With a lot of schools going back to to online learning for the umpteenth time, parents running on nothing but fumes are less than enthused. Here is the Klikd Holy Grail of Online Learning to help you, your kids and teens get through what is hopefully the last push while still preserving your sanity.
1. KEEP THE EXPECTATION BAR AT MODERATE – this is not school, allow for the fact that our kids are not neurologically designed to be able to d a full three-hour digital stint without a break/ getting distracted. Twenty minutes straight for primary school kids….40 minutes for high school kids, and you are winning the online school jackpot.
2. THE TRIPLE “D” – DISABLE ALL THOSE DIGITAL DISTRACTIONS – incoming WhatsApp’s on the desktop, notifications of the newest TikTok post – alerts of any kind play havoc with the teen brain looking for a quick thrill. This is pretty much your only parental request. Here are some quick ways of keeping the distractions at bay.
- Disable notifications for any non-essential apps. This is easy to do in the settings of one’s phone and is good digital hygiene for everyone. Do it together as a family to kick start the new term!
- Activate the “Do Not Disturb” or “Airplane Mode” to keep digital temptation at bay during lessons/ study sessions.
- Remember with the Do Not Disturb Mode, you can select which people in your phone book can still phone you (not message) when this mode is activated (for eg, mom, dad and of course your tattoo artist. NOT. Just checking you’re still reading).
3. 20-20-20 RULE – Designed by Californian optometrist Jeffrey Anshel, the 20-20-20-20 rule is also a game changer: for every 20 minutes your child (or anyone) uses a digital device, they should take a 20-second (minimum) break, look at something 20 feet (approximately 6 metres) away to develop the depth of vision and blink at least 20 times to help lubricate the eyes.
4. GIVE THEM HAPPY DRUGS AT ‘BREAK TIME’ – A good break is a MAC break. Dr Kristy Goodwin, digital wellness expert, suggests Movement, (ii) Autonomy and (iii) Connection make up the best break. So, a sit-up competition in the lounge, 40 star jumps at 11h00, 50 at 12h00 – make the Movement fun and competitive. This allows for the hit of dopamine every teen needs to feel good, focus and get back to the grindstone. Autonomy always precious to a teen – let them decide what they want to use the break for. And connection – well maybe it’s a hug for mom, but more than likely it is a quick House Party Call with friends…let it be, because there-in also lies the connection.
5. SUNLIGHT AND SASHIMI – Sunlight is essential to good learning. The newest research from neurobiologist Michael Pollan (check him out on The Tim Ferris Show Podcast- he’s the bomb) suggests bright full-frontal sunlight for only ten minutes FIRST thing in the morning kickstarts the whole teen system into knowing it’s time to get energised, focus and later its time to sleep. Add some sashimi (read Omega’s from Dischem) and you are on a winning streak.
6. MUSIC – IS IT MADNESS? Research confirms that the right kind of background music can help students to focus. Anything that mimics the heartbeat – 60-80 beats/minute) can put your online learner into a good learning rhythm. NOTE to SELF: Kids with ADHD sometimes need louder music to drown the white noise in their head. This seems counterproductive but research suggests it may not be.
7. TRY TO AVOID DIGITAL AMPUTATION – This means don’t punish or reward with the device, extra time or data -especially during these crazy times. If we want open, easy connection, we have to allow them to see we respect their need for connection too. Right now, that is with friends online. It is what it is. Tomorrow will be better.
8. COLOUR CODE YOUR LIVES TOGETHER – Work out what time of day is your most taxing online time against their taxing online time – try to make them happen at different times of day. This means asking your child which subject or time of day they think they might need you or the bandwidth or both. Try to put your hard-core meetings into a different time slot. Put a sign on the door or the desk – Can enter, Enter on risk of Death.
9. TEA AND RUSKS AT TEN – set up regular meet ups in the kitchen so you can check in, see what you all might need, reconvene at 12h30 -kids like to know exactly when you will and won’t be available. Tell them. If you have smaller kids who tend to interrupt you more frequently, this will also help you create your own “office-hours” when you are available and make it clearer when you are not.
10. STEP BACK AND SURRENDER – The online teacher will make it happen – its not all up to you. You can’t monitor them at school and neither can keep abreast of everything at home. You are not here to enforce, you are here to encourage and assist when you can, and surrender when you can’t.
11. THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB – And of course, where possible make sure you have the right device for the job – learning on tablets (instead of sitting up at a laptop) means teens can lie on the bed for the whole online lesson …mmm less than the best. And noise-cancelling headphones are always preferable to earbud style headphones.
12. TAKE TURNS TO CREATE SNACKS BUT SNACKS THERE MUST BE! Ask for a favourites list on Friday afternoon, load up if you can but disperse sparingly as treats for honouring space, time and quiet when needed.
Pam and Sarah