How to Help Your Teen with Learning from Home

With many teens not set to return to school until 18th January, it looks as though we will be returning to remote learning, at least for the next few weeks. This can be a daunting prospect for parents. Juggling homeschooling with a full-time job in a confined space can sometimes be less than easy.

There are ways in which we can make it easier on ourselves though…

Be Kind to Yourself

This is so important. You did not apply for this job as a home-school parent and you are not expected to know the National Curriculum inside and out in order to help and support your child. You are not expected to replicate the school experience. You have so much knowledge and experience to share with your teen. If your teen becomes stuck on Trigonometry and that’s not your thing, why not spend 15 minutes teaching them about mortgages or interest rates instead? I know that I wish I had learnt more about real-life Maths when I was a teen.

Be calm and positive rather than negative and controlling

When we feel overwhelmed with the amount we have to do as parents, it can be easy to slip into negative patterns of language, telling them that we are “stressed” or “fed-up.” This gives our teens the signal that the situation should make them stressed and fed up. If we are calm and relaxed about their school work, this will give them the signal to feel calm and relaxed.  

Let your teen plan their own schedule

If there is one thing my children can’t stand, it is me telling them what to do and when to do it. They both instantly switch off when I start doing this.

Ask your teen how they want their day to look. Whilst we might work most productively first thing in the morning, this is unlikely to be the case for teens. Most of the teens I know prefer a later start and a later finish. Give them a blank timetable and let them schedule their own day and then trust them to follow it. You could try to coincide your own breaktimes with the ones that they have scheduled in for themselves, so that you can “check in” with them a couple of times a day and help them to iron out any issues.

Take brain breaks

Very few adults I know are able to concentrate on Zoom for 6 hours a day and it’s the same for our teens. When they are in school, they do not concentrate solidly for 6 hours a day and to expect them to do this from home is unrealistic. Teens generally work best in 30 minute increments. Encourage them to build a ten minute brain break into their schedule every 30 minutes and they will be far more productive.

Help them chunk down their workload into manageable tasks

Often tasks will be sent via email to your teen and for some teens, looking at the long list of tasks can be overwhelming. Help them to break down the bigger tasks into smaller ones. For example, if your teen has to read 40 pages of a book, perhaps get them to read just 5 at a time. The good news is that this may be the only thing your teen will need your help with. For many teens, once they know what to do and when, they are fine to get on with it by themselves.

Offer lots of empathy and reassurance

As we keep being told, these are “unprecedented circumstances” and probably not circumstances that many of us would choose. Let your teen know that you understand it isn’t easy for them and praise them for what they do, rather than criticise them for what they don’t do. This will be far more motivating for them than being forced to stick to a punishing schedule that they haven’t chosen.

Allow them to do the things that bring them joy

You might want your teen to go outside and exercise or read a book in their free time. However, for your teen, this might just be another chore to add to the long list of other chores that they feel they have to do. It’s important that your teen gets to choose how to spend their free time in order to be happy.

If your teen needs help with planning or motivation, I offer a 30 minute complimentary discovery call for parents. Call me on 07736160225. 

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