Pandemic Home School: Builds or Busts Parent/Child Relations

How to help frustrated or unmotivated students.

Posted Aug 29, 2020

Does your child get up for homeschool on his own and complete tasks without coaxing? Will she problem-solve her technology without interrupting you? Do any of you overreact and the day heads south, fast?

L Oberlin Shutterstock Purchase
Motivation is only one hardship of pandemic home school
Source: L Oberlin Shutterstock Purchase

How Does Your Child Learn? Psychologist Howard Gardner is best known for expanding definitions of intelligence. In the ’80s, he introduced the idea of multiple intelligences believing that the conventional concept, upon which most education was based, remained too restrictive.

Gardner posited that individuals possess any combination of eight: logical/mathematical, linguistic, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, naturalist, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences.1

Often, children put forth little to no effort because they’re bored, overwhelmed, or convinced they are stupid. As they get older, some shut down to learning due to anxiety, a bar set too high, social drama, or not even understanding the point behind school.

Must-Have Resource: You’re Smarter Than You Think: A Kid’s Guide to Multiple Intelligences, written on the sixth-grade level, explains this theory in kid-friendly phrasing; i.e., linguistics gets dubbed Word Smart and intrapersonal becomes Self Smart. Author Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. researched a ninth style: Life Smart, which means thinking and asking about deeper things, the universe, and spirituality.2

 Loriann Oberlin, MS, LCPC
Does your back to school book shelf stock any of these supplies?
Source: Loriann Oberlin, MS, LCPC

Example: When kids were first confined to Zoom lessons, one parent witnessed her 11-year-old child’s eyes glaze over the food chain lesson, though as his defacto lunch aide plus special-ed assistant, she knew him to be quite the omnivore. He was also very much the body and nature smart student.

On his next break, Mom took her son for a walk in their coastal community. They talked about each animal and bird they saw. She pointed out the osprey (predators or carnivores) in a nearby nest. They swoop down to feed on large fish, food chain consumers, who feed upon underwater grasses or oysters (bivalves or herbivores). Oysters and other lower-level producers feed upon plants that derive energy from the sun, such as algae or phytoplankton living on the bottom. Decomposers return nutrients to the soil or seabed, and thus with water and sun, the ecosystem keeps functioning and evolving.

How Social or Withdrawn Is Your Child? The American Academy of Pediatrics released guidance during the 2020 Pandemic that school not only educates children, but it addresses racial and social inequity. It exposes them to different groups of people, providing vital mental and social stimulation. Without outlets for self-expression and camaraderie, children may withdraw into their rooms using even more technology, thereby isolating themselves. What’s a parent to do?

Must-Have Resource: The Survival Guide for Kids With Behavior Challenges uses generous graphics, sidebars, bulleted text, and anecdotes to demonstrate how to deal with difficult people, make better choices, keep friends, contribute at home and develop character.3 One of the coolest nuggets is the compliment sandwich when asking kids for their help, sprinkled between the request and reminder.

Pixabay/L. Oberlin
finding your learning style is crucial to success
Source: Pixabay/L. Oberlin

Example: Tameka knew that Dad had to work for his job nearby but in another room. When school started, she got frustrated if he was on a work call or in the middle of crunching numbers and couldn’t solve her tech issue right that second. After dinner, most nights Tameka got sent to her room due to her frustration that escalated to rudeness when she lobbed generalizations at Dad. “You always care about work more than me. You’re an idiot!”

This behavior started to seep into interactions with classmates on Zoom. With time, Tameka calmed down enough to have a real heart to heart talk. Dad offered to arrange telehealth appointments for her to learn better skills and work on her weaknesses with a counselor, and she agreed. Tameka grew more patient, tolerant, and learned to use “I messages” when she spoke.

This COVID-19 crisis has been hard on everyone, adults, children, and teens alike. Parents may see outright school refusal, where there’s a heels-in-the-carpet effort to avoid lessons, teachers, homework, and progress. In an on-site school, bullying may be the culprit. Otherwise, experts believe that major disruptions in a child’s life—a move, divorce, illness, death in the family, or even puberty—can be enough to sidetrack kids from their one job at this age, which is getting through school.

Must-Try Tips: If school refusal plagues your home, look at the structure, for kids need more not less of it. Are school and home too rigid or punitive? This backfires, as does becoming too lenient and letting kids out of a responsibility which is theirs. Herein, we go back to understanding learning styles, as well as the basics of self-care. All of us need a healthy diet, exercise, frequent breaks to stretch or move, laughter, downtime, and fun plus a good night’s sleep.

Copyright @ 2020 by Loriann Oberlin. All rights reserved.

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2. T. Armstrong, You're Smarter Than You Think: A Kid's Guide to Multiple Intelligences (Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing, 2014)

3. T. McIntyre, The Survival Guide for Kids with Behavior Challenges: How to Make Good Choices and Stay Out of Trouble (Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing, 2013)