. Avoid Screen Time During Breaks
Research shows blue light from computer screens reduces melatonin (sleepy hormone) and increases cortisol (stress hormone), which can lead to energy depletion. Help your child avoid tech during scheduled breaks so your student can come back fresh with replenished energy, since much needed mental energy and focus are required for online learning. Getting fresh air outside and eating a healthy snack during breaks are much more advantageous and energy-boosting options.
12. Break It Down
It is better for a student to do a little at a time but keep going rather than doing a lot all at once and feel overwhelmed or fall into inconsistent productivity. Break down academic tasks by starting early will help the student feel they have control over their work and that even the hardest tasks can be accomplished in a manageable, stress-free way.
13. Read/Skim Ahead
For older students who may be in high school or college where a syllabus or the course overview is given well in advance, skimming through materials the teacher will cover the day before will accelerate the student’s understanding of the materials because the student would come to class with prior knowledge of what the teacher will talk about.
Resiliency is a life skill; parents can take this time to show your child how to weather through anything. This may be the most important lesson they will remember yet. Embrace the calm as well as the storm. Your love will help your child conquer all.
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