Last week, I was in the kitchen doing dishes and was quietly watching my 13-year-old son staring at his computer screen during online learning. What a rare opportunity I thought! I can see if he participates, how he learns, and how his teachers engage their students.


While in earshot, I heard some class participation and noticed he was not particularly engaged. His teacher was doing her best to manage anxious and distracted students in uncharted territory. He looked up and I could tell he was uneasy about me being so close by. As a parent, it is a conundrum striking the balance between supporting your children’s learning and giving them privacy as they figure this out. There are obvious criteria to help guide a parent’s decision such as age, learning disabilities, and parent/child comfort level, but how do we prepare them for something they have never had to do? Below is a list of best practices to help your children forge ahead with an underlying theme to maintain effective habits.


  1. Most schools are making their online learning sessions very brief. Have kids leave their cell phones turned off and in another room so they can be engaged for these short periods of time.
  2. Encourage your children to ask questions and share during these sessions as that will help time pass, make the learning sessions more interesting, and utilize another support system if the opportunity presents itself.
  3. Help your children stay organized. Even though they have much less to do, it is easy for them to develop bad habits during this time. Support them in their ability to organize by asking supportive questions. Be careful of your tone and word choice in facilitating this conversation.
  4. Make sure they check email or learning portals on a daily basis again to maintain consistent habits.
  5. Sleep schedules have been drastically altered and rolling out of bed or staying in bed are not ideal ways to learn. Children should be up 30-45 minutes before class starts and have eaten.
  6. For a change, kids can be in comfortable chairs but make sure they are upright and not lying down.
  7. Children have more downtime than ever and most will resort to using screens which is okay, but parents should set time limits that may change each day. The key is to help children identify other things to do as this is a process they have never had to cope with.
  8. Create a loose routine and even have children set some S.M.A.R.T goals so they can still feel they are accomplishing something. Their goals can be related to hobbies and fun activities.
  9. With more time at home with your kids, teach them life skills you know how to do that would be helpful for them to know as they get older. My son has learned how to cook and now loves it so much he is asking me for opportunities.
  10. Bored is okay. It is the birthplace of imagination and also mindfulness. We all need to be able to express our disappointment and anxiousness while utilizing positive disruptions to take our mind off the fear of the unknown and the roller coaster of daily emotions .


Mark has been facilitating parenting workshops for the last 10 years and has worked with students of all ages during that time coaching in areas such as confidence, career skills, public speaking and emotional intelligence. Please let us know how he can help yourself, your school, your child, or your company with emotional intelligence, resiliency, and change management.


Mark Altman founded MindsetGrow  with the mission of training people of all ages and abilities to be more confident and skilled communicators. His non-traditional non-therapeutic approach helps parents and children shift mindsets and embrace generational perspectives to improve family relationship dynamics. He shows parents how to more effectively model the behavior they seek from their children and each other through empathic communication and listening.