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,

Elementary Counsellors: Letter to UNIS Families – Beating Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever is a term that describes the feeling of being cooped up at home, confined to an inside existence, and one that is a “catch all for the boredom and restlessness brought about by being inside for too long”*.

Whether in Hanoi or abroad, many of us are under self-quarantine. It is important to be aware of cabin fever syndrome – rooted in the feeling of confinement and isolation for an uncertain period of time. Some symptoms may include feeling irritable and restless, feeling low and lethargic, lack of patience, low stress tolerance, increased anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and decreased motivation.

Here are some strategies to help you cope with cabin fever, shared via the Western Academy of Beijing (a school that is also undergoing a period of distance learning):

  • Exercise and take a short walk outside the house whenever possible (following guidelines to help prevent exposure to the virus). Access to daylight regulates our body’s natural cycle and releases endorphins. Daily exercise is also a proven treatment for stress and low mood.
  • Keep up normal daily routine and maintain healthy eating patterns as much as possible. Routines and familiarity in times of uncertainty provide a sense of safety.
  • Avoid relying heavily on screen and tech as mindless distraction to pass time. Stimulating our minds (board games, craft, drawing, reading, crossword puzzles) helps us feel productive and reduces feelings of isolation and helplessness.
  • Maintain a positive attitude and think about how we’ve all coped with difficult situations in the past. We will overcome this too.
  • Make sure everyone gets alone time as family spends a long time together in confined spaces. It is healthy to plan and designate ‘time out’ from one another. Accept that conflict and arguments may occur between siblings, parent-children, and amongst adults.
  • Maximize the opportunities of having time inside together by taking on achievable projects such as spring cleaning, with the view to donate excess toys (etc) to a local organization. 

 Warmest regards,

The UNIS ES Counseling Team

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2,

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5,


*Being Trapped Indoors Is the Worst: The Atlantic

Beating Cabin Fever: Psychology Today

Elementary Counsellors: Letter to UNIS Families – Distance Learning Week 1

Dear UNIS Elementary School families,

It is human nature that in a crisis situation we are all in problem-solving mode and focusing on ‘doing’ something. Whether it is making plans to keep your family safe or considering contingency travel arrangements, we are all trying to do the best we can for the welfare of our children. 

At this time, we would like to encourage our community to take the time to practice self-care. We might find this to be a highly stressful and challenging period. We can help manage our anxiety by acknowledging and discussing our feelings about this situation with loved ones or with the UNIS counselors and school psychologist who are trained and equipped to deal with stressful situations like this.

Our counselors are standing by, ready to provide any social-emotional support our community needs. You can find a list of the ES counselors and their contact information at the bottom of this letter. 

Talking to your children about what is going on

Discerning adults will keep themselves updated on coronavirus outbreak from reliable sources, but children and teenagers may not be able to filter useful information for our Vietnamese context or differentiate between credible or inaccurate sources. If your child is getting the bulk of their information from social media platforms, these are notorious for rampant speculation

As such, it is important for parents to talk to their children using age-appropriate language about the virus, because understanding the infection will reduce their anxiety. Children will pick up on adults’ worries and may ask questions for which we do not have answers. It is OK for adults to say, “I don’t know, but doctors and researchers from all over the world are trying to find the answers.”

It is Ok to tell your child that they are safe, and to teach them and remind them to follow the published guidelines for staying healthy.  

Sadly, the Corona virus has and is causing fatalities internationally. When children hear reference to death, whether it be through watching TV news or hearing adults discuss it, they can become worried and anxious. Consider the age of your child, and their preparedness to understand and cope with troubling news articles before broadcasting them via devices in the public areas of your home. 

Again, depending on the age of your child, they may not have access to prior knowledge that will help them understand why school is closed and they are learning at home. For example, a young child may not know what a virus is, and how it spreads. You may discover that you will need to build age-appropriate knowledge to increase understanding and reduce anxiety.


Warmest regards, 

The UNIS ES Counseling Team

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2,

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5,