Navigating Hybrid Learning by Gianna Alden, M.S.


Fall is upon us, a time of the year when we think about apple picking, the changing leaves, Halloween, and fun harvest activities for families. This year, the fall also is a time when families are thinking about the continuing changes surrounding in-person, remote, and hybrid learning. All families are facing struggles with our ever-changing learning environments. However, for families of children with ADHD or learning disabilities this can be an especially challenging time for learning.

Children and adolescents with ADHD are facing such risk factors as social isolation, motivation problems, and difficulties engaging. A few reasons for these factors are the low-structure involved in online learning, the lack of a regular schedule, the high demand for more self-discipline and self-motivation, and the increased distractions around online learning interactions. Here are a few of the struggles and ways to help increase learning success at home and in school:

• Structure– It is critical for students with ADHD to have structure and routines to follow and clear expectations.
1. Set realistic goals that you know your child can reach.
2. Collaborate with your child so they are involved and invested in the process.
3. Schedule frequent movement breaks such as outdoor time or these fun indoor ideas.

• Plan Ahead for Roadblocks-Talk to your child about strategies that work for them before they tackle a difficult task:
1. What is the easiest part of this task?
2. What is the most difficult part of this task?
3. Which would you like to tackle first?
4. Which strategies are working for you?

• Create Checklists – Many children benefit from visual checklists and planners that allow them to see what is ahead and what they have accomplished.
1. Use paper, a whiteboard, or online versions of lists.
2. Set up time estimates for task completion using timer.
3. Parents can have check-ins at first and then allow more independence.

Good Health– A child’s physical and emotional health are most important for learning success and stress prevention.
1. Take breaks when needed.
2. Include physical activity often.
3. Be patient and supportive.
4. Offer praise!

While these learning struggles are heightened for students with ADHD and Learning Disabilities, they can also affect the learning success of students of all learning abilities. All children and adolescents use Executive Function Skills to navigate successfully through their day. These skills include the ability to organize your physical and mental space, initiate tasks, manage and plan your time, self-regulate, and be flexible.

One dad was having struggles with his young son just two weeks into remote learning. His son moved from kitchen to couch to bedroom to do his remote learning with no focus, organization or motivation. Hence, he was struggling to get his work done and feel successful. For those of you that can relate to this families struggles, here are a few helpful tips to help navigate a more successful school year:

• Organize a remote learning space – This space would include all of the tools your child will need for learning, including a calendar or planner to show when assignments are due and completed.
• Organize your day – Create a schedule that works for you and your child for each day.
• Check in and review- Take time to ask your child how they are doing and if the schedule is working for them.
• Make time for processing- Set time aside at the end of each assignment or online learning session to let things “soak in”.
• Practice!- You may need to go over the process of online learning or keeping a schedule several times with your child until they feel comfortable and confident.

We wish all of our families health and learning success during these challenging times. If you and your child are struggling with hybrid learning , we offer mental health services as well as Executive Function Coaching to support and strengthen your child’s skills and help them to successfully navigate their daily learning environment.