Building Positive Conditions for Learning at Home: Strategies and Resources for Families and Caregivers
As we all adjust to the current situation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we create safe, supportive, and engaging spaces for learning at home. Think about these four elements—your readiness and your child’s experience of safety, support, and engagement—like building a house:
As you read through these resources, remember: Every family is different. Everyone’s individual circumstances are different. Everyone brings their unique set of strengths to address life’s challenges. The information we are sharing here is designed to be flexible and adapted in the ways that work best for you.
- Begin with a solid foundation: make sure that YOU are ready to support your child’s academic, social, and emotional learning. First, take care of yourself and make sure you have the capacity to support your child. You are the foundation and everything you do to take care of yourself will strengthen that foundation.
- Next, create a space that is emotionally safe and supportive—just as walls and a roof provide safety and support for a house. Children cannot learn when they are anxious or worried because these emotions trigger the stress response system and that affects working memory, attention, and concentration. Make sure that your child is learning in an emotionally safe space so that your child can tap into the parts of their brain that are responsible for learning.
- Safety goes hand-in-hand with a supportive atmosphere. This means providing the warmth, empathy, and encouragement your child needs as they learn new things in a new setting (at home). As we get used to all the newness—new settings, new technology (or lack thereof), and new experiences—children need reassurance and they need to know that you are there to help them.
- Finally, add in the doors and windows that make learning fun because this will help them stay engaged in their learning. Children are wired to learn and explore, and they often do this by being introduced to new and interesting things. As your child adapts to learning at home, you can encourage your child to use their natural curiosity and creativity by helping them be aware of their own world so what they learn is relevant and meaningful to them.
Remember that each of these elements are really important when building positive conditions for learning at home. The positive conditions that you create will give your child what he or she needs to succeed. In fact, positive conditions for learning will not only help your child with learning at home right now, it will also help everyone in your home no matter what is going on in the world around us.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to add new information, strategies, things to look for (in other words, what you can expect as normal behavior during these stressful times), and resources that have more information. We will also describe developmental differences to be aware of (for example, what this looks like for a younger child compared to a teenager). This information will help you create safe, supportive, and engaging spaces for learning at home, both now and in the future.