Distance Learning: Do’s and Don’ts for Parents

Families are doing their best to work with distance learning, but let’s face it, kids, parents and teachers are all struggling. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Good to Do:

  • – Set up a quiet and clutter free space and allow your child to help decorate that space.
  • – Allow your child to move around. If they have multiple classes over several hours (some kids are online for 7 hours!), allow them to move to different rooms, inside/outside and to be comfortable.
  • – Allow them to get snacks as-needed. That is a perk of distance learning. It doesn’t have to all be negative.
  • – Be sure to introduce yourself to each teacher and exchange emails and phone numbers.
  • – Coordinate some flexibility with the teacher if your child needs to adjust the time of day they can work so you can assist them.
  • – Ask teachers to record class time so students can watch the instructions again and parents have access if/when their students need help. If they can’t record video due to privacy, ask them to record audio. The point is to provide the necessary support for students.
  • Listen when your child is sharing. It may sound like complaining, but they are doing the best they can.
  • Listen in on classes periodically and look at the homework your child is doing. (You need to know how and what they are being taught.)
  • Engage your kids in their school work. I know that’s hard with a full schedule, but with everything online, I guarantee you that some kids are learning things their parents are not aware of (and may not agree with).
  • – Focus on the quality of time spent vs the quantity. Tell the teachers when your student has done enough. It’s about learning, not binging.
  • – Encourage your kids to contact teachers to ask questions, and ask questions yourself.
  • – Follow-up to make sure your student is given extra time to finish an assignment once they have received a response from the teacher. I’m hearing of students turning in work without a full understanding of the project because the teachers are behind in responding. Your student should not be marked down or feel rushed because they did not get a timely response (or a response at all).  
  • – Give your kids a break if they are not coping well. Their mental health is more important than grades. Find out what the anxiety or upset is about and work towards a solution. (4.4 million kids in the U.S. have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder from age 3 to 17. That is not okay!)
  • – Give your kids the benefit of the doubt. Choose to believe in and trust them. If trust has already been damaged, seek the support necessary to repair it. Your relationship needs to be built on trust.
  • – It’s okay to limit school to a certain number of hours each day. Kids need balance and rest. If they are being given too much work (and many students are), the school needs to adjust, not your family.
  • Tutors are very helpful to keep students on track and give 1-1 support, if you are not able to do that.

Not Good to Do:

  • – Don’t tell your child to suck it up and deal with it. Distance learning is a real drag! They need to know you understand that.
  • – Don’t forget or minimize that they are missing the social aspects of school (friends, milestones, class experiences, physical activity, excitement about that cute boy or girl in class, a new outfit, sports, interaction, etc.). Distance learning is not “like normal school.”
  • – Do not take the teacher’s side against your student. Get all of the facts and find out what may be the issue for your child. If they are acting out, there is a reason and you need to address it at its core.
  • – Don’t be disrespectful to teachers. They have a lot on their plate too. Kindness goes a long way. (Disrespect also puts your student in a bad position.)
  • – Don’t simply look at grades and push your kids harder. Find out WHY they are not getting the grades you expect.
  • Don’t assume that a missing assignment is your child’s fault. Teachers are behind in grading assignments on a regular basis. Ask questions instead of accusing.
  • – Don’t allow teachers to yell at their students and look the other way when you hear it. Kids are struggling too. They do not deserve to be treated that way.
  • – Don’t tell your kids to “act as if you are at school”. The reality is they aren’t at school.
  • – Don’t make them get up super early as if they have to leave for school. Make adjustments in some of the timing so there are perks to learning at home (sleeping in).
  • – Don’t let teachers dock points for late assignments if your child is waiting for the teacher to answer a question. Be your child’s advocate. Fight for those points. Your child did their part … asking the question. The teacher can give more time once they’ve provided the answer. That’s reasonable.
  • – Don’t ignore or push harder if your child is lacking motivation, seeming depressed, overwhelmed, bored, having meltdowns. You need to address what is not working. They need someone to care about how they are doing and what they need. That’s your job as a parent. Get the needed support ASAP.
  • Don’t multi-task when you are helping with school work. It will frustrate both of you.
  • – Don’t expect your kids not to ask questions. They are learning. When they are working on something new or something they are not good at, be available.
  • – Don’t let the school system dictate what is healthy for your child.

While this list may not cover all of the scenarios for every family, I hope this gives you a sense of how to be an advocate for your child. They need one! When kids go back to on-campus learning, review these ideas again. Many will still apply.

Remember: relationships take time and attention. You are building something that will last forever, and the care you put into it matters. Together, we will all get through this season.

Traci L. Williams is the Founder of A Loving Way to Parent. She is known for her intuitive and practical approach to parenting. Schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation to find out how she can support your family!

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