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Thoughts On Improving At-Home Learning

To say that this school year has been radically different from any previous year would be the epitome of an understatement. No one could have anticipated that nearly every school in the United States would immediately suspend the remainder of the semester and begin to make plans for how they might host virtual learning courses for subsequent semesters. The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to rethink the way that they operate, and it made millions of households consider how they would function given the circumstances. We must consider the implications of where we are now and the long-term effects that this will have on the learning process.


Engagement Becomes an Issue

It is a troubling fact that students are not as engaged when offered virtual learning options compared to traditional learning in the classroom. It is frustrating for many students (and their parents and teachers) to try to receive information via a virtual format. The issues are multi-layered, but they often boil down to some frequently mentioned complaints:

Technology Issues are Commonplace

It is not at all uncommon for individuals to experience technology issues while attempting to learn virtually. Workplaces and schoolhouses alike have had to adopt virtual technologies all at once, and there is certainly a learning curve when it comes to operating these technologies. There have also been issues with the technology providers themselves that have caused outages for their entire user base for several hours.

Home can be Unusually Distracting

A home environment may be cozy, comfortable, and familiar, but it can also be a place where distractions pop up continuously. This is true for adults and children alike, but children in particular may find it hard to focus when so many of their favorite creature comforts are so easily accessible to them.

Asking Questions Proves Challenging

Some students find it incredibly challenging to ask questions even in a traditional school environment. Many more have difficulty speaking up when they are in a virtual classroom. The problem is that they can feel the eyeballs of all of their classmates on them all at once. It is intimidating, and it can leave many students silent when they need to ask questions to gain understanding of the subject being presented to them.

Increase Engagement by Reducing Isolation

Already strapped with all the challenges mentioned above, parents of students with ADHD have an even tougher road ahead. It is so important that they understand some ways to work towards better outcomes. It takes cooperation from all parties involved to get the desired outcome. This means that instructors in particular need to craft their lessons in such a way that they are naturally engaging. Instructors should structure their classroom in a way so that students don't feel like they are adrift at sea in the classroom.

Isolation is a feeling that has crept up on many of us during these long months away from our typical social activities. Human beings are very much social creatures, and the fact that we have not been able to get out and move about the world in the same fashion as we always have before has led many to experience increased feelings of isolation. That feeling can plummet engagement and can have extremely adverse impacts on someone with ADHD. As such, instructors need to focus on preventing this feeling as a major objective of their lesson plan.

Focus on Mediums and Methods of Learning

It has frequently been said that all people are designed to learn a bit differently. People don't always neatly fall into a particular bucket, but we often describe people as visual learners, auditory learners, hands-on learners, etc. These are not perfect descriptions, but they try to convey the mediums through which learning may occur. ADDitude Magazine, a periodical specifically targeted at helping to explain and explore the ADHD mind, has posed the suggestion that many students with ADHD may best learn through audio experiences. The magazine said the following:

For students with ADHD and language processing challenges, reading can be a slog. Audiobooks are effective in engaging struggling readers and getting them over their reluctance to start. The actors reading the text do a fantastic job (usually) to bring the copy, characters, and narration alive.
Ezra Werb, M.Ed. Ezra Werb, M.Ed.

Considering the fact that so much of the school day is centered around visual learning on the screen, some students may find themselves burnt out of trying to learn this way and may crave a different medium for learning. It is perfectly reasonable for a parent of a student with ADHD to suggest to the instructor that at least some portion of the learning process be done via audio. Other students (both those with ADHD and those without) may also find this experience enriching and helpful.

Foster a Sense of Unity

A final recommendation that is helpful for everyone is to try to foster a sense of community and togetherness. Society is facing tremendous challenges right now from health and financial concerns to worries about the uncertainty of the future. We are plagued by political divides and troubled by headlines that relentlessly beat down on us day after day. The only way that we can possibly pull through all of this is to work together to find common solutions to our problems and to understand that we are all coming from a place of confusion, frustration, anger, sadness, and hurt right now.

No one asked to be in the virtual learning situation we are currently in, but this is where we are. The best thing that we can do at this moment is try to avoid adding additional strife where there doesn't need to be any. Have patience with your fellow human being and try your best to make this learning experience as engaging and interesting as it can possibly be.

If you are looking for more information on how to handle the struggles we face today and make things better for your child, please contact us; we specialize in making education better for students with ADHD.

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