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10 tips for parents navigating the ‘new normal’ of distance learning

Aug. 20, 2020

The statewide surge in COVID-19 cases has prompted Kamehameha Schools and other educational institutions to close their campuses and implement distance learning programs. With that in mind, our Mālama Ola team would like to offer the following suggestions for your ‘ohana as you adjust to the new reality of learning at home.

  1. CREATE A LEARNING SPACE – Your child will achieve her best work in a quiet, comfortable and dedicated space devoted to learning. If your keiki are sharing a space, encourage them to personalize their areas by decorating them.
  2. DIGITAL QUARANTINE – Consider limiting your child’s cell phone and tablet use until their schoolwork is completed so that their studies have their undivided attention. Apps, games and messaging are fun, but they can also be distracting.
  3. COMPUTER ENGAGEMENT – Monitor your child’s online engagement by observing if they’re following what’s on the screen. See if they’re taking notes or simply zoning out. If your child is not engaged, contact her kumu. Sometimes tweaking technical problems like poor audio or a patchy Internet connection can make all the difference.
  4. DIGITAL RECESS – Make sure that your keiki takes plenty of breaks in order to get physical activity and time away from digital screens. Set alarms similar to those at school and encourage them to get up, stretch, go for a walk, or play a board game so that they are not sedentary for the entire day.
  5. FACETIME – In-person interaction is ideal for kids, but until it’s safe to return to school, encourage them to video chat rather than scrolling through social media. You don’t want your children to feel socially isolated, but you do want to protect them from becoming wholly reliant upon their devices.
  6. KEEP IT OLD SCHOOL – Too much screen time can have adverse effects on young brains, so it’s essential to be careful – especially with our littlest learners. For this reason, you may want to encourage your keiki to take a break from their digital screens and pick up an engaging book or print publication.
  7. THE POSITIVITY OF PLANNING – Good planning can relieve stress for both children and parents. Help your keiki develop a written schedule for the week that teaches them to prioritize tasks. Quick, regular check-ins with your child, even during a family meal, can also help keep everyone informed and on track.
  8. THIS IS NOT A VACATION – Even though staying home from school might feel like a holiday, remind your kids that they’re not on vacation. Assignments, grades, requirements and tests like state exams, SATs, and ACTs aren’t going away just because classes have migrated online.
  9. DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN – Between school and work obligations, it’s rare for parents and children to have this much time together, so turn it into an opportunity for bonding. Organize a family game night or head outside for a hike after school. Follow statewide guidelines for safe behavior, of course, but make sure you still find time for family fun!
  10. WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER – Remember that you’re not alone in this journey. Check in with other parents to see what they’ve found effective, or to ask if they need help. Share your concerns and useful hints. It is important that we all work together as a community for the good of our children and families. If you have specific concerns, please reach out to your child’s kumu, our Mālama Ola behavioral health specialists, or a school counselor.


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