Keeping the Learning on Track

These are strange times, as children and parents adjust to learning at home. Children tend to behave differently when learning at school than they do in their downtime at home. Your child may shut down when it comes to learning something he or she would rather avoid or be easily distracted and have trouble paying attention. Learning at school also involves a social component of learning with friends that is likely absent in the home. In such instances, learning by oneself can be very difficult for some children and may cause them to be less independent or need more help from you.

So how can you help manage behaviors brought about these unusual circumstances and still keep your child’s learning on track? In the classroom, teachers often use charts to track progress and remind children of the expectations. These charts can help children in several ways. Not only are they a nice integration of math concepts (through the use of graphs and tables), they also keep the child focused on the kinds of behaviors that are expected, what needs to be done, and for how long.

When using a progress chart, keep these tips in mind:

  • Talk to your child about the system you’re using. It should be simple and easy to understand.
  • Choose a few target behaviors that you’d like to track throughout the day, and display them on the chart. Examples include listening carefully during instruction time, putting away materials when finished with them, using kind words when talking to siblings, etc. Choose target goals based on your child’s needs, and don’t be afraid to change goals if needs change. Make sure that goals are specific and clear to your child. 
  • Display the chart so that it’s easily visible and accessible. Have your child check off goals as accomplishments are met.
  • Set up smaller rewards for accomplishing daily goals and larger rewards for weekly and monthly goals. Have your child participate in choosing rewards. 

Dealing with new behaviors while trying to manage homelife, school expectations, and working from home can be challenging and even overwhelming for parents. But don’t give up! Don’t try to tackle multiple behaviors at once. Focus on improving one behavior at a time. When that behavior has improved, focus on another one. Try to identify the cause of the behaviors you hope to change. Is your child seeking attention? Is he or she frustrated with schoolwork? Identifying the cause will help you determine an appropriate course of action. 

And remember, praise your child when he or she exhibits behaviors you want to see. By calling attention to those behaviors, your child is more likely to keep them up. Together, you can make this new reality one that works for everyone!