COVID-19: 5 Tips for Online Learners

By Leslie Josel

As an ADHD coach, I’ve been inundated with questions as to how students with LD and ADHD can navigate the online/virtual learning process that is their new normal. Here are a few strategies to try:

  1. Find a body double. A “body double” functions as an anchor. The presence of another individual—either in person or virtually—can help focus your child, making it easier to sit down, be attentive, and get work done. Does your child know other students in her classes? If not, is it possible for the school (with permission) to release names and emails? Sometimes older students taking the same class will form a Facebook group to discuss assignments and tests. Perhaps your child can reach out to someone who might also be in need of a “study buddy” so they can support each other to stay anchored, focused, and on task.
  2. Schedule “class time.” Have your child stay on the same schedule he was on while in school. This step is critical for success. If kids don’t plan their time, the likelihood of keeping up with the work is slim. Think of it this way: If he had to be physically present for class, he would set his alarm and get himself out the door to make sure he showed up on time. An online class needs to be treated with the same rigor. Making these non-negotiable appointments is critical to success.
  3. Write it down. Whether using a paper planner or an online calendar, your child needs to write down her plan the same way she would any other commitment. If she gives her study time the same importance as her other appointments, she will be more likely to honor it in the same way.
  4. Create a motivating work space.Environment plays an important role in how we get things done. Have your child set up her homework area so it entices her to use it! Do fun pens or pretty notepads get her going? Does surrounding herself with colorful objects help her feel energized? Does she have a favorite food to snack on while working? Or does she need her favorite playlist to get in gear? Having to rely on internal motivation can be exhausting, but spicing up the setting can help get that work mojo going.
  5. Reach out to your child’s teachers. If there are accommodations in place, work out how those are going to translate to an online learning environment. Does your child need audio books? Time with his teacher for extra help? Extra time on assignments since he is working alone? The earlier you can work out these details, the better the chances are that your child will succeed.

Most importantly, breathe. Take it day-by-day. Everyone is working to figure out this new normal.

Leslie Josel is the Principal of Order out of Chaos, an organizing consulting firm specializing in student organizing. She is the author of What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management and the creator of the award-winning Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management.

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