A 2020 REMOTE LEARNING SURVIVAL GUIDE: PRACTICAL TIPS FOR SUCCESS
Written by Katie Sheehan, MSW
Across Illinois, many schools are beginning, or have begun their first few weeks of full remote instruction. With this, comes the potential for overwhelming uncertainty. Will they adjust? What is my role as a parent? Am I doing too little? Am I doing too much? Below are a few suggestions to ease the possible uncertainty as we move forward.
1. Maintain normalcy in the areas that you can.
If back to school usually means school supply shopping or a new outfit, it can still mean that! Work to change the definition of a school supply. Get creative! Maybe this means blue light filtering glasses, new ear buds, or a back support pillow.
2. Weekends still should = FUN.
Across the country people have been reporting the phenomenon of days running together or time not feeling concrete. It has become increasingly difficult to tell weekdays from weekends. But weekends are a necessary time for rest, relaxation, and most importantly, fun. Try to encourage activities such as socially distanced gatherings, renting the latest movies to your living room, or family game night.
3. Monitor for changes in mood or behavior.
Things to look out for may include irritability, changes in sleep or appetite, lower energy levels, isolating from friends or family, or loss of pleasure in interests or hobbies. While one or two of these changes occurring infrequently, may be a typical response, more severe changes may indicate difficulty adjusting, and an increased need for support. If you're concerned, and would like more information regarding depression and anxiety disorders that may be triggered or exacerbated by the beginning of this unique school year, get more information on our website by following the highlighted links above.
4. Validate their feelings.
Many students may hyper-focus on the unfairness of the situation. Especially those who are missing out on milestone years, such as their freshman year, or their senior year. They may be feeling a profound sense of loss for an experience that they have looked forward to, or fantasized about for years. It may be difficult for them to verbalize in ways other than “It’s just not fair.” Steer away from accidental invalidations such as “at least we’re healthy,” or “it could be worse.” While true, this is not helpful for someone navigating emotional pain. Practice leaning into their feelings and trying out something like “I know this is unfair, and I’m so proud of your resilience.” If you're needing a little more guidance take a look at our previous blog on supporting someone when they're struggling.
5. Practice patience and compassion.
Grades may slip. Pajama pants may replace jeans. Suppress the urge to come down hard on them. Try to solve the problem collaboratively. Remember that in 10 years your child will look back and remember this time full of fear and uncertainty. They will remember how hard it was to go from classroom instruction and seeing their friends in-person everyday, to their worlds existing through a screen. This is your opportunity to show them grace, understanding, patience, and compassion.
If you are still finding that you or your children are struggling with the adjustment to the changes that this new school year is bringing, I encourage you to reach out for help. You can schedule an appointment with on of our clinicians at OakHeart by calling (630) 570-0050 or by emailing Contact.OH@OakHeartCenter.com.