Oct 22, 2020

Motivation in an Ever Changing Environment

KCRG aired an interview with Jillian O’Rourke, a special education consultant at Grant Wood Area Education Agency. Jillian discussed with news anchor, Beth Malicki, how parents can help their students adapt to these uncertain times.

What can families do to increase the chances that these children have a good day?
Many students will need time to adapt to their new, ever changing learning environments and may have difficulty staying on task or engaged. “Create clear expectations and routines.” states Jillian, “On a typical school day there are routines for the morning, and that should be emulated for kids who are learning at home.” A student can help prepare for the day when they know what routine and procedures are expected for a “stay home day” vs a “school day”. Parents should consider making a visual calendar for younger students showing them which days are home and which daysMotivation in an ever changing environment are school days.

Parents can also structure each day based on what motivates their child. Jillian suggests “If they’re excited about science, I might schedule reading or a less-preferred activity before science so they have a motivator to finish.” 

Health and Well-being
In order to be an effective learner, it is critically important to make sure a student’s basic needs are met first. “Hunger and tiredness are barriers for any of us” she adds, “and can create obstacles for students who are tackling a day of virtual learning.” On top of that, ensuring emotional health is one of the most important things you can do to prepare your student for academic success. It’s important for parents to keep open communication with their students in order to make sure their needs are addressed.

Communication is Key
As students return to learn in an unpredictable environment, it is important to be open with teachers so they may understand how your student is responding to online learning and help set expectations for participating in the class. Parents are reminded that they are the expert on their child, and teachers are instructional experts. “You can make that bridge between the two by communicating any challenges that surface along the way.” suggests Jillian.

Teachers and Grant Wood AEA staff have been hard at work all summer to meet the ever changing challenges and course changes. Parents and educators are all aligned in their focus on helping children, and two-way communication will be critical.

A recording of Jillian's Interview can be found on KCRG's website.