Transitioning to home-learning is a big change for our students and us as parents. Many of the same positive, proactive supports that we put in place in your children’s classroom can be adapted for the home setting. Here are four suggestions for at-home behaviour supports to help make remote learning time more successful.
Try to provide warnings ahead of transitions:
When it is time to transition from one activity to another, give clear directions such as, “In five minutes, we are going to turn off the TV and start our maths assignment.” Positive reinforcement is a help, so provide praise when your child transitions well: “Thanks for turning off the TV. Grab your notebook and pencil and meet me at the kitchen table.”
Discuss with your child your expectations for when you also have work to do:
During this time, many parents are juggling working at home with home schooling, and transitions and boundaries help things run smoother. This could be actions such as, “When I am on a conference call, you can write down your question and hand it to me,” or “If you get hungry while I am working, I set out three snack choices for you,” or “If you can’t figure out this assignment while I am on a work call, you can read until I can help you.”
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At school our students are encouraged to ask a friend before asking their teacher if they have questions about an assignment. You can encourage your child to ask an older sibling (if available). Use technology to your advantage as well! You can have your child ask “Alexa” or “Google” how to spell a word or define a word if you have a smart speaker. Encourage your child to email their teacher with questions as opposed to you doing it for them.
Create a family positive behaviour system:
This is uncharted territory for us both as educators and parents. Look to create a system that rewards the behaviours we want our children to display and all work together. This could be a poster where you all earn stars for being helpful or kind or following directions without whining. Once your family gets a certain number of stars (start low, you want this to be attainable within a week or less) they can earn a fun family reward. A nature scavenger hunt, a special cooking project, or a family indoor picnic or movie night are all fun rewards.
Another positive support that many students are familiar with is putting a marble (you can use pebbles, or cotton balls as well) for displaying certain behaviours. Try to target one thing at a time and be specific – “Listening to mum and dad on the first ask” is always a good one. Put an item in the jar each time that behaviour is displayed and when the jar is filled, they can turn it in for a fun activity (see suggestions above). I would suggest having these systems be something all kids in the family are working towards together to encourage working as a family team.
About the Author
Alexa Halbert is a certified Behavioural Analysist. She has worked in the field of applied behaviour for over seven years. During this time, she has worked with a wide range of students with special needs. She helps parents with customised behaviour intervention plans for home or school.
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