4 Tricks to Try When Your Kid Is Tired of Distance Learning

It's not unusual for your kid to feel burned out after months of remote learning. Here are expert strategies for a few common online school struggles.

After months (and months) of remote learning, your child has likely mastered both multiplication and the mute mic—but is probably feeling a bit burned out. While you can’t blame them if they’re over it, you can help keep them motivated as they head into the second half of the virtual school year. Rosalind Wiseman, coauthor of The Distance Learning Playbook for Parents, offers strategies for a few common online school struggles.

girl at home desk school work

If your child doesn’t want to participate:

There’s always a good reason for their actions, but you’ll need to figure it out. Stay away from general questions like, “How is school?” Instead, find a quiet time and ask, “School is different now. What are some good things about it? What’s not so good?” If your kid is sick of being online, find out when they can take a few breaks and use that time to do tech-free activities such as drawing, stretching, or going for a walk.

If your child gets upset when you try to help:

Your good intentions can come across as taking over. To avoid a power struggle, try guiding your kid with curious questions. For instance, if they’re answering an open-ended question aloud, take a three- to 10-second pause after they speak so they can build on that idea. If they have trouble responding or say the wrong thing, offer a prompt: “Let’s look at the teacher’s checklist to see if you’re missing anything” or “Can you reread the question?” If you can see why your child is frustrated or confused by the assignment, email the teacher to come up with a strategy to get them back on track.

If your child is acting withdrawn:

Stay away from saying, “You’ll get through it.” Try: “I want to do a short check-in …” and then say, “Thanks for telling me. Emotions are real but not permanent. If we talk about them and support each other, they won’t be so scary.” If your kid says they’re bored, ask them for other words that describe how they feel. “Bored” might mean they aren’t challenged or they don’t understand the work. If you think your child is anxious or depressed, describe to them what you’re observing and ask if that’s right. Then discuss possible strategies for care, such as seeing a therapist.

If your child isn’t progressing:

Look for ways to work on skills offline. Ask your child to jot down the grocery list for spelling and writing practice. To learn shapes, have them point out circles, squares, and triangles you see on a walk. If they’re struggling with the alphabet, get them to make a letter using their body (like standing with arms stretched out to form a T).

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's January 2021 issue as “When Your Kid Is Tired of Distance Learning.” Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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