Tutoring

How to help your child transition to in-person learning

Published:
August 2021
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Parenting
Education

A year ago, when we all counted the days until the lockdown was to finally over, we never guessed that returning to normalcy would feel so... -well, scary. 

This past summer, many parents and teachers felt the fall semester heading toward them like an oncoming train: Terrified that their own struggles with remote learning had left their children and students poorly equipped for the sudden return to in-person classrooms.

To make the adjustment smoother—both for you for your child—here are five steps you can take to help manage the transition to in-person learning.



1. Take your time.

You will not be able to change gears overnight. Don’t even try. Instead, think of the summer as one long on-ramp back to the semester, where we gradually build up momentum before merging onto the highway. 

Since most parents and teachers took the leap into distance learning without any warning whatsoever in March 2020, you might have forgotten that using new tools doesn’t always need to feel like emergency triage. Make it a habit to sneak in bits of learning here and there—and maybe even have some fun in the process.

Take baby steps. Logging even five minutes of experimentation a day will leave you with a treasure chest of tools that you can rely on for the rest of the year.

You can help combat summer learning loss by trying online games, or augment reading lists with books that use humor to revive your child’s “can-do” attitude. Try new things, throw out what they dislike, and double down on the types of activities they seem to naturally enjoy the most.


2. Take comfort in your instincts.

Parents and teachers can—and should—take advantage of the excellent research being published daily regarding the mental health concerns of children. However, don’t be surprised if the message boils down to this: “Pay attention. Ask how they are doing. Get help when needed. Brush it off when it’s not.” 

It seems plausible that a year of “laboratory-level observation” may have simply increased parents’ awareness of what might be normal everyday stresses, rather than children actually processing stress differently than before the pandemic. Similarly, teachers, forced to embrace different assignments and learning modalities, might have a slightly skewed notion of how individual students are progressing.

Tears will always shed over pop quizzes, learning hiccups, and other rites of academic passage. Not every emotional response to learning is indicative of a problem. Remember: You are the best judge of what is normal, and what requires attention.

In other words, trust the relationship you’ve always had with your children and students; your instincts are the most reliable indicator of what they truly need. Rely on your gut when assessing their moods, and be careful not to project your own adult anxieties on them.

3. Take a lesson from children when it comes to change.

Don’t forget how dynamic the learning process can actually be for children. Kids are much less rigid than adults in their mindsets, and they’re already accustomed to everything changing year to year: their friends, their homeroom, even their physical bodies. Sometimes,  it’s actually parents who find these seismic transitions unnatural.

Change—within reason—can and should be a normal part of all of our lives. This cyclic state of discomfort, referred to as cognitive dissonance by psychologists, is actually a requirement of learning for all people, young and old. It’s also a state of being that many adults are exceptional at avoiding. Use this time as an opportunity to get curious about how your own fears about the pandemic might have shaped your behaviors, and perhaps identify unhelpful coping patterns that may have emerged over the last year.

You might even recruit your children and students to help correct any questionable habits acquired during the pandemic. Children often love to exercise this kind of authority with adults; for example, by asking them to be your “personal trainer” and make sure you rack up 10,000 steps a day, both of you become partners in the learning process.



Don’t forget how dynamic the learning process can actually be for children. Kids are much less rigid than adults in their mindsets, and they’re already accustomed to everything changing year to year: their friends, their homeroom, even their physical bodies. Sometimes,  it’s actually parents who find these seismic transitions unnatural.

4. Take stock... -and 5. Take action.

Although a year serving as their child’s unofficial homeroom teacher might have left you feeling otherwise, you aren’t actually expected to know all the answers. This is an area where tutoring services such as Remind may come into play. Tutoring is certainly an investment, but very little is more effective at diagnosing learning issues and empowering students than sessions dedicated to personalized instruction. 

As you might go to a nurse practitioner with medical symptoms or a mechanic when your car is on the fritz, consider tutors your go-to professionals to help identify activities your child may need in order to feel more confident. Teachers might also consider keeping a list of referrals to pass onto parents if a student is veering off-course. 

An experienced tutor can probably identify more about a child’s learning style in a single session than even the best classroom teacher can in a large group setting over months. Tutors are also capable of personalizing learning strategies in a way that respects a child’s unique temperament and teaches them to capitalize on their strengths, rather than avoid their weaknesses. 

Finally, remember that even though the world continues to change daily, the pandemic has reminded us of one unassailable truth: Parents, teachers, and children are all in this together. So, in the immortal words of Disney’s High School Musical, let's “have some fun.”

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