How Parents Can Support Their Teens’ School Days From Home
If you’re like many parents around the country — and the world — right now, the coronavirus pandemic has upended your teen’s school schedule. Gone are the mornings of your teen packing a lunch or catching the bus; the new headquarters of the school day are right at home – likely at the kitchen table or their bedroom. So, does that suddenly cast you as your teen’s teacher, administrator, and principal combined? How can you facilitate a healthy learning environment without feeling overwhelmed and burnt-out?
First, take a deep breath. When schools close, most still remain responsible for teaching, even if through remote and virtual processes. Don’t worry about being thrust into the role of teacher overnight, and rest assured: your role is to be there for your teen as their parent first and foremost.
As your teen’s parent, here are four tips to navigating an unconventional school schedule:
- Maintain a routine, but don’t pressure yourselves to have a “full” school day.
- Appreciate that learning opportunities come in many forms.
This time in quarantine can be an opportunity to make learning come alive in new ways. There are many essential skills your teen probably hasn’t learned in school — from cleaning and cooking to budgeting and personal finance. Do you practice embroidery or calligraphy, or know a lot about cars? Teaching what you know — your hobbies and special skills — can be a bonding opportunity that becomes a memory for you and your teen to cherish.
Even something as simple as taking a walk or hike together can not only be a learning opportunity about the world around us but also a way to de-stress. Practicing meditation and relaxation can also teach your teen to calm their central nervous system.
- Don’t worry about whether your teen is falling behind.
It’s natural to stress about whether or not extended school closures will affect your teens’ learning. But remember, the whole world is at a standstill right now, and your teen is not the only student affected. When things return to normal, it will not escape any teacher’s awareness that students have had to adapt to nontraditional circumstances.
- Direct your teen to a bounty of free online resources, both educational and fun.
The Internet is a vast and incredible educational resource, and many services are offering free subscriptions due to school closures. The group Amazing Educational Resources has organized a very comprehensive list of free online experiences here. Popular tools include Khan Academy, TED-Ed, and Fiveable (which focuses on preparation for Advanced Placement classes).
Remember, there are many ways to learn. Browse this roundup of virtual science activities to rove around Mars or spot zoo animals on a livecam. Catching a cooking class, a travel show, or a documentary can also be an educational experience — even a movie night is a crash course in the art of storytelling.
Trust your teen to be self-sufficient in completing their assignments and attending their virtual classes. However, teens may still want guidance or need help structuring their days. For some teens, a consistent daily schedule with pre-coordinated blocks might work to keep the ship afloat. But it’s impossible to expect that every day will always go according to plan. Try to keep a level of consistency, but don’t expect the hours spent on school curriculum to match the hours in a “typical” school day. Bottom line: develop a routine that works for both you and your teen.
All in all, don’t worry if you’re still learning how to juggle this new reality under quarantine. Your teen is learning, too.
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