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By: Laura Johnson, MDS Director of Institutional Advancement // MDS Musings Blog

Amid this pandemic, I am in awe of parents everywhere who now juggle work and their child’s education while at home. My college-aged daughter was home for a few weeks, and I am thankful that she is old enough to be responsible (mostly!) for her online education. We talked about the challenge for students to stay motivated when they aren’t going to class and especially when they can’t see their friends. For her, it has been important to devote a certain time each day to work on class assignments and to take regular breaks between classes and studying. She likes to do small activities – walking, an art project, and of course, binging Netflix! Studying in groups becomes more important in high school and college, so she has used FaceTime to connect and collaborate with other students.

When I asked her what we as parents could do to help with motivation, she said to support kids’ independence and natural initiative. Well, actually she said to leave her alone! That may work for college students, but parents who have younger children really can’t just leave them alone to sink or swim in this new digital learning environment, so I’ll share some suggestions from experts on how to keep your child motivated:

  • Keep routines as close to a normal school day as possible with when to start “class,” breaks, lunch, and homework time. It may help to write out a schedule for the day and week.
  • Understand that we all are enjoying the opportunity to sleep in little more, but keep regular sleep schedules. Too much sleeping is as unhelpful as not enough!
  • Help children manage their time, which is even more challenging without the structure of a typical school day. It is a good time to learn to use a calendar and to break larger assignments into manageable pieces. These skills will serve them well in school and life!
  • Create a space for learning that limits distractions as much as possible understanding that a lot is going on at home now. We are all learning to focus while the dog is barking or a conference call is happening!
  • Allow private time to decompress. We all need alone time!
  • Have screen-free time that can include getting outside, playing games with family, doing chores, or just relaxing. One of the silver linings to this crisis is that we have all reset on what is important – family, friends, and faith – so when we invest time in these areas, we will emerge from this crisis stronger.
  • Encourage safe social connections with peers. The loss of these connections and the ability to participate in life events can be overwhelming and cause feelings of sadness and loneliness. Parents may want to consider relaxing some restrictions on social media use and encourage opportunities for virtual visiting with friends.
  • Stay positive! Help your child understand that our current situation will not last forever, that we are already starting to see improvements in the fight against this virus.

Most importantly, be good to yourself! Everyone is struggling, and we are all doing the best we can during unprecedented and challenging circumstances. There will be good days and bad days. And when we all get back to our regular days, I pray that we have a deeper appreciation for each other.

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Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, and serves students in Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and other surrounding counties. MDS is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.