Family psychologist offers advice for parents with kids in remote learning

Many parents of school-age kids are preparing to help their children learn a semester's worth of information and connect with their teachers online from home.

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Rick Armstrong, WRAL multimedia journalist,
Jeff Hogan, WRAL anchor/reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — Many parents of school-age kids are preparing to help their children learn a semester’s worth of information and connect with their teachers online from home.

Dr. Kristen Wynns, owner of Wynns Family Psychology, called remote learning a sacrifice for families and said the impact on parents can be financial, social and psychological, especially as working parents play a bigger role in their child’s education.

"Many of us did not get our teaching degree in addition to our parenting credentials, so it’s a whole new world to figure that out," explained Wynns.

Wynns said it’s the unknowns that stress out parents who want to know how long the COVID-19 precautions will last, how long they may have to stay away from their jobs to supervise their child or how the whole situation might negatively impact family relationships.

"I’ve definitely seen an increase in conflict between parents and kids," said Wynns.

On the positive side, unlike when schools suddenly shutdown in the spring, parents now have time to plan.

"I think it’s most important that families have a proactive approach," said Wynns.

Wynns recommends parents manage their own stress by reaching out to their child’s teacher or teachers well before classes start. That way, Wynns said, "you can establish expectations about ‘what is this going to look like?’"

If virtual learning is new to your child, help them practice logging onto their school’s site and learning about all of the site’s functions before school starts.

Wynns also recommends working with your child to set up a regular study space away from distractions and with the necessary books and school supplies.

Wynns emphasizes the importance of structure in the child’s daily "remote learning" experience. Mimic the structure of the school environment with a time alarm to remind the child to start on the next class assignment.

A colorful, easy-to-read schedule with stickers is a useful way to organize the day. Wynns recommends that the parent go over the schedule with their child at the start of each school day.

Wynns says parents should work toward helping their younger children develop more independent study skills.

For example, for a first day, set a timer alarm for 10 minutes

"I think using timers and rewards and fun things to look forward to is helpful so parents can be teaching but not have to be actually right by the child’s side the entire day," said Wynns.

Wynns said chores, exercise and assigned school work should come before play time.

"I think having all of that spelled out is good for kids and it’s good peace of mind for the parent," Wynns said, adding that a positive attitude is key to long- term success and family happiness.

"This could be an amazing time for families to really get that quality time that was missing when we were all going a hundred miles an hour," said Wynns.

For information about locally available resources for families:

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