Schoolwork and academic learning have always been viewed as a responsibility shared between teacher and student. However, due to the recent pandemic, the virtual involvement of teachers has understandably become less engaging and more distant.
The spotlight is now on the students to take responsibility for their learning. That being said, a parent’s cooperation will go a long way in alleviating that weight off of the student’s shoulders during this difficult time. Some ways parents can help students include: actively engaging with the student’s work, facilitating and systemizing effective work habits, as well as acknowledging and rewarding the student’s efforts.
Active Interest and Engagement
Taking an active role and interest in the student’s schoolwork does NOT mean that you have to help them with particular topics or teach them in any way. Instead, ask them about their homework and assignments. How do they feel about it? How are they doing? Are there any particular topics they are struggling with?
If they are having problems, advise them to email their teachers or notify their tutors. Make sure to follow up with them after every session and see how they did today and what their concerns are. As a general rule of thumb, when students feel that parents are engaged and aware of their progress in school, they are often more likely to assign intrinsic importance to their academics and (as a result) pay more attention to their schoolwork.
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Facilitate and Systemize
In other words, this means providing students with what they need to successfully to do this work and systemize efficient working environments and habits to make it a routine occurrence in the household. This could mean giving them a quiet corner of the house to work in, allocating a defined “homework time” in the day for everybody, minimizing or eliminating distractions during this “homework time”, and making these features an everyday habit in the house.
This particular tip is relatively simple but vital nonetheless since some students might struggle in establishing this sense of routine independently. As such, having the necessary “prerequisites” for schoolwork readily available and built into their day-to-day by parents could be an invaluable resource for students to help jump-start a sense of habitual obligation to doing their schoolwork.
Acknowledge and Reward
Self-motivation should always be promoted as the primary (and healthy) reason for doing any schoolwork. However, encouraging students to celebrate small wins in their day-to-day work can help them feel appreciated and validated during this unusual and confusing time.
This is particularly important now as they are cut off from their usual sources of academic validation such as their teachers and peers. These rewards can vary from a few words of encouragement to even a small treat if the student has completed a particularly difficult assignment.
Acts like these not only help acknowledge and celebrate the student’s efforts but can even encourage a further sense of academic responsibility.
Until schools resume normal operations and the student is surrounded by routine systems of education, it can be up to parents to help emulate and enforce those systems at home. Doing so can help maintain a student’s academic interest and develop a stronger work ethic which will prove a valuable asset long after the pandemic has passed.