As we approach the halfway point of the 2020-2021 school year, many of us find that our children are still receiving their education virtually. While some may be adapting to their new normal, others may be continuing to struggle to a learning environment that is less than ideal for their own learning style. These struggling e-learners may even be experiencing new challenges like frustration, anger and even anxiety. While the suggestions below may be helpful in supporting your e-learner, please keep in mind that the Behavioral Therapy team at Mobile Therapy Centers are exceptionally qualified to help your child through any social emotional challenges they may be currently facing.
Here are some places to start in supporting your e-learner:
Create a learning space for your child
Does your child have a designated space for learning? It’s important to set up a quiet, clutter-free area if your child is learning full-time from home. Be sure to provide adequate lighting either naturally with windows or indoor lighting fixtures. It may be helpful to mimic their desk or work area in their classroom. Provide storage for their school supplies, books, notebooks and other materials that need quick accessibility. It is important to clear away clutter in their work areas. Reducing clutter helps kids focus and can reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Homes can be riddled with distractions these days. Video games, computer games, social media, TV, toys and pets can draw your e-learners attention away from their studies. It may be helpful to make a list of the things that distract your child, and then discuss ways to limit them during learning time. For example, is the dog a big distraction? If so, can you put the dog in a separate room when your child is doing schoolwork? Are games or social media a big distraction? Try blocking them on your child’s device during instructional time. It is important to remind your child that this is not done as a punishment, but rather as a supportive measure.
Get plenty of movement breaks
Exercise is a critical part of an e-learners day. With adequate movement breaks, a child’s problem-solving, memory, and attention span improve. Physical activity is a natural way to reduce stress and prevent anxiety. Movement not only gets our heart rates up, it also has a positive impact on cognitive processing and emotions. Do not rely solely on the movement breaks the school provides. It is important Identify a time and place throughout the day for physical activity. A great time for exercise is right before tackling schoolwork. You may even want to break the homework into smaller sections with short 5-10 minute brain breaks in between. Websites like GoNoodle or Fuel Up to Play 60 are great resources for these short breaks.
Assess accessibility needs / learning tools
Most phones, laptops, and other mobile devices have built-in assistive technology. For example, read aloud or text-to-speech can help struggling readers, and speech-to-text can help struggling writers. In many programs, you can adjust the settings to slow down the playback speed if your child is having trouble understanding videos. You can also change the settings to show closed captions if it helps your child to read the text while listening to videos. Even enlarging the text on the screen can reduce eye strain for children who spend multiple hours a day on a computer screen.
Assess Emotional Wellness
Most importantly, check in with your student frequently. See how they are doing both cognitively and emotionally with the demands of virtual learning. If you find that your child is frequently stressed, not eating regularly, sleeping more than usual or unusually irritable, it may be a sign that e-learning has had an impact on their emotional wellness. Give them time to vent about frustrations and try a collaborative approach to problem solving ways to help. If further support is needed, the Behavioral Therapists at Mobile Therapy Centers are here to support your e-learner and you through this time.
Mobile Therapy Centers provides Behavioral Therapy at our Multidisciplinary Clinic in Libertyville, at your home or at your child’s school/daycare making it convenient for you and your family. Our Behavioral Therapists specialize in techniques to help foster social, emotional and behavioral development. In addition to Behavioral Therapy/Counseling, Mobile Therapy Centers services include ABA Therapy for Autism, Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy. We also provide Telehealth services.