Finding Balance After Remote Learning



girl at desk watching remote learning classroom

During the COVID-related school closure, most schools shifted to a fully digital space, and that led to many students abandoning systems that served them well up until then: Who needs a calendar if you’ve got Google classroom? Why study if you can phone a friend during the assignment? Why stay in your seat if you can turn off your camera and pace your room during a lesson?

With most students now back in the school building, we’re hearing from parents who are frustrated at all of the habits and systems that need to be rebuilt and from students who can’t identify why last year’s strategies are falling short this year. 

After navigating that balance through hundreds of hours of coaching, I can tell you that a hybrid of old and new systems works best for most kids. Here’s how you can help your child put that in place:

Steps to Take

  1. Focus on function. We all have expectations of what a good system should look like, but the reality is that the best system is one that works! When helping your child solve problems, focus on the purpose of the system. They don’t need a planner; they need a way to keep track of their assignments. They don’t need a clean desk; they need to be able to find the materials they need to do their work. This approach also helps students identify gaps in their current systems. For example, Google Classroom and Canvas are awesome for checking in on daily assignments (if they’re posted), but they’re not set up to keep track of multi-day assignments and upcoming tests.  
  2. Make it easy. Effective systems lean into a person’s natural tendencies. If your child loses track of time easily, put a clock in every room where your kids spend time—even the bathroom! If they are more likely to keep track of their phone than a planner, encourage them to use a digital calendar. Many students have learned how to use voice-to-text on Google Docs, iPad (or affordable drawing pad) annotations of PDFs, printing teachers’ digital presentations to jump start class notes, and a host of other strategies that continue to make their lives easier. If a system that works is good, one that lowers stress is great!
  3. Theres an app for that. Work with your child to control the controllables, especially the impact phones have, which is within kids’ control. When we prompt students to harness their desire for independence when using their phones, it’s more likely they will take advantage of the phone’s potential to support their learning systems. There are apps to help students manage their arousal, leverage breaks, limit their own screen time, and plan effectively.

Once systems are established at home, you can coordinate with school to make sure they carry over. If you need help with how to do that, let us know. Keep in mind that with a little patience and perseverance you can help your child transition to a “new normal” which is likely to be hybrid between pre and post COVID practices. 

This blog originally appeared on The Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities website.

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