QuaranTEEN Back to School: How to Help Your Teen With Online Learning

Teen Schooling and Online Learning

I’m terrified to send my teen to school! And I’m scared to trust them with online learning on their own!

During quarantine, my teen barely finished the school assignments to wrap up the 2019-2020 school year. I’m afraid my teen won’t be successful with online studies this fall.

I don’t want to be the online assignment police, but how do I help my teen stay on track?

These are a few of the concerns and questions I’ve heard from parents during the pandemic. What’s a parent to do?

1. Take care of yourself.

When dealing with a crisis involving your teen, it seems counterintuitive to focus on yourself. But it really is the best place to start problem solving. Flight attendants (when we used to fly) tell us to put your mask on first during a crisis drop in pressure. It’s the same for parenting in a pandemic.

Make sure you are resting, eating well, getting some exercise, praying and meditating, getting outside and connecting with friends. Its true, you can’t help them if you don’t help yourself.

Self-care is a vital part of the solution to the concerns above. You can’t have credibility about self-care regarding your teens, if you aren’t practicing it for yourself.

Maintaining a calm center is always the source of effective solution-making.


2. Engage Your Teen in School Decisions: Trust Yourself and Your Teen

The entire nation is wrestling with how to go back to school. School districts are attempting to plan for every contingency of social distancing, knowing that many practices aren’t realistic. Online alternatives are being explored without scalable platforms and timely professional development for teachers. Some school districts are developing hybrid models.

As parents, we are charged with balancing our child’s health and educational needs. But our teens are autonomous beings. It is their life! Therefore, ask them their opinion about how to approach school.

Open ended questions work to engage teens because they communicate your opinion matters. Open ended questions are questions that cannot be answered by yes or no. Open ended questions invite elaboration.

Use a few statements to introduce the topic. Be careful not to slip into lecturing. Lecturing shuts teens down.

Example to Introduce Topic

I’ve heard your school is going to open classes in the fall full time for the full student body and make students use masks and sanitize the building daily. I’m worried that might not be enough to stop the spread of the virus. What do you think about it?

Parents are responsible for making the decision that they believe is in the best interest of their teen and many factors may affect that decision, the parents job and need for child-care, whether or not you live in a hot spot with outbreaks or your families health status generally as well as many others.

We should not miss the opportunity to engage teens in collaborative decision-making. They are more effective and produce better outcomes for teens and adults. No one likes to be told what to do. Since this is one of the most important decisions in a teen’s life for health and education, why wouldn’t we ask them about it?

Conversation Starters: 

I know you have missed your friends during the quarantine, but I see how much you spend time online. What do you think about finding an online option for school this year? 

How would you stay motivated to study?

I think some classes are interactive. How do you think that would work for you?


3. Online School Motivation with Teens: Extrinsic or Intrinsic

If you choose a hybrid online learning model or a full online learning model collaboratively with your teen, it doesn’t solve the motivation problem to get the work done!

Motivating students to do online schoolwork can be extrinsic where the teen is rewarded for accomplishing a milestone or intrinsic because the teen’s personality or value system enjoys academics and is naturally geared towards college entrance.

Simply, extroverted teens who recharge their batteries through interaction with others, may have a tougher time with online education while introverted teens may find that they prefer online education.

Some parents may balk at extrinsic motivation, particularly conscious parents who want to cooperate with their teen’s learning style. But you and I, as adults, are extrinsically motivated by a paycheck every other week or month. It’s the way the world works. Teens will eventually get a diploma but that requires delayed gratification and may seem light years away, without the promise of a traditional graduation ceremony or contact with their friends.

I ask parents to discuss motivation openly with their teen and ask what they can do to help their teen accomplish their goals.

Try This

  • How can I help you stay on track with your online schoolwork?  And wait for their responses. They may say, nothing. To which you can respond.
  • Okay, but if you have trouble, I’m going to ask how it’s going again.

If you believe an extrinsic motivator might work for your teen’s personality orientation, then you can offer it like this.

Conversation Opener to Discuss Extrinsic Motivators

I know I would find it hard to stay motivated for my job if I didn’t receive a paycheck. We are asking a diploma your senior year to be enough to do your job to finish your education and doing it online by yourself may feel disheartening – like it isn’t enough. In an ideal world, what would you like to work for?

The motivator doesn’t have to cost money, it could be for privileges every day or purchase power for a new electronic device or exercise equipment down the road. It will be different for different tweens and teens.

We want to help teens to make the connection between the skills and habits they are developing now – like on time assignments and courtesy to real world experience. Even the most studious, intrinsically motivated students might need help with structure.

Unfortunately, “real world” and “new normal” may be too far away or an abstraction for even naturally studious students to stay motivated. Teens may sleep in and struggle to keep a schedule. There is help for helping your teen stay motivated and find balance. You are NOT alone!

Want to grab my free slides with tips on how to survive QuaranTEEN?

Get them here.

You can empower your teen to be organized and motivated online learners, while preserving your connection with them! Here’s some practical help in my QuaranTEEN Back to School slide presentation.

Don’t play the role of assignment police, reach out for support. I did when my teens were facing new school situations after family illness. They left traditional high schools and we used online learning for a time. I needed support during that time and found it! That’s why I’m offering special coaching and mentoring during the pandemic.

I have developed a new service, pandemic teen life coaching with academic motivation guidelines, called QuaranTEEN Back to School Coaching. Part of the program is also an online parent support group for parents dealing with these issues with tips on how to help their teens stay on track.

Visit, https://LauraLReagan.com/services to schedule a Back on Track Assessment Call to explore QuaranTEEN Back to School Coaching.


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