Learning Flexibility

Photo by Michele Venne

Because my first career choice was education, I’m no stranger to sudden changes in plans and mini-crises popping up throughout the day. As an adult, this is a badge that has been hard won, but I still get to wear it. Students at home when they’re used to being at school can stumble at the sudden change in schedule. Not that they don’t have summer vacation and holiday breaks throughout the year, but shifting from face-to-face learning with a teacher and peers to online learning in isolation can be tough for the most resilient of kids.

Suggestions abound regarding setting up a schedule (whether for students or adults working from home), so there is some sort of predictability to one’s day. There are some students who struggle with unstructured time. On campus, this would be before and after school, lunch, PE, and some electives. They may be able to curtail disruptive or anxious behavior in an academic classroom where the expectations are known, but when left to their own devices they seem to find trouble on a regular basis. The same happens at home during vacations and school breaks.

Because students will look to their caretakers for how to handle situations, it’s important for the adults in the home to also have a schedule or tasks to complete each day. Talking with the adults in the home can ease tensions and worries that students may have about this need for flexibility when what they strive for is predictability. In order to develop skills to deal more positively with uncertainty, allow the student to share their concerns. Help them make contingency plans. Assist the student in setting up their own schedule so they have a sense of control.

I’ve often thought that society moved forward into a space where students were no longer given the opportunity to be creative problem solvers. Perhaps now is their chance to have that time to make decisions and solve problems and be creative in ways that their discarded previous schedules didn’t allow. All species of organisms evolve if they can adapt.