When acquiring a new skill, we often strive for success. When we are unable to meet our expectations (or the expectations of others), it is easy to be disheartened and give up. It also makes future attempts at acquiring said skill that much harder. If your child struggled with online learning, chances are they will be expected to struggle again and unfortunately, negative expectations will most definitely hinder performance.
So, what can be done…- ‘Growth Mindset’- a phrase many parents have heard time and time again.
1. Growth Mindset
A growth mindset is a mindset we adapt to challenges and difficulties we face. It is a concept introduced in schools starting at a young age. A growth mindset revolves around focusing on the positives, identifying our struggles, and moving forward positively. It roots our success in effort, perseverance, and resilience. The opposite of this is a concept known as ‘Fixed Mindset’. Your child (perhaps, even yourself) has likely adopted a fixed mindset to online learning. One way to notice a fixed mindset in your child is through the language they engage in. When faced with online learning, if you find your child engages in negative self-talk, they’ve likely adopted a fixed mindset. Phrases such as:
· I will never be good at online learning
· I will never learn anything online
· I am not good at online learning
· I can’t do this…
· It’s too hard
· I suck at….
· It’s easy for everyone else…
But before you correct this language, don’t forget to check yourself. Have you been engaging in a fixed mindset when it comes to online learning?
· It’s too hard for…..
· They just can’t get it….
· They will never be able to do online learning….
· It’s just too hard…
· No one can learn this way..
If you notice any signs of a fixed mindset, focus on adjusting the language used and highlighting the positives. Although online learning was difficult to adjust to, what did your child learn from the last round of online learning? What new skills did they acquire? Sit down with your child and highlight their successes rather than their failures. Don’t be afraid to get your child involved! Asked them what was something they initially found hard with online learning but now have the skills to approach the challenge? Of course, if they did struggle, address it from a solution-focused perspective which is best done through open communication.
A preoccupied mind is never good for studying or working. Be sure to open a line of communication for your child to address their worries and concerns about online learning this time around. Ask them what they felt worked and did not work last time. Honesty is key- so make sure to ask your children if there was anything that could have been set up differently to better support them. This is also a fantastic opportunity for you to share with your child your worries and expectations. Only by sharing your expectations with your child can you gauge if they need to be realigned. Chances are your child has noticed your frustrations if they have struggled with attention, focus and persistence with online learning. When children lack information, they tend to fill in the gaps themselves, often quite dramatically. To avoid any assumptions being made or jumping to conclusions, be sure to share your perspective with your child. The last thing you want to be added to your household during this difficult period is further tension. Researchers found that even before schooling had started, parents’ prediction of their child’s future academics was a strong determinant for the actual academic outcome. This just highlights the influence that parents’ perception and attitude towards a child can have on their future development. Often these perceptions are communicated through language. Missed communication between parent and child at a young age can lead to disatunement in adolescent years.
Only through communicating will you be able to find the root cause for certain behaviours. Is it a difficulty with sustained attention or is it an adverse reaction to feeling isolated during online learning? Is your child turning their camera off out of pure defiance or is there something about the online setup that pokes at your child’s social anxiety? Whatever the reason, the best step forward is always identifying the root cause of a problem rather than the problem itself. Take this opportunity to build positive bridges across this online learning journey.
Whilst some of these suggestions may not be new to you, it doesn’t hurt to take them on from a different perspective. These suggestions of course will not be able to change the regulations or tweak your child's natural attentional abilities, but they can improve your child’s sense of self and resiliency.