When your child is a virtual learner, it can sometimes be tricky switching back and forth between playing the role of a parent to the role of being a learning coach. It helps to be able to see the two as separate roles that need to be on the same page to direct your teen towards the end goal: high school graduation.
In this post, we will go over some helpful tips on keeping the two roles separate from each other and also help you define each role so you know how they differ.
The Role of a Parent
Remember, the role of the parent is to be loving, nurturing, and caring to your child. It’s important that you keep in mind both their physical and emotional needs. When you “play” this role, you help your child develop many characteristics such as their ability to empathize with someone, to be nurturing, trustworthy, etc. This is also a great time to teach your kids to handle situations in a positive way by teaching them how to be a problem solver.
As a parent, these traits come naturally because you are hard at work actively listening, letting your child know that they matter and that you hear them, playing with your children, showing affection, and building strong relationships with those around you. When you are the parent of a virtual learner, this includes actively seeking opportunities within your community for your child to socialize. These activities allow them to interact with others their same age and develop those much needed social skills. Get them involved in 4-H, community theater, sports groups offered at the rec center, or faith-based organizations. These groups will help build up your teen’s self-esteem, communication skills, and leadership skills.
Life throws us curveballs and it’s impossible to be the fun, carefree parent all the time. Sometimes life presents us with times when we need to be “the bad guy” and hand down discipline or strongly enforce some rules. Those times might be hard but they are necessary in parenting. One way to handle tough situations is to remember that it’s a teachable moment. Did your child get a poor grade? Were they unkind to someone? Did they act carelessly in a choice they made? While discipline may be called for, you can also encourage them to do better next time and use it as a time to give them skills they need to handle the situation better, should the situation arise again.
When you are in the “parent” role, just as you need to discipline, you can also reward good behavior and actions. Let your child know that you are proud of them and congratulate them on a job well done. Your child may increase their work performance if a reward system is put into place. It may also give them that extra motivation that they need to excel.
Being a parent is natural. The hard part may be knowing how to handle the role of the learning coach. Let’s look into that now.
The Role of a Learning Coach
When your child learns virtually, it takes some practice and patience to train them to focus on their studies. A good rule of thumb is to create a schedule with your student. This helps them know the expectations that are on their plate that day and provides some structure. This structure and guidelines will help keep your student focused on their studies.
Think back to when your child was a toddler. Everyone probably preached that consistency and structure are keys to a happy kid. The same rules apply even into the teenage years. Providing structure to your teen’s day is of utmost importance. Let them know what is expected of them during their “school day” and things won’t catch them off guard.
Some simple ways to create structure are:
- Have a daily schedule.
- Set limits on screen time.
- Offer help with school work only when asked. Let them try to figure it out first.
- Give them chores and rewards once they are completed.
As a parent, you want to make things easy for your child. As a learning coach, you have to resist those urges and let them try to work things out on their own before jumping in and helping them. If they are begging for help before even trying, tell them you will set a timer for them to problem solve themselves. If they are still stuck once the timer goes off, then you will sit down and help them. This encourages independence and develops better learners over time.
If your child is a master at pushing your buttons, let them know it will not be tolerated. If they begin to exhibit negative behaviors towards you, themselves, or others, encourage them to find positive solutions and redirect their energy.
There may come a time where your student puts up a fight and doesn’t want to do their schooling. Their motivation may be lost. Encourage them to see how what they are learning today will come into play later on in their everyday lives. Sometimes students fail to see how something such as learning a math equation will have real-world application, but it does, so it’s important that they learn the lessons at hand. If math is a problem subject for your student check out this article, and remember, you can always reach out to your teen’s teacher or mentors for guidance should this become an issue.
Switching Between the Roles
It can be difficult stepping out of the nurturing parent role to take a firmer stance as a learning coach but it is needed when your child is a virtual learner. It’s all about creating a balance and positive learning environment for your student. All of your hard work will pay off and your teen will be better because of your involvement.
What struggles have you faced when playing both roles? Let us know in the comments section and on our Facebook page. There are others out there who could learn from your first-hand experience! If you ever need help coaching your student, feel free to give us a call at 800-297-2119.