The reality of online schooling is here even though some other factors are uncertain. For all of us, this may seem like someone tacked on extra miles to a marathon and there’s no clear finish line in sight. We will survive this and the faster we can accept what is out of our control, the more energy we will have into facilitating a better start to the year for our kids.
Over the years I’ve done a lot of research on educational practices and how current policies go against the neuroscience of how the brain learns and retains information. Ironically, online schooling may provide an opportunity for parents to structure learning so their kids can get the most out of the day and actually thrive during this time.
Here are some tips for online schooling based on neuroscience.
1) Get the kids sunshine and exercise every morning if possible. Why? Sunshine in the morning can help regulate the body’s sleep/wake cycles, sunshine can prevent vitamin D deficiencies which are known to be a risk factor in recovering from Covid-19, and physical exercise in the morning facilitates better learning throughout the day.
2) Keep the kids hydrated. Have them drink water throughout the day so dehydration doesn’t affect brain functioning.
3) Let the kids move while they learn! “Sit and pay attention” should not be in anyone’s vocabulary. Kids learn better while fidgeting, moving, and learning in a multimodal (hands-on) format if possible. Have a bouncy ball that they can sit on? Great. Have wireless headphones so they can pace back and forth or move around the room while listening to a lecture? Awesome. Don’t restrict their movement. This is especially true for young children, boys of any age, kids with ADHD, and gifted kids.
4) Deal with what is, not what you think “should be” with regard to what your kids can and can’t do. If your kids can’t monitor their time to show up to online lectures or sustain attention without 1:1 help, do your best to accept where they are, meet them there, and then accommodate as best you can.
5) Remember you’re a facilitator, not a teacher. Don’t stress yourself out trying to teach math you don’t know (they’ll quickly tell you you’re doing it wrong anyway since the newer methods are not how we learned it). Access online tutorials and take some deep breaths…you aren’t supposed to know it all.
6) Keep calm and carry on. Adding stress to this process will make your kids and you want to avoid it. Be flexible and know that we are all in this together. Many of our kids will need summer school and additional supports to catch up but trust that as everything unfolds there will be solutions for all of us.
7) Review learning at night. Neuroscience shows that we retain more of what we rehearse right before bedtime. Just a few minutes of review can enhance memory and help concepts stick.
8) If you or your kids are having trouble sleeping, are overly emotional during the day, or anxious or depressed, call us. We are here to help! Even one session of teletherapy boosted with neurotechnology can be a huge help as we navigate this challenging time.