Motivation for Distance Learning

We would like to share some information that may be helpful for parents during this unique time. This week, we would like to share some helpful tips on how to keep your student motivated during distance learning. However, also understand that the expectations for achievement have naturally lowered to also allow you to focus on life-altering circumstances and to adjust to an unprecedented time in our lives. If your child is not able to finish all of his/her schoolwork, please do not be alarmed and simply contact your teachers to let them know.

(*ES parents - please check your kid’s Tagesplan every Friday for the “counselor’s section” for additional tips and activities that pertain to winding down, relaxation, and fostering calmness.*)

1. Set up a learning space

Create an area in the house for your child to be able to focus on learning. There are no clear guidelines on what a learning area should look like. In fact schools have found creating learning areas or spaces to be a challenge. This is because every child has individual ways of learning, so what works for one may not work for another.

Home learning has an advantage in that it can cater to the individual child. As long as the student can focus and be safe, there are no limits to where the learning can take place. Feel free to allow children different places to learn, whether lying on the ground or sitting at a table – whatever works best for them.

But try to limit distractions. Turning the TV off and switching off app notifications will help.

2. Create a structure and schedule

Make sure your children do not just see this as an extended holiday but as normal school, from home. It’s important to create a structure.

Setting alarms similar to those they would encounter at school can be helpful for keeping them on a schedule. Around lunch time, encourage them to get up, get some fresh air, go for a walk or bike ride, or have a snack so that they are not sedentary for the entire day.

There is no specific time students should spend studying however, given different students of different ages will complete tasks and grasp concepts at different rates.

Be flexible depending on how your child is progressing, the typical time structures provided by the school can now be adjusted to the child’s individual needs. You might want to observe what routines emerge naturally for your family and build a schedule around them. This could mean completing assignments first thing in the morning and leaving the afternoon free for unstructured activities and play. The best rhythm or pattern might only emerge after a few weeks, and that’s ok. 

There are also no hard and fast rules over how many breaks they should have or how long these should be. Research shows giving children freedom to choose how they learn, and how long for, can increase their motivation, while some students may need more structure in order to stay motivated. Again, consider that these are unprecedented circumstances and there might be periods of time wherein you need to push aside any structure or schedule and focus simply on the family and everyone’s sanity. 

3. Be around to help, but don’t get in the way

If your child is finding a particular task difficult, be available to make suggestions and answer questions, but try to let them do things themselves as much as possible.

If you don’t know the answer, work with your child to discover a solution. Let your child, where possible, self-regulate – that is to take control of their own learning and not rely on you.

Your child might also be motivated by getting the chance each day to show you exactly what they have accomplished or finished. Many kids thrive on positive feedback. It may also help to remind them that the teachers are checking the work that is submitted.

If your child really struggles with a subject or assignment, contact their teacher for additional advice. 

4. Allow them to interact with friends via video chats

Your children are used to lots of social contact at school, so they will definitely feel the effects of being distanced from them even after a few days. While it is not safe for your kids to be with their friends in person, you should allow them to interact with them online, beyond social media or text messaging. Video chats are often the closest thing to seeing someone in person, and are a great way to get in social time without endangering yourself or others. If your child does not regularly video chat with their friends, you can speak with other parents to set up a video chat playdate.

Virtual interactions are especially helpful for our GISW students because it also allows students (especially nonnative speakers) to practice their German, and other students to practice their English. You might be able to contact parents of native speakers and arrange for virtual playdates that focus on providing language-targeted interaction for your child. 

5. Consider rewards charts

A way to encourage your kids to get their online lessons completed is by using a reward system. This means that your kids get privileges after the work is finished. No fun until the work is done (harsh, but sometimes effective). So the burden is on your kids. You can find many rewards chart templates online that can be adjusted to suit your needs and then be printed out. Before putting in place the chart, brainstorm with your child for rewards that they would like to work towards (for example a game they like to play, picking a movie, picking dinner, making crafts, staying up late, virtual playdates etc.)

6. Lastly, but importantly 

You might also find that your child is currently simply more difficult to motivate. This is understandable, there’s been a big change in their normal routine and the systems that are normally in place have changed. It might be a case of trial and error and take some time for you to find how best to motivate your child at this time. 

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