Online classes or remote schooling this Fall will be different from last Spring, but your family with children and emerging adults can get organized for it and figure out the time management challenges together.
Now, it is real, here for the entire academic year, not just April break to the end of last year’s school year.
Uncertainty and Patience
Your routines will take more patience as switching gears is hard. The level of uncertainty on many fronts of our lives zaps motivation. If you are a parent without ADHD, but your young person has it, it is harder to put yourself in their shoes, but you can be of great help in some key ways. If you have ADHD yourself, working with your family on new routines and scheduling for these online classes will make it easier to get yourself back into your own rituals. [My favorite ADHD podcast if you want to learn more is Translating ADHD.]
Study Space & Tools for Remote Learning
Last Spring, you set up temporary arrangements for online classes (or hybrid), which maybe were not the best, but they worked. Now, consider as a family how you can improve on each person’s work or school setup. Ask what can be improved? Ask what was most difficult about the space? Ask each person to imagine – using all their senses -what did not work and what did work.
For those with ADHD, a particular consideration which people without ADHD sometimes don’t understand is the quiet versus noisy space consideration. If the best spot for attention and engagement in schoolwork is in the middle of the family, with lots of activity and noise, that’s okay. Some people with with ADHD can focus better with something else going on. So for schoolwork to continue, this may mean some adjustments for the family, or at least portable study space ideas Ask your young adult what helps with concentration and attention. It might be different from works for you, even counter intuitive. But if it works …
Do you need to consider a stronger computer or network speed, now that you have more family members working from home and taking online classes? What other technological issues did everyone have? Is everyone’s work getting backed up consistently so it does not get lost? Remember how it has felt when you have lost your own work? Imagine you are a younger student who doesn’t know how to bounce back emotionally from the loss of work.
Set up the space with all the tools needed such as: timer, headphones, in the middle of everything or not, planner, post it notes, highlighter, folders, folder stand. If you are planning for one of your children or young adults, use the usual back-to-school tools list as a start. (This blog has my favorites.)
Consider having everyone in the family end their school/work day with a “tidy up” time. That means the space, closing out pc tabs, putting away projects, tidying up the homework or to do list. Look at the next day’s schedule. This helps the next day, so you aren’t tidying up before you can start. Nothing kills motivation more than hitting the brakes before you’ve started your day.
Scheduling: Schoolwork, Family Routines
Momentum versus motivation: “I’m not motivated” to do this. Motivation is an internal feeling. Momentum is an action or series of actions we can take to get ourselves going. Ways to find momentum? That could be doing something fun for 15 minutes before starting. It could be exercising before working or school or getting outside. It could be reviewing the day’s most interesting tasks.
Organize across classes. Visualize and write down the small steps to complete the large projects so you’re not all working at midnight the night before the deadline). A planner acts as an external brain or memory for you or your young person.
A syllabus is about the results not the steps to get to the results. Back up dates together: talk it out; draw it out; use a task per post it note. Mark on your planner/calendar what the week number is for the semester is so you have a sense of time passing. One award winning example is pictured. I’ve used this for my own online classes (no commission; it’s just a great, unique product).
Notice how your young person studies. Reading alone is not all there is to studying, and many people never learned this. Test yourself by asking questions with a partner or aloud. Use flashcards to break up the information. Draw a diagram to make the pieces fit in a way which is memorable.
Academic support services: If you wait until the school year starts, you won’t get the best options because more people are going to need added support. Start working on your resources now.
Talk as a family about the morning routine and then draw it out on paper. Everyone who needs reminders or a visual reminder will have what they need. Each will understand how their schedule needs relate to the family’s. Create it together and engage your whole family with questions; if you tell them the schedule, there won’t be the ownership and responsibility you want.
Talking & Coaching with your Young Adults during this Online School Period
These are tips from two therapists discussing the emotional, psychological side of things – the mindset shifts.
Podcast tips I thought you would find helpful:
Ask your children/emerging adults about their routines, how they are working, and let them know what you are noticing. Ask as a question – have you noticed?
Notice the positives. The uncertainty is harder for those who are younger.
Celebrate the positives in bigger ways than you typically would.
Expect that your children will make more mistakes this year due to the uncertainty, the constant change and switching gears.
If YOU have anxiety about these uncertainties, work on your own self care, so that your anxiety is not affecting your kids and adding to what they are already feeling.
When your child or emerging adult has big decisions to make, get involved. We are all tired with so much uncertainty and change, so work on things together.
Be a coach. Ask questions instead of always giving the answers. You will be teaching life skills and get more attention.
My workbook, Change Your Habits: ADHD Style would be useful for figuring out several of these challenges. Take a look and see if it might fit your circumstances. Read more here on my web site and/or order from the same page.