Most children going back to school will be learning 100% remotely, at least for the first few school weeks. Many schools will continue remote classes on a parttime basis to ensure proper social distancing. This means fewer engagement opportunities with their teacher and classmates and more responsibility on parents.
A child younger than eight years of age may be clingy and won't necessarily understand the difference between "homework time" and "home-play or mommy time." But there are ways to still engage with your child's learning while also establishing boundaries and instilling in them a sense of independence to complete activities and school work on their own.
Why is parent engagement so critical?
Parent engagement is recognized as one of the largest contributors to success, not only in school but also in life. The U.S. Department of Education reports that only 75 percent of American parents are high or moderately involved in school-related activities. This number continues to drop as children get older. While parental involvement naturally declines as children age and gain more independence, the effect of early, positive influence persists to adulthood.
According to the National Education Association, “Ongoing research shows that family engagement in schools improves student achievement, reduces absenteeism, and restores parents' confidence in their children's education. Students with involved parents or other caregivers earn higher grades and test scores, have better social skills, and show improved behavior.”
7 Ways to Engage With Your Child's Learning
Learn with them
Learning along with your children, is a great way to get involved. This learning approach has shown great value in supporting children, both in terms of school readiness and developing positive, long-term health behaviors. HealthStart has many ways for parents to get involved, such as our HEY! Curriculum parent materials include prompts for students to practice what they've learned at home and family-friendly recipes to make together. We also have a Snack Science Video Series where parents can follow along with their child and learn more about the science behind healthy habits.
Take brain breaks
With most classes meeting virtually right now, learning time may look slightly different, including more screen time and less time to interact and play with their classmates. After sitting still for a while staring at a screen, you may notice your child starts to become restless and lose focus. A great way to help with this is to take mini mindfulness brain breaks. Having your child get up and move around or practice some relaxing breathing techniques can help your child release that nervous energy and refocus.
Just a few minutes will do the trick! Check out our Snack Science video Ep. #16 and get your little ones moving with a fun game called Dance Attack.
Set a designated workspace
Learning from home may make it more difficult for kids to focus. That's why establishing a designated workspace at home is so important. This removes distractions and confusion around when it's time to work. You could use a guest room or a specific corner in the living room, as long as it's a comfortable and quiet place to work, it will help your child stay focused on the task at hand.
Help your child get organized
Children can become easily distracted while learning, but being organized can help them stay sharp and learn better. When your little one understands what to expect, they feel better prepared and tend to stay on task. A great place to start is to review your child's schedule with them and make sure they know what the plan is for the day. Having a set schedule will teach your child about setting priorities, so they get the most important stuff done first. Things like setting a designated time for completing homework and studying will also help them form good studying habits for the future.
Set your child up for success
There are a variety of ways to set your child up for success for each school day. Two of the most important are a nutritious breakfast and sound sleep. These two things will help boost your child's attention, span, concentration, and memory and help them stay ready to learn all day. Try setting a bedtime, so they feel rested and ready for school in the morning. Providing a nutritious breakfast full of fiber, protein, and low in added sugar will fuel your kids and prepare them for the day of learning. In general, kids who eat breakfast have more energy and do better in school. Try this recipe for Sweet Potato Boats: HERE
Lead by example
Another way to be more engaged is by showing them ways you involve what they are learning into your everyday life. When your child sees you reading a book and using math to set a budget, they understand why education is needed. This understanding will help them concentrate on their classwork and make them want to improve their skills.
Sometimes children are afraid of getting in trouble because of bad grades or not understanding something, so they aren't as willing to share that they are having a hard time. That's why experts suggest that parents check in regularly with their child's teacher, so you know how they are doing in class. This awareness helps you and your kid understand where they can improve and how you can help them do better. If you see that your child received a bad grade, resist the urge to get upset with them. Learning from mistakes is an essential part of the process. Instead, go over what they missed and contact their teacher to discuss strategies to help your child do their best in class.
We hope that these tips will help you find ways to engage with your child's learning. Your involvement will help motivate your child to want to do better in school and inspire them for a lifetime of success.
What does parent engagement mean to you? Let us know in the comments below.