Learning in Lockdown: How to motivate your students for another semester of online school

Psychologists say the most successful families are doing these three things

MADISON, Wis.– When local schools first shifted to online learning in 2020, many students, parents, and teachers were caught off-guard. They didn’t know what to expect or how long it would last. But it’s safe to say most families didn’t anticipate it would last this long.

So how do you get your kids excited for another semester online?

Child psychologists say the most successful families are doing three things to keep their kids motivated:

  1. Find an incentive that keeps your kids focused, and use it. Call it a bribe if you want, but psychologists say it is okay to do right now. Tell your kids that if they finish their schoolwork, they’ll earn extra screen time, a special dessert, or the chance to pick a movie for your family to watch. Try to avoid giving them money or toys, which will be hard to maintain financially.
  2. Be flexible, and allow your kids to have a say. Psychologists say that when it comes to at-home learning, the most successful families are usually not the ones who are meticulously scheduled. If your son or daughter wants to ride bikes after lunch and finish their math homework later, let them. Allowing kids to have a say in what they’re doing or when teaches them intrinsic motivation.
  3. Make time for kids to connect with friends. Maybe it’s playing a socially-distanced game of hide & seek, or just a video chat while eating lunch. Kids learn a lot through social interactions, and these interactions will help them feel more normal, too.

You can find more strategies for learning at home from child psychologists at the Cleveland Clinic on their website.

There’s also a lot we can learn from each other, so let us know: What’s working for your family? And what isn’t? Email your questions to clorey@wisctv.com, and we will talk to psychologists, educators, and other parents to get them answered.