A New Reality

Remote learning is the new reality for many families across the US. Some parents have decided to manage their own children’s remote learning while others have hired a tutor or nanny educator to assist with home learning. Whether you are a parent, nanny, or tutor, managing behavior can often prove to be the biggest challenge. This is often a major responsibility for classroom teachers but with remote learning this responsibility falls on someone at home with the child. It can be helpful to use some strategies when dealing with difficult behaviors.

Set Clear Behavior Expectations

It is really important to tell kids how you expect them to behave and the ways they should appropriately react to different scenarios. Since they are at home they may try to act out to avoid doing work or decide they want to play with their toys instead of learning. Some younger children and children with special needs will have more difficulty adjusting to learning at home. Children need to understand that even though they are at home they are expected to put forth their best effort. Hopefully their teachers are also reminding them of these expectations daily.

Command Respect and Give Consequences

As a parent or nanny it is essential to command respect from the children. They need to understand that you are their teacher as well as their caregiver. You will be guiding them through their schoolwork and help them structure their day. If children are not following the expectations they should be given consequences for this misbehavior. Perhaps children will lose a privilege until they start acting respectful. If children are refusing to do their work it may be helpful to contact their teacher for support and advice. The teacher could also talk with them and reiterate that they are still supposed to complete their assignments as if they were at school. It is essential to stand and your ground. Do not tolerate work avoidance behaviors or disrespect.

Provide Frequent Breaks

Young children especially benefit greatly from frequent short breaks. Children who have been working for long periods of time will often become frustrated and lose focus. Offering frequent breaks (every half hour to an hour) can help prevent misbehavior. Children often act out when they are overwhelmed and do not know how to express their emotions in a mature way. Breaks can be short – only 5-15 minutes and setting a timer can be helpful. Some examples of breaks are: eating a snack, dancing to their favorite song, playing a round of Simon Says, or even a bathroom break.

Offer Healthy Foods

Hungry kids are not happy kids and it is virtually impossible for them to focus on their schoolwork when they are hungry. It is essential that children have had enough food in order to pay attention and focus. They often need to eat more frequently than adults to keep their blood sugar up and their brains functioning. Be sure to provide snacks and lunch with protein and other nutrients that will stay with them for longer periods of time. Simple carbs found in sugary snacks will give them energy temporarily but then they will crash.

Enforce a Reasonable Bedtime

Parents may be more lax with bedtime since children do not have to wake up to go to school. It is still important that they have a consistent bedtime and are getting enough sleep so they are ready to learn. Tired children, like tired adults, cannot focus well and will often feel less motivated to do their work.

Additional Responsibility

Parents and caregivers have an additional responsibility with remote learning to manage behavior. When children are learning at home they will often try to test the waters and try to get away with things they wouldn’t do at school with their teacher. It is crucial that you demand respect and set expectations early and enforce them before misbehavior becomes the norm.

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