We are all trying our best to educate our children during this unusual time. Many parents have found themselves suddenly in charge of several full-time jobs: their actual full-time job, teaching their children, and managing a full household that has new rules for cleanliness and behavior. It’s stressful and at times overwhelming. However, the task of helping our children learn from home becomes unmanageable when children are not willing to  work. With optional participation and often no grades, many parents are finding it more difficult than ever to get kids motivated to participate in their education. Parents are tired. They are tired of nagging, bribing, and tricking their kids into doing work. As a result, the question I am hearing a lot is, if children are not motivated, what can we do? Often, when we see our kids experience difficulty, struggle or frustration, we want to do something to protect them. Out of this desire to help our children not experience pain, we tend to react in three possible ways.

Swoop in and Save

This first response gives up by excusing the child entirely from the situation, making excuses, or removing the frustration for the child. It looks like a parent buying velcro shoes when a child is having difficulty learning to tie shoes or switching a child’s teacher because the child did not get the teacher they wanted. This response says, “school is over” when it becomes too frustrating to learn from home or “you don’t have to do that” when an assignment is too difficult. Parents often respond this way because they are feeling overwhelmed and they see that their child is also feeling stressed. Since it hurts us to see our kids hurting and we don’t want to see them fail, we clear the way. 

However, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. While it seems important to allow time and space for children and adults to process their emotions during difficult times, it doesn’t feel right to tell children that when something becomes difficult we stop doing it. Currently, although school may look different, it is important that the routine of school continue in some way. This helps to maintain normalcy, which is beneficial in coping with change. 

It is important that our children understand that they can do hard things. When we excuse them from facing their own challenges it unintentionally sends the message, “You can’t do this, let me get you out of it.” If we make excuses or find ways to take the frustration away from the child, we also take away the opportunity for learning. Not only does the child miss out on learning the skill, they also fail to learn the coping skills necessary to persist in spite of stressors and difficulty. If we develop a pattern of reacting this way, we will see our kids shut down, check out, or stop showing up any time that they experience a challenge. 

Hover, Micromanage, Takeover

The second response is to take over and attempt to control every aspect of a child’s education. In this response, the parent is hovering, checking, and probably doing most of the work. We do this because we feel out of control or perhaps we are frustrated with the pace or method our child is using to complete a task. However, responding this way leaves us exhausted, and it leaves our kids feeling burned out too. We are working so hard but our kids still seem to lack the energy and resolve to face their own challenges. 

This response doesn’t work in the long-term because when kids are micro-managed, they do not have the opportunity to develop the self-regulatory skills that allow them to succeed on their own. If we want our children to become independent, self- sufficient, and self-motivated adults one day, we can not take over their problems. As adults, it is helpful to remember that a task that is easy for us often consists of many learned skills linked together. Therefore, it may be more difficult for a child. We have gained the ability over time to navigate the world in the way that we do. Children, on the other hand, are still developing their skills. Doing a task for a child takes away their opportunity to learn to do it themselves. When we take over, it unintentionally sends the message, “You can’t do this, let me do it.” Our kids learn to look to someone else to solve their problems instead of looking to themselves. When they experience difficulty, they feel helpless and need someone else to provide them with a solution, plan, or checklist. 

Bridge the Gap or Provide a Temporary Scaffold of Support

It is impossible to save our children from experiencing pain or stress and it is not our job to do everything for our children. So, what can we do? As parents, we can be the bridge that makes a transition possible or the scaffold that allows growth in spite of difficulty. We can be there with our children, not to save them or attempt to do life for them, but to encourage them as they learn to navigate challenges themselves. We have to show them that their actions lead to outcomes. This is called self-efficacy. Children need to understand that they are not working for grades, bribes, or money.They are working because the work that they are doing helps them to learn and grow and contributes to the betterment of not just them but others (the family or society). 

In order to begin to teach self-efficacy and resilience, when things are new and difficult, we need to show our kids how to take small steps towards their larger goals. If your child is feeling overwhelmed, instead of giving up, think about how you can modify what you are doing to make it more doable and less stressful. If you are currently doing most of the work for your child, think about a small task that you can turn over to them and teach them to do themselves. Ask yourself: “What small steps can I support my child in taking today?” Maybe it will be figuring out how to sign into Google Classroom. Maybe it will be looking at the tasks that need to be done and deciding on one task that is manageable to complete today. Maybe it will be sitting with your child while they make a to do list for the day or schedule for the week. And if they fail occasionally, which is inevitable, it also means being there to offer the support and the encouragement necessary to try again. Through our response, we can teach our kids that facing challenges and even occasional failure does not have to be debilitating but instead presents an opportunity for learning and growth. 

Tune in to our weekly live broadcast on Youtube to find out how to take baby steps to help your child increase their motivation and engagement in school. 

 

~Nina

Click below to watch my weekly live update:

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Co-Owner and Director of Education

Proud mom of two adorable girls. Teacher who has developed an education business that started at a kitchen table and has grown into a thriving small business... Click here to Learn more about Nina.

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Parrish Learning Zone helped my daughter with on-line SAT and college essay preparation. She not only scored in the top 90 percentile on the SAT after working with Lauren Cannavo, she especially benefited from the tutoring she received for her admission essays. My daughter was accepted at Notre Dame, UVA, William and Mary, and received scholarships to George Washington University and the University of Alabama. She was initially deferred at the University of Chicago and waitlisted at University of Michigan and Emory University. She eventually chose not to remain on the waitlists and committed to UVA.Lauren also advised our daughter regarding her submission of a 20 page essay on community service for DECA, a high school business club. Our daughter, along with her partner, won second place in her category at the DECA state competitions in 2019 and 2020, and received second place at the DECA international competition in 2019.Lauren was not only a top-notch professional, she really cared about our daughter and was so pleased about her accomplishments. We are so very grateful to her and Parrish Learning Zone.
Marijayne Kruus
Marijayne Kruus
2020-05-11T21:51:37+0000
love the owner. love the detailed feedback. love the attentiveness of the tutor. love Parrish!!!
Jessica Bartels
Jessica Bartels
2019-02-26T22:49:55+0000
My daughter has a math learning disability and hated math. We started working with Nina Parrish and stuck with it for several months. Her grades have improved, but more importantly, so has her self confidence. She now loves going to work on math and will even work on it at home by herself. We are grateful for Parrish Learning Zone!
Laura Ivey Ellis
Laura Ivey Ellis
2018-12-14T14:36:43+0000
Mr. Chaves is an extremely gifted chemistry teacher. It's such a difficult subject--my son was drowning by the time we found PLZ. This was truly a last ditch effort on our part. Mr. Chaves was able to turn that ship around after only 4 lessons and my son passed the SOL! He was able to distill difficult concepts in a way that made them comprehensible and he was patient and kind and gave my son the confidence to succeed. His actual eacher expressed surprise and made a point of telling him he didn't know how he did it but he was impressed. It takes a gifted teacher to get results like that.I only wish we'd found PLZ and Mr. Chaves in the beginning of the school year.
Wendy Zelazny
Wendy Zelazny
2018-06-08T02:05:15+0000
Highly Recommend
Anne Kater Reeves
Anne Kater Reeves
2018-06-07T22:46:05+0000
I highly recommend Parrish Learning Zone. My daughter was able to achieve the SAT score she was aiming for with the help of her Math (Mr. James Slane) and English (Mrs. Lauren Cannavo) tutors. Not only did they help her with practice tests but they also boosted her confidence in taking the SAT. The owners (Nina and Jay) were always prompt in answering my emails. They are very accommodating and worked around my daughter’s schedule (thank you Shiela for all your help in finding available dates for my daughter to meet with her tutors). Thank you Parrish Learning Zone for helping my daughter achieve her goal!
Beth Yankovich
Beth Yankovich
2018-03-23T20:29:18+0000
Awesome! Very structured and student focused - they identified the areas of weakness and turned those into areas of strength in a very short amount of time. I loved the communication from the tutor and the company. I received a specific report of my child's tutoring session including improvements and areas that needed continued work. I received reminders of upcoming tutor sessions - which I needed!! I felt the individual attention and service was worth every penny AND found the prices to be much more reasonable that other tutors in the area. I would HIGHLY recommend Parrish Learning Zone to any parent that needs to find highly competent tutoring help for their child. Parrish is simply the best!
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
2017-03-14T15:53:50+0000
An excellent place to take your kids for any tutoring needs! PLZ is a very personalized and hands on service! Both of my teenage boys have been through here for various reasons and I know we will continue to make use of them!
Tammy Elms Mosco
Tammy Elms Mosco
2016-06-02T12:20:59+0000
Masiel Dubois
Masiel Dubois
2015-06-23T22:16:01+0000
SAT Prep Course with Parish Learning is definitely a worthwhile invest !!...My son's scores improved over 200 plus points!!
Janice Boles
Janice Boles
2014-12-02T22:34:32+0000
I am extremely thankful to Parrish Learning Zone. I have a son that is a freshman in college majoring in mechanical engineering. I am so glad that we found out about the Parrish Learning Zone because they were very caring and really worked hard around my sons high school football schedule to ensure that he received all of the needed instruction in order to do well on the SAT testing. It was a great investment for his future. I believe this experience prepared my son for the transition to college life. He was able to attend a top engineering college and to play football there. My daughter is a senior in high school now and was admitted into two of the top ranked public schools in Virginia. She will be a freshman at one of these schools next year. She also was enrolled in the Parrish Learning Zone for preparation for the SAT. I am again thankful to the Parrish Learning Zone and feel that this was a great long term investment into their futures. I would strongly recommend the Parrish Learning Zone to anyone looking for an environment that offers a caring and knowledgeable approach to educating students. They are the best.
Angela Jackson
Angela Jackson
2014-05-15T00:39:39+0000
Andrew Powers
Andrew Powers
2014-02-09T12:32:29+0000

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