5 ways how parents can help kids thrive with distance learning

Homeschooling mom Michelle Lim Padrelanan shares her tried-and-tested tips

In the past, homeschooling was a choice that was carefully made by parents. Parents took the time to study it and see if this kind of home education suits their families. When the pandemic took over our lives, it changed our education choices. Now we have no choice but to take on home-based learning for the safety of our children. 

Last year, it was all about survival. Schools had to come up with the best method to ensure that education continues for children. Filipino families were challenged—and are still challenged until now. From the absence of gadgets and the lack of  good internet connection to the lack of enjoyment of being with classmates in school to the challenges of teachers who have to manage their classrooms online and to the child who is struggling to stay interested in an online class, families have faced all of these and more. 

WHAT A JOURNEY. Michelle Padrelanan and family at her eldest daughter's graduation from college.

Now that we are in the second year of home-based learning, specifically distance or online learning, many parents are now eager to find ways to make it a better experience for their families. 

As a homeschooling mom for the last 19 years as well as a virtual tutor for children who are in grades 3 to 4, I’ve gained insights into how we can help our children thrive with distance learning. Here are my top five tips to help you and your children thrive at home: 

1. Equip them with the skills that they need.
Teach your child the digital tools that he will need to use in learning. One of the skills that will benefit a student the most is the ability to touch type. With this, note-taking will be faster and precise. Children can learn to type online with free and paid typing courses. This is one skill that will benefit them all their lives. 

Help them use word processors, spreadsheets, and graphic design sites. It will certainly make studying easier. Work with your children to help them understand the tools that their school is using.  

It’s important, too, not to expect them to automatically know what to do. Instead,  supervise them until they can do their work independently. They’ll need our guidance as they master their tools. 

2. Move, move, move!
Keep your children—both younger ones and the teens—physically fit and active. Vitamin D is free if you let them play outside your home in the early morning and late afternoon hours. Incorporate breathing exercises to help them be calm and at peace during the day. 

Allow lots of playtime so they can move their bodies to combat the sedentary nature of studying online or studying at the table. Exercise also helps their mental health because of the oxytocin that is produced by our bodies. 

Symptoms of depression will decrease, anxious feelings are controlled and loneliness is curbed. Physical activity also helps to improve children’s focus, quality of sleep and increases energy levels. If you can be physically active with your child, that would be a big bonus since you’ll be able to spend time together and get some exercise!

3. Be their “safe space.”
We are all living in trying times due to the pandemic, and our children are not exempt. This is why we must do what we can to give them emotional and psychological support. 

Did you know that an intelligent child may not perform well in school if he is not supported at home? But an average child may perform excellently if he is secure in his home environment. 

Now that we are all mostly staying at home, let’s take advantage of this season by consciously making the effort to spend time with our children and get to know them. 

Children are brimming with ideas and questions that beg to be answered. Our undistracted attention will go a long way in forging a great relationship between parent and child. 

When a child’s need for love, affection, and understanding is met, and emotional support is wholeheartedly given, there is nothing that a child cannot do. 

4. Affirm and honor your child’s identity.
Let your child be the unique individual that he or she is. Each one of us was created by God with abilities and skills that are unique to us. Discover what those skills are and nurture them. 

Don’t look at what your kids lack. Instead, find what they are already good at then help them to be very good at it. Your tender, loving patience in developing your child will send them soaring to great heights as they grow.

5. Resilience is key. 
Teach your kids to be mentally and emotionally resilient to withstand challenges. Children can learn this through the games that you play with them. Yes, teach them to play to win but more importantly, teach them to accept losses gracefully. Let them know that we don’t and can’t win all the time. 

Most of the time, we all need to work hard to get what we want. This is an attitude that they need to learn early on. The best way to teach this is to be the model yourself. When your children see that you are keeping on despite the challenges, they’ll practice the same when they, too, are faced with challenges. 

This list may not look like a list that will ensure your child’s academic performance.It’s actually more like a “heart list”—a list of ways to help your child’s whole being because, based on my 19 plus years of homeschooling, our family has discovered that, more than the academic proficiency, it is reaching the heart of your child that is the key to lifelong learning. 

How to get the inspiration and advice you need to make this school year better
If you want to get more encouraging tips and practical advice for helping your kids—and your whole family—thrive despite this pandemic, I invite you to join me and my fellow homeschooling moms from Educating for Life at “The Educating for Life Show.” This is a bi-weekly online show that will be premiering on October 15 on our Events by Educating for Life Facebook page, as a “continuation” of sorts of the recently held Connect Homeschooling and Intentional Parenting Summit (CHIPS) 2021: Thrive at Home (#CHIPSThriveAtHome). 

CHIPSThriveAtHome was an online event….

Participants were able to access the event anytime up to August 31, 2021, so they could keep learning from all the Summit talks.

Driven by our group’s desire to help families, #CHIPSThriveatHome features bite-sized learning sessions for families who are already homeschooling, exploring or preparing for homeschooling, or struggling with the challenges of their kids learning at home via distance learning. 

Our lineup of 30 plus speakers included Julius and Tintin Babao, Joe and Rica Bonifacio, Bo Sanchez, Dr. Queena Lee-Chua, Dr. Michele Alignay, Professor Nina Era, and Kenneth Lingan, as well as international speakers Andrew Pudewa and Julie Bogart. 

With talks focused on the sub-themes Thrive In Your Mind, Thrive in Learning, and Thrive in Family Relationships, our goal was to equip families with strategies for joyful homeschooling and distance learning. Based on the feedback from participants, it seems that we have achieved our goal.

One participant, mom of two Jasmine Dizon, said, “This is one of the events every Filipino parent should attend.” 

Participant Trinah Saguigit-Fulgar, who is based in Ilocos Norte, shared that she thoroughly enjoyed all the talks: "Hindi lang po kami natuwa at natuto... Naantig din po ang aming mga puso at maraming mga realisasyon na aming gagamitin sa aming pang araw araw na buhay lalo na sa pagiging magulang at sa homeschooling."

Clarice Estipona, another participant, said that she learned so many things in the span of three days. “I feel so refreshed and renewed!” she told us.

We are truly grateful to everyone who has made #CHIPSThriveAtHome a success, especially our speakers, sponsors, media partners, and supporters. In case you weren’t able to join us, you can reach out to us for more empowering and inspiring resources via our website educatingforlife.net and our Facebook page: Events by Educating for Life.

About the author: Michelle Lim Padrelanan is a homeschooling mom for 19 years and counting. She has two homeschool graduates who graduated at the top of their class in college. She plans to keep on homeschooling until her youngest son finishes high school four years from now. She is a staunch homeschool advocate, speaker, and blogger, and is one of the co-founders of Educating for Life, the creators of the Philippine Homeschool Convention and the Connect Homeschooling and Intentional Parenting Summit. She is also the past president of the Rotary Club of Sunvalley Sunrise where she gets to use her time, treasure, and talent to serve the community. To get in touch with Michelle, send her an e-mail at michelle@educatingforlife.net