With teens all around Australia, and the world, being thrown into online learning without much preparation, there have been many challenges that families and schools have had to face. There are tools and strategies for supporting teenagers in online learning and keeping them engaged.
Traditional schooling has been changing into something new and different for decades now, but the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly rushed things. At one point or another, most schools around the world switched to online classes completely, forcing teachers, students and parents everywhere to adjust to the new situation. One of the reasons this transition to online learning wasn’t easy for students and their parents was that finding ways to motivate children to keep working as hard or even harder than they did in their classroom became difficult.
If you feel like your teenagers need a little push now and then to stay on top of their curriculum online, here are some good ideas on how to help them.
1. Create a Classroom Atmosphere
If you’re one of the millions of people who, all of a sudden, had to start working from home, you know that it was sometimes next to impossible to work uninterruptedly. It’s the same for children. Although they’re not at school, it’s essential that you make sure their surroundings say it’s time for school. This means that the TV is off, that there aren’t any younger children running around and breaking their focus and that they don’t use their devices for games, social networks and unnecessary communication with their friends while they’re working on any sort of school assignment. This can get tricky, as they sometimes have to get information on what they’re supposed to do from either their teachers, or their peers, but you have to control them to some extent.
Also, if they’re having a live class with their teacher through an online platform, they need to have a computer that works properly, as well as a pair of speakers and a microphone, and perhaps a camera. When everything around them is adapted to school-related activities, they won’t find online learning as inconvenient as they might.
2. Use the Internet Properly
While teachers tend to make themselves available for any questions or dilemmas their students may have, sometimes it will be up to your child to find data or solutions for their problems online. Today’s generation of children is familiar with how the internet works, but it can sometimes be complicated for them to find just what they are looking for at that particular moment. Try showing them how the internet can be used to research different topics, help them expand their knowledge and find good study materials.
For instance, New Zealand is among the top 5 countries in the world when it comes to the amount of time their 15-year-olds spend on the internet. They’re also an example of good practice, as they are familiar with how to find excellent multiple resources, such as quality NCEA past papers, which were written by other students who studied one of the subjects NCEA tests cover. Platforms like these also allow students to swap their personal study resources with others’, giving them an additional incentive to keep all of their notes systematic and to do their best when writing essays or doing various assignments. When children know how to extract what they need from the plethora of information on the web, it makes them more efficient in the way they spend their hours online.
3. Rely on Feedback
Sometimes a child wants to do their homework, but they’re unable to, simply because they don’t know exactly what it is that they have to do or if what they’re doing is correct. In such cases, don’t forget that communication is essential. First of all, they should talk to their teachers and perhaps send them a draft of what they’re doing and ask for the teachers’ feedback. Some reassurance or a few pointers could be all your teenager needs to do excellent work. Also, you should find time to sit down and help your child by giving them your own opinion or to figure out something together that they couldn’t on their own. Your child will appreciate the assistance and will be more for it.
Finally, it would also be an amazing idea for your child to send their teachers feedback on the online materials and lessons. You can even give the teachers feedback yourself. Maybe the teachers aren’t always clear enough on the requirements of their tasks, or a child simply needs some extra support, but the teachers are unaware of it until they’re told so.
4. Stick to a Schedule
In normal circumstances, you’d know exactly when your teenagers’ classes start, what time they have to get up so as not to be late for school and what time they’ll be back home, which is something that gives structure to children of all ages. However, in online learning, it isn’t uncommon for children to be given the freedom to do their studying and to fulfil their school-related obligations at a time that suits them best, as long as they hand something in before a deadline. Many times, this leads to children doing something hectically at the last second. Not only does this cause them stress, but the hastiness makes them prone to making mistakes, which is also a huge problem.
Some of your children’s online classes will already be scheduled for a certain time, but others won’t. It’s up to you to help them organise their time better and assist them in making a schedule and sticking to it. This means working at the same time every day, studying, doing homework and taking regular breaks in accordance with a timetable you create together. That way they won’t hand anything in late and they’ll know when their school day ends, even if they’re not really at school.
Although online learning can be confusing and exhausting at times, it still has some good sides. Once your child is maximally engaged in their online studying, they’ll feel more comfortable with it and will be able to excel academically just as well as they would at a traditional school.