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E-learning and teenagers — it's going to be okay!

Ok, so we are settling into e-learning routines, and it’s becoming so much easier, right? Oh, wait — you are e-learning with a teen??? Nothing involving teenagers gets EASIER!!!

“Schooling” teenagers is a little different. They have independent tendencies, but just when you let your guard down, you receive a message from a teacher saying your high schooler hasn’t logged into biology all week. It’s enough to make you want to reach out and touch them!!! (Don’t do that; you’ve been warned!)

Before we delve into the e-learning equation, an important point to remember is that our teens are also going through a trauma. In the blink of an eye, not only was school life shutdown, SOCIAL life was shutdown. For many teens, that is a real shock. Also keep in mind, teens can at times present themselves as aloof, but they are often more aware than we might realize. They are listening to the news just like parents. Teenagers have questions. Teenagers have anxiety. Take some time to really TALK to your teen and see how they are processing everything. It is amazing how people -- even teens -- respond when they see others are concerned about their feelings and emotions.

That all said, think of e-learning with teenagers as a balancing act. Here are a few points to consider.

1. Come on, you know your kid! If your child wasn’t completing assignments before the pandemic, they most likely won’t miraculously start submitting them now. By the same token, if your kid was self-motivated before COVID-19, they may thrive with this newfound way of learning. Being real about your situation will help set the tone for how you move forward.

2. Make sure your expectations are known. Students of all ages need to understand this is serious; e-learning is not just a time-filler or silly game. In many states (Texas, for example,) the work actually counts!!!

3. Involve your teenager in the plan. Let them weigh-in when it comes to choosing the location for doing work, scheduling, and all aspects of the process, then HOLD THEM

TO IT!!!

4. Step back and give your teen 50 feet. Try not to hover. Give them some space to show you and themselves that they’ve got this!

5. Check in every now and then. It’s not a bad idea, if you have not already done so, to sign up to receive notifications from whatever platform your school uses, like Canvas for example. If you receive a questionable notification, then approach your teen. You’re still the parent. Find out how they’re doing with school, and adjust accordingly.

6. Ask for help. Let’s face it. We’ve forgotten a lot of the material that is currently taught in high school, and even if we remember it, today they probably teach it differently. If you can’t solve that algebraic equation, ask somebody for help -- no judgement! Khan Academy, for example, is a great resource for many subjects, but they have proven themselves lifesavers in the higher-level math courses. If you're a math and science whiz, but writing isn't your thing, consult companies like our very own Write Right University for assistance. The Internet can direct you to other credible sources, but the key is asking or looking for it!

7. Walk away!!!! These wannabe adults will test every ounce of your patience. Sometimes you just have to walk away. Revisit the topic when you’re in a healthier head-space and can address whatever the issue is with calmness and a discerning spirit.

E-learning with teens can be interesting, but if we adjust our mindsets and consider it as tremendous preparation for college, trade school, or any other path beyond grade school, we just might realize unexpected benefits. They are learning how to schedule and manage their time, study more independently, and integrate technology more efficiently. They are learning invaluable lessons in accountability at a time when you as a parent are still close enough to guide them back on course if necessary. And in many cases, they are spending time with siblings and possibly building stronger bonds and relationships with those living under their roofs.

As we all are adjusting to modified ways of living, even when it comes to educating our teenagers, we have to believe it's going to be okay.


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