Article written by
Oakleigh Grammar Counsellor, Fiona Baudinette
As lockdowns and Remote Learning continue endlessly, the novelty has well and truly worn off. Many parents are struggling to keep their children motivated and engaged in on-line classes. The Junior and Middle school students I have spoken to, feel they haven’t really been at school this year, with Term 1 on-site learning such a distant memory. Many students and parents are worried that Remote Learning will continue into Term 4 and have increasing concerns about how to motivate their children if this is the case. I must say, like any on-going challenge with no clear end in sight, motivation becomes difficult for all, as seeing an end is a motivator. This often leads to a lower mood which further undermines motivation.
So, what can you do as a parent, to help your child find motivation and purpose for learning again? Unfortunately, there is no magic wand for this, as each child is different. Some are easy to motivate and others near impossible. It will depend too, on how many distractions they have around them – gaming, You Tube, and Social Media are of course, hugely appealing and a constant distraction for our children at the best of times. With learning now at home, these distractions are causing problems during class time. If this is the case in your house, then the first thing to consider is removing, or limiting some of these distractions during class times, as per usual class rules. This may mean moving your child’s workspace out of their bedroom, so you can monitor more closely what is happening. If you are not at home, then this will require some careful thinking to find ways of removing or reducing these distractions, whilst you are at work. You may make an agreement/contract with your child, regarding schoolwork and their distractions. However, like all agreements, it will need to be reviewed on a regular basis, to monitor effectiveness.
Uncertainty about the future also impacts motivation. The feeling of, ‘what’s the point,’ increases when we see no clear end or certainty of the future. The very reason for doing something is reduced, as this is often the basis for motivation. If there is no reason, then why should I bother? This could be the starting point for a conversation with your child. Talk to them about the reason why they should try their best to engage in classes and keep up with work commitments, especially as we don’t know when they will return to school. Depending on age, it may be difficult for them to understand the importance of completing schoolwork however, discussing it is a good place to start. For those children not so keen on school at the best of times, try and look for the positives in remote learning, as a motivator. At least they don’t have to get out of bed as early, they can eat a snack during class, play with the dog, etc. In other words, learning from home is more relaxed. Make sure they get out of their pyjamas though, as this is a little too relaxed! You may also wish to point out the possible consequences of not continuing with school work, while learning from home.
Routines are more important than ever at the moment. They provide normality and act as a motivator, because they propel you forward. So, set a routine for the day and stick to it. Get up at the same time and allow time for breakfast before the first class, rather than getting out of bed with minutes to spare. Have a screen break at the end of each day and go for a walk if possible, to get some fresh air and give eyes a rest. Eat dinner at a similar time each night and go to bed at the same time, so that scheduling homework becomes easier to navigate.
In the end, remind your children that this will end, but for now, this is our ‘normal.’ It is what it is, and we can complain or not engage in classes endlessly, but this will not help us. It will only make it twice as hard when your child does return to onsite learning. So if your children are lacking motivation, it is completely understandable, but it may be time to have a discussion about distractions, the positives, the consequences, routines, that it will end and now, is not the time to give up!