Some kids go to school online frequently using Google Meet.
Others attend school in small classes.
And yet many also go back and forth between the two settings depending on how the virus is or isn’t spreading.
Our children are caught in this web and parents need to fill in the gaps. It doesn’t mean we all have to be educated as teachers but given the complications our kids face there are many ways we can help.
PARENTING TIPS TO HELP Teens and Tweens
GOING TO SCHOOL ONLINE
- When multiple instructions are on the computer screen from various teachers, especially by seventh grade, kids really need us to help sort that out.
- Consider even reading the instructions out loud to them to lessen their frustration with these administrative tasks and to insure they understand what is expected especially when they have various teachers and some instructions conflict with others.
- Most kids online can’t ask teachers questions or are reluctant to feeling how busy their teachers are so parents need to offer to try and answer kids’ questions. Sometimes you may not know the answers such as advanced math problems, so call a professional friend for advice or go on google with your tween or teen.
- These kids are often alone for hours at their computer stations in your home. This is lonely and gets boring even if what they’re learning could be of interest to them. Hang out with them if you can and bring them lots of drinks and snacks. They are actually in an adult role like having an at home job in an office which has no social life, no encouragement, and again, can be quite lonely.
- Normal emotional development at this age includes connections and conversations and fooling around with other kids. This is difficult with social distancing, so remember our kids need us available as much as possible.
- However, normal feelings of wanting independence and some mild rebellion is also to be expected, so avoid power struggles by just listening to kids’ complaints without judgment. That’s what they need.
- No Judging but Just Listening to complaints and confusions is essential.
- Kids are usually remarkably attentive to social distancing and wearing masks as we all need to be. Praise them for this. It’s a new world and it can be frightening to follow these rules. Fears about their health and YOUR health isn’t hidden very well, but if it is, remember it’s there lingering in the shadows.
- Focus on learning for its own sake, rather than for grades. This is always good advice, but even more essential now. Without interaction kids aren’t learning from their peers which is so natural. They can’t get a sense of how they measure up to others they don’t see and chat with and worry about it.
- If your son or daughter’s grades are in fact slipping, don’t be critical, be understanding. Ask what’s troubling them and getting in the way of their past ways of meeting their potential. It’s amazing how empathy improves grades. Our kids just want to feel understood.
PARENTING TIPS TO HELP Teens and Tweens ATTENDING SMALL CLASSES WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING AND WEARING MASKS
Our kids know, as we do, that social distancing from classmates and wearing masks are essential under all circumstances. But wearing a mask for hours is tedious and distracting. Get comfortable masks especially for kids who wear glasses to lessen the stress of these necessary additions to their school clothes.
- Let kids pick out fun masks often available online with variations just like clothes. Some are funny, some are artsy, whatever is their pleasure, go for it. Think of masks as now part of their daily wardrobe.
- Sitting far apart in the class may seem awkward but kids are adapting to it. The upside if we can call it that is that classes are smaller which research shows improves learning.
- Ask your in-class kids if they can interact with their online peers. Encourage phone calls and texting for personal contact and as a way for the kids to help their peers with their schoolwork just as they would in normal circumstances.
- Make sure if the kids go to school on buses, they wear seat belts, and social distance while keeping their masks on.
- If the kids have a recess and play outside social distancing is still required even outside and so are masks. This is confusing for parents and kids, so make it clear in a gentle understanding way. It’s hard to be as playful with this gear, but they can do it especially if you praise their efforts.
- Remind the teachers that the at home kids often feel discouraged getting less attention than the in-class kids. Parents need to praise and encourage the teachers for this dual role and regularly thank them for including the online kids in their daily lessons.
Even teachers need praise and thanks. Empathy improves their job, too.
Eventually kids will be offered vaccines. Discuss this now with them before it becomes an eventuality.
Explain why there are priorities for who is vaccinated first and do your own scientific research until you feel confident in your kids receiving the vaccine.
If you have questions, gain some access to your doctors and scientists. Don’t be shy. Don’t hold back. These professionals want to answer your questions, no matter how stressed and busy they are.
If you are confident in getting the vaccine, you’ll be confident in making sure your kids get it, too.