Tag Archives: distance learning

10 Difficulties With Fall Distance Learning

Currently, approximately 4% of colleges are fully re-opening their doors to in person instruction for the fall semester. For younger students, public school has been variable, and often a hybrid model. While physical safety is paramount, it’s also important to acknowledge that there is an emotional toll for many students. In my practice, what I have most noticed is that assignments are piling up and not being turned in. According to a study conducted during the summer of 2020, over 75% of college students reported feeling more anxiety, stress, or even depression, due to online learning. A similar number of students have noted that they find it difficult to access their instructors between class sessions.

Additional concerns related to online learning:

Time management.
Students have to clock in by a certain time to be counted as present or otherwise tardy. Being at home makes it tempting to stay up late, and sleep deprivation and staying in bed are the norm for many young people during the current time.

Work management.
Many students have difficulty tracking assignments, due dates, and deadlines, online.

Zoom fatigue
The majority of students are muted and have video turned off. Several of my clients play video games and even sleep while attempting to be in class.

Distractibility
Pets, siblings, even parents, working from home, can be very distracting.

Lack of social interaction
In class, having your peers present with you makes it an experience that is much more supportive and positive.

Covid factors
While experiencing stress, anxiety related to health, or difficulty with social distancing, the majority of students have reported that these factors are not taken into consideration by their instructors or educational institutions. For example, a young woman reported that deadlines have to be met, no matter what the extraneous circumstances.

Lack of workspace or Internet availability
A number of students have been unable to get online except for on a cell phone. All of their classroom instruction was done from a cell phone, which is quite challenging. Often, their parents did not know how to access the information that was needed to successfully conduct a school day. Recently, through my practice, I was able to gather a group of volunteers, who helped families set up online learning. For other students, there is lack of space in the home to have a quiet classroom atmosphere. I discourage working from bedrooms because of the distractibility factor, but often there are no other spaces that are available.

Inability to access extracurricular activities
For many students, some of the most enjoyable and positive aspects of school include being in clubs, sports, and after school activities. Many of these have been diminished, which makes it even less palatable to be in school online.

Parental stress
The majority of students do not see their parents at work or experience the work stressors that their parents may go through. With many parents working from home, there is much more exposure to work related stress. One young client reported that her parents are in the home and yet they are never fully present. Conversely, for parents, having to monitor school related activities, while attending to their work responsibilities is very challenging.

Pacing
I strongly encourage my clients to take frequent breaks to stretch, move around the room, and eat snacks. The average attention span is 45 minutes or less, and lengthy online classes are often taxing and exhausting.

Distance learning tips for students

A few distance learning tips for students:

Identify a study space
Identifying a consistent study space in your home. A study space does not always need to be a separate room. Oftentimes, a simple table and chair works quite well. Keep in mind, however, that being in your room can make it tempting to engage in other activities. Completing your classroom work and homework in the same place each time creates a focused thinking habit that allows you to more quickly settle into the work that needs to be done. It also signals to other people in your home that you are in work mode.

Keep to your class schedule, even when you are home
If you were attending an in person study group or regularly met with a teacher in a classroom, continue to do your work at those same times. You have already established a routine and one of the best things you can with distance learning is to keep that routine. It is important to keep that time free from other personal obligations. Some students just login for the day, and then wander in and out, leading to undesired outcomes.

Use a day planner or calendar
Record ALL: Assignments, tests, quizzes, and projects.
If you have not started using a planner/calendar, now is a very important time to do so. When you’re at home,it’s easy to think you have more time than you actually do.  Phone reminders are not enough. With distance learning, time may appear to “fly by” as the semester goes forward. Use a calendar to create weekly lists of assignment due dates and tasks you may need to do to complete those assignments.

Get a tutor or academic coach
For more specific help with breaking up assignments and exam prep into manageable steps, speak to a therapist or executive functioning coach.

Communicate with your family
Changes in school, sports, parents working from home, and shifting event schedules may create a new level of activity in your home. It is completely natural to be a bit uncertain as these changes are underway. One important step is to talk with your family regarding the specific impact on you. What is hard for you, and what are some things that can happen to make things easier to do your work from home? Explain that you need a quiet, uninterrupted space for some time each week to continue to meet your school goals. This should include no interruptions from family animals or younger siblings.

Ask for help
Moving from one style of learning to another does require an adjustment in your study approach. Your teachers are aware of this and will work with you. Make it a habit to touch base by email with all your teachers on a weekly :basis. That way it doesn’t feel strange to do it after school has already been in session for several weeks.

Prepare for the day
Have your materials ready at your workspace. If you were heading to school or the bus stop, you would pack your backpack and make sure you have what you need. Including any written work, notebooks, pens and pencils, calculator, textbooks, etc. I recommend the use of a large notepad so that you can jot down questions as classes proceed. Many people are afraid to use the group chat and don’t want to draw attention. In that case, write down questions as they occur, so that you can email the teacher later to make sure you understood the concept or the assignment.

Keep up your energy level by self-care
It’s been shown that distance-learning is exhausting. Video is usually off, voices are muted, and classes are long. People have trouble focusing. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to know that the best way to refresh your brain is to get up and move around or stretch. Set a kitchen timer or alarm clock to go off every 25 to 30 minutes to remind you to get up and move your body. Also have healthy snacks to keep up your energy at the ready. Do not skip meals, because this creates a brain drain.

Keep up with friends
Many students miss the social aspects of seeing their friends in the cafeteria, in the hallway, or in the classroom. Virtual classrooms do not allow for much interaction. Keep up with a group chat or other friend-based activities so that you feel connected. The social aspects of school are extremely important, in addition to the academic focus.

Set Up family reading or quiet hours
With some teens/children also moving to distance learning, there is an opportunity to create a family study space. For example, consider creating a “family reading hour” where all devices are put away, turned off or silenced. Identify a goal for everyone including yourself. When you are finished, have everyone, including you, share a little bit about what they read or learned in class that day. “Teaching” others helps with memory and understanding of reading material. When the hour is complete, do a shared fun activity (play a game, watch a family favorite TV show, etc.) to reward everyone for meeting their reading goal.

Connect with your school counselor
It’s OK to reach out when you’re having anxiety about distance learning, a specific class, how to turn in assignments, or any other school related issue. Guidance counselors always tell me that they enjoy hearing from students, but with distance-learning, students very rarely reach out.

Work together on a family schedule
I have included one in this post that I personally use with families to break down the day, to make sure there is time proportionally allocated for all activities, and not just academic time.  This can be easily adjusted for each family’s specific needs.

Communication and mental flexibility
Basically, everything in this blog requires fine-tuning as circumstances change. More than ever, our times call for flexing. Having family conversations on all of these topics is the key to success.

Embolden Psychology
Embolden

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

Thank you for contacting us.