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

escounsellors@unishanoi.org

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2, kbezzerides@unishanoi.org)

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5, esucounsellor@unishanoi.org)

Motivating Your Child At Home – Distance Learning – Week 10

Motivating Your Child At Home – Part One

Dear Parents,

Motivation is a common topic for discussion in our community these days, so if you are wondering how you can help to continue to motivate your child at home you are certainly not alone. 

Whilst younger students are developmentally eager to please their parents and teachers, the length of time that we have already engaged in distance learning is taking a toll on the motivation levels of all learners.

This article (part one of two), will make connections between how teachers work in the classroom and teaching strategies that parents can use at home to leverage quality learning. 

Reflect to move forward

Teachers are reflective practitioners. After teaching a lesson or a unit a quality teacher will typically ask themself “what can I do differently next time to improve student learning?” Good teaching teams and schools build ways for teachers to reflect together.

As parents at home, reflecting on how distance learning is going, and making small and large changes should be expected and is not a sign of defeat! Children and schools are always changing, so the learning dynamic in your home should be flowing and changing too. If you are living with a spouse or partner then we encourage you (just like our teacher teams) to reflect on the following ideas together.

Make space for learning

There are environmental cues that help students know that it’s time to work. By now, you may have already heard that (ideally) you should create a special place for your child to do their distance learning. This provides students with some cognitive clarity around the idea that “when my body is in this space, I’m here to work”. 

If you haven’t yet set up a designated space for your child to do their desk work – give it a try. And if you have set one up, now might be the time to change it up. Variety, after all, is the spice of life, and this rings true for both the classroom and home learning environment too. 

In a regular school year, teachers frequently move their desks and tables around their classrooms. This sparks student interest and refreshes their spaces. They also use the strategy of ‘regrouping’ (where children will work in different groups, in different parts of the classroom) throughout the year. 

You should get your child enthused too: ask them where they would like to set up their “new” learning space. Have your child take some pride in the space by adding motivating (but not too distracting) items to their work area like cool pens and erasers. 

Proximity is a teaching strategy that works at home too

All teachers know this trick intuitively, and the best teachers deploy it as an intentional strategy. As the old saying goes: “keep your friends close, and your distractible student closer”!

If your child is unable to complete a distance learning task independently, because their ability to manage time is still developing, or their focus wanders, then try positioning your child in closer proximity to you.

In the classroom teachers will ‘preferentially seat’ (this sounds like we are flying in business class) students so that they are physically close to them. Teachers can then preemptively provide support if the student gets stuck and they can monitor their work output to keep energy and focus up. At home you can achieve this by seating your child in a space with you nearby to provide timely help and positive reinforcement.  

Catch and Release: not just for fishing

‘Catch and release’ is a fishing technique where caught fish are unhooked and released back into the wild. 

When you are monitoring your child’s learning at home you should seek to provide them with opportunities to come to you for help and guidance, but then try to ‘release’ them to a period of independent work. How long that period is, before you ‘catch’ them again, is dependent upon their age. This is what happens in classrooms – obviously teachers don’t sit with one child all day. Instead, they cycle through their classroom, connecting with each student, providing help and then moving on. 

If you are unsure how long your child can reasonably be expected to work independently, ask your child’s teacher on our upcoming parent/teacher conference day. 

Schedules are obvious, but overlook them at your own peril!

If possible, sit down with your children at the start of the day and co-create their schedule. Just like in their classrooms they will know what is happening that day and can provide input into the order that they complete tasks. There are many articles out there to support you with this, here is an excellent one.

A topical aside: Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton was marooned with his men on the polar ice in 1915 for 16 months. According to the New York Times, “He did not lose a single man, and one of his primary tools was routine. They had a structure every day: They did exercise, they did work, they had game time, they had mealtime. And that structure kept everybody alive. I never forgot that — the power of routine.”

Keep it upbeat and invest in levity

Our last tip for this week: and that is in normal classrooms teachers use rigor, high expectations and humor and empathy in equal measures. Don’t underestimate the power of a few jokes and a brain break along the way. 

As always we are here to support.

Warmest regards, 

The UNIS ES Counseling Team

escounsellors@unishanoi.org

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2, kbezzerides@unishanoi.org)

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5, dmeikle@unishanoi.org)