Managing the Stresses of Distance Learning: 5 Tips for Parents and Teachers

by - September 24, 2021

There’s no doubt that the face-to-face learning modality is the one that is most familiar to school-aged children and their parents. But recently, the modality of distance learning—or learning that takes place without a student needing to be in a physical classroom—has taken off. Distance learning in itself is not a brand-new invention; in fact, many educational institutions around the world have long offered degrees, diplomas, or certificate programs that are anchored in remote learning methods. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, more primary and secondary school communities that once relied solely on face-to-face instruction have also sought to adopt distance learning and make it their own. 
The wider implementation of distance learning has demanded its fair share of growing pains, especially on the part of parents and teachers. Given how long face-to-face instruction has been the predominant mode for learning and teaching, the difficulties are to be expected. If you’re a parent or a teacher yourself, remember that it’s okay to feel out of your depth and to look for support. The students aren’t the only ones who are in the process of learning—you are, too. 

With that in mind, we present you with a list of advice for addressing the top pain points in your ongoing transition to distance learning. These tips will help you steady yourself in your role of guiding a young learner and ensure that distance learning is a fruitful and enjoyable experience for everyone. Take a page from an educational institution like Stamford American School and rethink distance learning as an insightful new experience for students, parents, and educators. 

#1 Don’t Feel Pressured to Replicate Face-to-Face Learning Processes in Their Entirety 

One major source of stress on the part of both parents and teachers is how to recreate the spirit of a physical classroom while students are at home. This may come from an awareness that students miss being around their teachers and their peers, as well as having a structured learning environment. Whether you’re an instructor or a parent who will be overseeing a home-based learning environment for their child, remind yourself that you are under no burden to replicate the face-to-face learning process entirely. Your understanding of active learning time and purposeful study will be different in the context of distance learning. The sooner the differences are embraced, the more freeing it will be to both the learner and the people who oversee their education. 

#2 See Which Technology Gaps You Need to Bridge 

Technology may be another significant cause for stress for parents and teachers. Although tech isn’t the only thing that distance education relies on, it is a major factor in how well students learn. Lack of familiarity with technology or frequent tech mishaps can get in the way of students completing lessons, and it can also compound the frustrations of both learners and their supervisors. 

Parents and teachers can address this in two ways. The first thing that both should do is align on what technology is needed for the class so that preparations (like downloading new programs or apps) can be done well in advance. Second, teachers and parents can also negotiate on the “lowest bandwidth” options that are available to students so that accessibility is less of a problem. Resolving these technology gaps as soon as possible will allow for distance learning to go on unencumbered, which students appreciate. 

#3 Seek Out Additional Resources for Collaborative and Effective Distance Learning 

Shifting to the distance learning modality means that everyone involved—students, parents, teachers, and school administrators—are in the process of learning new things. Luckily, there are a lot of resources that can help parents and teachers “sharpen the saw.” Websites like the Singapore Ministry of Education’s Student Learning Space portal can provide vital updates on the best practices in distance education. 

One such example of an emergent best practice is the flipped classroom model for learning, which encourages students to bring pre-lesson insights to the virtual classroom instead of learning the lessons from scratch for the first time. The more you know about these innovative new trends in distance education, the more confident you’ll be about guiding young learners through this new paradigm. 

#4 Allow Breathing Room in between Lessons 

In the face-to-face learning model, students were used to uninterrupted lectures and in-class activities for hours at a time. But a number of distance learning programs actually advocate something very different from this style of learning. Lessons are broken down in a way that encourages flexible learning time, longer absorption periods per concept, and independent study. 

Teachers and parents can get used to this new pace for learning and encourage students to have more breathing room in between their lessons. While they’re at home, students can mull over what they’ve learned and think more deeply about how each concept personally applies to them. This pace may also be good for parents and teachers, as there’s less pressure on them to supervise students’ learning non-stop. 

#5 Touch Base with Students Regularly About Their Distance Learning Experiences 

It may not be something that adults say aloud very often, but many of them are worried about the mental and emotional toll the new learning system is taking on young students. On top of the pressure to do well academically and to fit in with their school community, students have to deal with navigating an unfamiliar learning environment. Some aspects of distance learning may be immediately enjoyable to them, but others may be a source of mental and emotional strain. 

The best thing to do as the adult in the situation is to check up on the students under your care and see how they’re faring. Reach out on a weekly basis to see how they feel, what they’re having difficulty with, and where they could use some additional assistance. When they voice out their exact problems to you, you will feel more empowered to help them along their learning journey. 

No matter the situation, don’t forget that you are not alone in this endeavor. Many other parents and teachers are still getting the hang of distance learning along with young students. The process may feel like you’re building the plane at the same time that you’re flying it. Take it by the day, get the support you need, and approach the distance learning modality like many students are approaching it—with an open mind and a willingness to learn more.

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