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  • 'This Is Beyond Difficult': Mom Speaks For Many Families About Remote Learning

    As a former teacher, she shares her tips how to survive remote learning.
    by SmartParenting Staff .
'This Is Beyond Difficult': Mom Speaks For Many Families About Remote Learning
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    The reality of remote learning is finally hitting home for many. And it has been tough and challenging. Moms have shared quite a few stories that make them (and us) laugh about distance education. It is funny now, but that sweat trickling down the spine is no joke when you’re trying to figure out how come your child can’t get in her virtual classroom.

    We’re here to tell you now is NOT the time to be so hard on yourself. You’re thinking you need to “accelerate” your tech and teaching skills. But many of us haven’t even developed the foundation because we never thought we’d become teachers in the first place.

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    Learning at home during a crisis

    Emily Cherkin, who used to teach middle school, puts it this way, “As an actual teacher, I am here to tell you that teaching your OWN children is a vastly different experience than teaching other people’s children.”

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    Cherkin’s quote above was part of a beautiful but grounded-in-reality essay on Medium titled “Five Ways to Help Your Kids Survive Remote Learning.” She reminded parents that remote learning happening now isn’t the same as “homeschooling.”   

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    “This is ‘learning at home during a crisis.’ I homeschool one of my two children. It does not look like this at all.”

    She continues: “There are a lot of opinions out there about what remote learning ‘should’ look like. Let me be clear: this is about trying to make the most of a bad situation, and none of this is easy or even fair. In fact, for many families, this is beyond difficult. As has been noted already during this crisis, we may be in the same storm, but we’re in different boats.”

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    How to help your kids cope with remote learning

    Emily, who describes herself as an advocate for “healthy screen use,” admits she isn’t happy with remote learning. But what choice do we have amid a pandemic? She provides three tips on “how to minimize the misery of remote learning.”

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    Build executive function skills

    Emily recommends encouraging your child to have a planner and not the kind you can find on laptops or smartphones. It has to be a notebook with real paper. 

    Emily describes executive function skills like “planning, prioritizing, organization, emotion regulation, and cognitive flexibility.” A planner will help them develop these skills by “learning to manage schedules, track assignments, and plan ahead.”

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    Encourage the use of paper and pen

    Kids now are so good with smartphones and tablets. They can figure out how to operate it better than their parents. They type words faster. But if they are typing on keyboards and staring at screens all day, Emily says they lose out on the benefits of writing with a physical paper and pen.

    “Children who must stare at a laptop screen for school will be tempted to touch the keys, toggle between windows, search the web, chat in message boxes, play video games, even stream videos…during class. So any opportunity to provide activities for restless hands during remote learning, the better.”

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    Get your kids to move

    Our kids already lead sedentary lives compared to our childhood. But with quarantine and now online learning, we have to make physical activity a priority.  

    Emily writes, “With all this excessive screen use, sitting, and lack of organized sports practices or after school activities, children will be overstimulated and underactive. We must also make room for movement every day.”

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    The World Health Organization recommends that kids need at least 60 minutes every day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activities.

    Dr. Fiona Bull, program manager for surveillance and population-based prevention on of noncommunicable diseases at WHO, says, “Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and wellbeing, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life.”

    Click here to read WHO's guidelines on physical activity for infants and kids.

    Parents are some of the resilient folks around, and they will take on anything when it comes to their kids. They make do with what is given to them. But there is also such a thing as parental burnout, and the fact the pandemic has not ended.  

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    As Cherkin says, “We can forgive ourselves for not being able to do it all — or much of it — as well as we used to.”

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    Dr. Fiona Bull, program manager for surveillance and population-based prevention on of noncommunicable diseases at WHO, says, “Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and wellbeing, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life.”
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