Motivating Your Child at Home – Distance Learning – Week 11

Motivating Your Child At Home – Part Two

It is natural that all of us – parents and children – will have our ups and downs. If your child has hit a down patch, then it might be time for you to consider (or reconsider) the tips below and how they might boost your child’s motivation. 

In this article (part two of two) we will continue to offer ideas that match teacher’s techniques from the classroom to ways you can improve motivation at home. 

Your child’s teachers constantly consider which ‘educational levers’ they can pull to make improvements in energy, motivation, and performance of their students.

Here are this week’s levers for your consideration:


Release the pressure

If your child is feeling pressure, ask yourself what the most important outcome is for your child’s learning that day. Do you run the risk of winning the battle (pushing your child to finish an assignment) while you lose the war (your child will be less and less motivated about distance learning, overtime)? 

Whilst teachers encourage, challenge and sometimes push children in their learning, they also know when a child has had enough. Stressed kids don’t learn, so sometimes it is best to call it a day and come back fresh the next day.

Time limits are fair and motivating – and this is how ‘real school’ works too

Setting realistic times for working can be key to helping kids stay on task. Our class periods in the elementary school are 50 minutes long and children have the ability to self regulate by moving around and getting water when they need to in order to work more effectively. They also have the motivating energy of sitting among their peers.  

  • For example with a Grade 2 student:  use a timer to set a 15 minute work session and then a 3 minute break (water, jumping jacks, quick chat) and then another 10 – 15 work session and then a longer break. 

A cautionary tip! Sometimes, when your child is doing well and is ‘on a roll’ we might be tempted to push them to work for a longer period of time.

When a normal school day ends and a child hasn’t finished their work or a fun project they still have to go home. In this way, children can sometimes leave school “on a high” and be eager to come back to school the next day to finish their work. At home, if you keep stretching the learning period into extra time you are likely to demotivate your child rather than get them excited to come back the next day.

In short: stick to the agreed time limits, even when your child is doing well! 

Help your child with the process, not the product

As the adult, you can use your best judgement about when to help your child with distance learning, and what to help them with

We recommend, when you are looking at the distance learning activities, to identify quick ways you can assist your child to get set up with a task and be ready to do the learning. 

For example, if a child needs to work with a template it might be more efficient for you to draw the template quickly, and unleash your child to the actual task (where the learning will take place). 

In this photo the adult at home can quickly draw the template required for a literacy task. This allows the student to jump into the learning rather than get frustrated and delayed by drawing up the guidelines.

For many children a big challenge they have with distance learning is setting up all the requirements for the lesson and managing themself and their time. Saving your child extra minutes, and potential frustration and errors by helping “scaffold” the task at hand might be a technique to deploy from time to time.  

Asking the right question leads to thinking and action

Child Effective Parent
“I don’t know what to do” “What do you think needs to happen?”
“I don’t get it” “Can you read me what the question says?”
“This is too hard.” “What is the first part of the activity? What do you need to do first?”

Parents – we don’t expect you to compel your child

Teachers ask students to be ready to learn and to give their learning their best shot. But when children at school are tired, sad or frustrated, teachers switch gears because they know children cannot learn when they aren’t in the ‘green zone’. 

Your child’s teacher would be troubled to learn that their students are being held to standards at home, during this disrupted time, that are higher than those of the normal classroom. When in doubt about how long your child should work, and what is reasonable for them to complete independently, ask your child’s teacher. 

Keep the conversation going

Continually finding (new) ways to make distance learning a success for each child is truly an example of adults needing to be flexible, responsive and open-minded. It is hard work! On our upcoming student conference day both the ES counsellors will be available via Zoom call to talk to parents about motivation – or anything else that is on their mind. The link and password to the Zoom will be sent next week. 

As always we are here to support.

Warmest regards, 

The UNIS ES Counseling Team

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2,

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5,

Parenting is a Learning Journey – Distance Learning – Week 9

Dear Parents,

This week UNICEF Vietnam shared with the community a webpage that provides parents with some timely tips and reminders. We thought it would be a good moment to share their resource. Here is the link:

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has upended family life around the world. School closures, working remote, physical distancing — it’s a lot to navigate for anyone, but especially for parents.” (from UNICEF) 

In the spirit that as parents we can all continue leaning, here are the strongest connections that we made. What was yours?

Dylan: “Make a schedule for you and your children that has time for structured activities as well as free time. This can help children feel more secure and better behaved.”

Comment: After our recent holiday I wasn’t sure how I was going to ‘dig any deeper’ and come back to guide the distance learning for my two children as well as continue to work full time. I decided to reinvest in structure and routine and this week has been our best week at home yet. With my two children we start the day like a school day – the girls get dressed and ready for their day – before their first Zoom call. After the call we create a schedule of all the work that they need to do (in two attractive colors, of course!) and we add little boxes for each item that they have learned to enjoy checking off. Part of the routine is that we put a limit on the time that we spend on our daily learning: all work must be done by 12 noon and then the children make themselves lunch.

Kris: “Take a pause. Feel like screaming? Give yourself a 10-second pause. Breathe in and out slowly five times. Then try to respond in a calmer way. Millions of parents say this helps – a lot!”

Comment: With so much ‘together’ time and the responsibilities mounting I can feel my voice reaching a volume that is highly undesirable by all. As a counsellor I teach students about stopping, breathing and thinking before they act. Now it’s time to hone that practice myself. When I felt myself about to yell the other day I stopped and counted to 10 and took a deep breath. It worked and I was able to get back to the task at hand in a much calmer state.

We also humbly direct you to our Week 4 letter about the importance of routines. This letter includes information, links and some self-assessment about how some basic parenting routines may set us all up for success. How have bedtimes, morning routines and your child’s levels of independence and responsibility changed during this time?

As always we are here to support.

Warmest regards, 

The UNIS ES Counselling Team

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2,

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5, 

Another Way for Students to Connect

As parents we often have deep, thoughtful conversations at home with our children. These chats are often a source of happiness for parents, as they allow us to appreciate our growing child’s thoughts on how they see and experience their world and self.

Sometimes, it becomes apparent that our child is dealing with an uncomfortable situation with peers at schools. In the normal excitement and hustle-bustle of school life it is possible that some students experience a negative interaction with a classmate or friend that isn’t immediately noticed by an adult.

Whilst it might be our protective instinct to offer to intervene on our child’s behalf, many parents know deep down that it is far better to teach their child to speak up and get help on their own. Naturally, building independence and confidence is important, but what can we do if our child is reluctant to speak to their teachers about their problem?

One solution offered to students in grades 3-5 at UNIS Hanoi is a special email address that students can write a message to. We know that some children prefer to write than speak for a variety of reasons, especially if they are feeling shy or unsure.

If you are eager for your child to speak up about an issue that is bothering them, whether it might be a argument with a friend that is unresolved or perhaps a more serious ongoing interpersonal concern, you can direct them to email

Emails sent to this address are treated confidentially, and follow-up by the right faculty member is ensured.

Kindest regards,

Dylan Meikle

ES Counsellor