Your child might be used to the routine of their regular classroom; changing up this routine could be challenging for them to adjust to.
And if your child already experiences learning difficulties, adjusting to a completely new way of learning, or alternating between two learning environments, can be especially hard on them.
As someone who grew up with learning disabilities, I completely understand how they might struggle when introduced to hybrid learning.
And as someone who has spent many years developing strategies helping kids with learning differences overcome the challenges in their way, I can help!
To find solutions to this problem, first you need to know what hybrid learning is.
As the name suggests, hybrid learning is a combination of face-to-face and online learning, which includes both real-time sessions, and online activities for the students to complete in their own time.
The focus of hybrid learning is to create the best possible learning experience for all students with the resources available.
And while there might be difficulties switching back and forth from a traditional classroom to a virtual classroom, given how young learners like your child are developing in a different way to students twenty or even ten years ago, hybrid learning may actually help your child achieve greater academic success.
Your child is growing up exposed to more technology and all its functionalities than you did when you were still in school.
Their brains have adapted to this technology in a different way – that’s why your kids might be far more tech-savvy than you, and that’s not a bad thing.
It’s because of the universal presence of technology and how central it’s becoming in day-to-day life that hybrid learning seeks to find the best of both worlds.
In other words, hybrid learning aims for the perfect combination of face-to-face and online learning to help your child reach their full potential.
So, now that you know the benefits, let’s take a look at how you can make hybrid learning easier on your LD child!
7 Ways to Make Hybrid Learning Easier on Your LD Child
1. Create the Perfect Study Space
When your child attends classes from home, they are still in class – although they’re in a virtual classroom.
When they’re in school, they have the classroom environment with all the desks facing the projector screen or whiteboard, teacher up front, to help them focus.
At home there is plenty more room for distraction.
Sitting at the dining table or the living room couch or their bed can already break your child’s concentration during class, because their brains don’t associate these places with learning.
So, help them create a space in your home which doubles as their classroom.
Make sure this place is free of distractions – televisions, games, snacks, pets roaming around, etc. and all the other things they wouldn’t have access to in school.
Also make sure that your child gets to class with all the supplies they need.
Match up the subject they’re learning with their notes and textbooks, the stationary they would need, etc.
Just as with a normal classroom, your child might miss out on important material and be too flustered to concentrate if they have to spend time rushing around looking for paper and pencil.
If your child’s concentration is disrupted, it can take up to and over 20 minutes for them to refocus – that’s a big portion of class time lost just trying to prepare for learning.
So, creating a work-friendly study environment for your child’s online study sessions is a big part of hybrid learning.
You might have to shift your child’s desk around, moving it away from windows or to rooms away from the busiest parts of your home.
Make sure that there is a light source in front of the desk, and not behind your child, so when they are attending virtual classrooms, their teachers and classmates can see them clearly through their webcams.
Check with them if the audio is clear and they can hear everything properly.
Also make sure their microphones are working properly, so they can participate in classroom discussions and ask questions, getting the help when they need to.
By making sure everything is working the way it should, you help create an immersive classroom environment for your child which works just like a real-life classroom.
This can help reduce some of the anxiety or confusion your child might feel, trying to get used to the novelty of hybrid learning!
2. Organize Your Study Resources
Keeping track of class materials might already be hard enough for your child.
Keeping track of offline and online materials might be even more overwhelming, especially if your child has trouble with paying attention, organizational skills, or information overload.
This is why it’s necessary for you and your child to work together to create a system of organization to sort all their class materials.
This includes their assigned readings, homework, class notes, quizzes, tests, etc.
For in-person classes, I highly recommend keeping separate binders for separate classes, color-coding them according to subject and using tabs to separate topics.
This simple change to how your child organizes their study material can make all the difference in helping them know exactly where to look for what they need when writing an essay or revising for a test.
Staying organized also helps reduce feelings of overwhelm and anxiety, because your child feels in control of their workload.
By sorting through all their papers, they have a better idea of what they covered, what tests and homework they’ve completed etc. while also making sure no assignment handouts go missing or forgotten.
For virtual classes, your child’s teacher might attach study resources to an online portal all the students can access, or mass-email them to you.
Develop a routine with your child to regularly check these portals and emails before every class session, at specific times and intervals, to make sure none of them slip by you.
You can create online folders on the desktop or device your child is using to attend classes, or on an easily accessible Cloud folder like Google Drive.
These options easily let you create separate folders and sub-folders and organize everything you need in them, so you can locate them speedily.
Using Google Drive or other Cloud-based storage options have the extra benefit of being accessible from anywhere and any device with an internet connection!
A potential challenge your child might face staying organized is becoming overwhelmed, confused or prone to forgetting if they have to keep up with two sets of categorizations – online and offline.
If this is the case, I highly recommend you print out all the textual resources your child’s teachers share, and help your child compile them along with their other materials in their binders.
Having all the information they need in one place helps them stay on top of and feel in control of their workload!
They also don’t risk missing out on important information because they don’t have to keep checking two different sets of resources for hybrid learning classes!
3. Plan a Study Routine
Having a fool-proof plan to refer to makes a huge difference to students who tend to get overwhelmed with information and overlook or forget to keep up with all the things they need to do.
Using a planner, either a big, easily viewable wall-calendar or a digital one, helps your child know exactly what they are supposed to do and when, as I cover in my course The ABCs of Academic Success.
Keeping a large wall-calendar updated with due dates and timetables where both you and your child can easily see it can help draw your attention to any upcoming event you need to know about.
A digital planner is great for kids who might forget to check their planners or calendars, since you can program them to notify your child some time in advance about an approaching deadline.
All of this can be very helpful to keep them on track when they are switching back and forth between face-to-face and online classes.
Typing up or writing down every due date as soon as it’s announced, and having a weekly routine laying out class times and whether it’s online or offline, is a simple but extremely effective way of staying on track.
Your child can tell at one glance when they have classes, how much time they have in between them, when their assignments, tests or homework is due, how much time they have to prepare for them, etc.
For students who experience information overload or academic anxiety, this can be a huge help in tackling their workload without getting confused and feeling overwhelmed about what they need to do.
4. Break Tasks Down into Smaller Tasks
One big difference between traditional classrooms and hybrid learning is that hybrid learning often substitutes a lot of the traditional classroom’s “seat time” with online activities.
This can give your child more control over how they complete school tasks!
Your child’s teachers will often assign tasks they need to complete in their own time in order to spend real-time class sessions focused on the topic of the day.
This means that rather than being stuck in a classroom having to complete a task in a fixed amount of time, even though your child might not work at the same pace as others, with hybrid learning your child will be able to use strategies which work best for them.
One of the best strategies for managing these workloads, which I mention frequently in The ABCs of Academic Success, is chunking or “smashing the task.”
This involves taking an assignment or task and breaking it down into a series of steps or smaller tasks.
If your child was told, in class, to write an essay on the spot about the digestive system or the Wall Street Crash, they might be overwhelmed by the size of the task, sometimes even causing their brains to shut down from how huge and challenging they think it is.
By allowing your kids to tackle these assignments before or after virtual classes, your child has more time to tackle assessments in a more systematic and brain-friendly approach.
They can break up the task into a series of steps – research the topic, come up with a thesis statement, find supporting points, write a draft, edit, etc.
Completing each of these steps one by one helps them not only focus on each component of the assignment in a more organized way, but also keeps them motivated to continue learning!
This is because whenever they complete a task, the reward pathways of their brains are active, increasing levels of something called dopamine.
Dopamine is known as the motivation molecule – it releases when the brain experiences a sense of accomplishment, and your child enjoys that sense of reward so much, they want to continue experiencing it.
It drives them to move on to the next task!
This helps your child not only overcome the anxiety which might shut down their ability to tackle assessments, but also helps them do a more thorough and complete job.
5. Schedule More Breaks
Something else your child will have a lot more control over when more of their schoolwork is remote is scheduling more breaks.
This isn’t just because breaks are fun, and your child finds class boring – breaks are scientifically proven to improve your ability to learn and recall new information.
Hermann Ebbinghaus, a mathematician, created a formula which shows how the longer the gap between the beginning and end of a lesson, the more you are likely to forget.
This is because your child’s working memory – the type of immediate memory they are using when they are actively learning something – is limited.
In other words, if your child’s working memory gets too full, they’re not going to be able to absorb, understand or retain any new information.
On the other hand, taking a short break of just five minutes can help your child’s working memory recharge back to normal.
And when they do take breaks, and their brain is not focused on the material right in front of them, the brain stays active and starts making sense of what’s in their working memory.
It creates associations with what your child already knows, builds new connections between braincells to keep this new knowledge, and this is how working memory gets transferred into long-term memory.
So, help your child break their learning into 20-30 minute sessions, with five minute breaks in between.
Not only does this help your child build long-term memory of their learning, but it also helps your child stay focused, energized and motivated to continue learning!
6. Help Your Child Review
Breaks are one aspect of helping your child commit what they are learning into their long-term memory.
Another aspect of making hybrid learning easier for your child is to make sure they review what they’re learning too.
Remember how information your child learns gets stored in connections between their braincells, or neurons?
Reviewing that same information helps strengthen these connections or neural pathways – and the more you strengthen them, the less likely your child is to forget what they learned.
You read about how the Ebbinghaus curve of forgetting shows that the longer the gap between the beginning and end of the lesson, the more of the middle that gets forgotten.
This happens because when the brain is learning something for a stretch, without making any attempts to recall what it’s learning, it goes beyond the limits of its working memory.
The brain thinks that what your child learned isn’t important, and gets rid of the newly formed, still weak neural connection.
Think about someone telling you their phone number just once.
Would you be able to remember it without help after hearing it just that once?
And even if you did, would be able to remember it twenty minutes later, without writing it down or repeating it to yourself?
That’s exactly how information which your child does not review or attempt to recall can be lost, and why reviewing is so important.
To make sure your child is retaining what they are studying in hybrid learning, schedule regular review sessions into their planners and calendars.
If your child struggles to maintain these or follow the routine by themselves, give them a hand, walking them through it until they develop a habit of it!
7. Match Their Learning to Their Learning Styles
Hybrid learning gives your child the unique opportunity to adjust their learning to their learning preferences, which is something they can’t do in regular classrooms.
Just like each one of your child’s classmates, your child is unique – they have their own personalities, likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and so on.
This also applies to their learning styles or preferences!
As I explain in more detail in The ABCs of Academic Success, your child’s learning style is made up of one or more dominant modalities.
They might be visual learners, who pick up information quickly when it’s in the form of charts, graphs, maps, and process text a lot faster than other modalities.
They might be auditory learners, who learn faster when they are listening to information; so, they might enjoy lectures, audiobooks, podcasts, reading out loud, and so on.
Or, they might be kinesthetic learners, who prefer to engage directly with what they’re learning, and like experiments, games, acting out what they’re learning, moving around as they learn, etc.
In the traditional classroom, visual learners are at an advantage because a lot of the information all students are presented with is in the visual format.
Tests are also mostly written, which comes easier to visual learners – these learners naturally process and recall information faster, because they’re able to convert information into mental images.
Images are several thousand times faster to remember than strings of letters, so visual learners typically find it easier to remember and apply what they’ve learned in written exams.
Hybrid learning provides your kids with the opportunity to match how they learn with their learning styles with more flexibility.
Visual media shared digitally, and textual resources are wonderful learning materials for visual learners.
Recorded instructional videos might be great for auditory learners, along with things like using text readers and audiobooks to get through class readings.
Meanwhile online classroom activities which give every learner equal opportunity to be interactive might engage kinesthetic learners.
Kinesthetic learners might also benefit from being able to take more breaks during offline hybrid learning activities where they can pause the activity, take a break, and return with their focus intact.
They might love moving around while they’re learning – for example, listening to a recorded class on a phone or tablet, which helps them retain what they’re learning better.
Hybrid learning lets your child use a variety of different types of media more flexibly to suit their learning styles.
With these 7 ways to make hybrid learning easier on your LD child, I hope you and your child are fully equipped to enjoy the best of both worlds with online and offline learning.
In my course, I go into many other ways parents can help their children adjust to any new learning environment and overcome their learning differences.
If you wish to sign up for the course, you’ll also be able to have a FREE 15-minute consultation with me face to face, and ask me whatever you’d like about how to make hybrid learning easier for your LD child!
Dana Stahl grew up with a learning disability. With the right help, she resolved it and her superpower is helping your LD child succeed in school, at home or during remote learning.
As an Educational Consultant and Learning Specialist for over 30 years, Dana created an easy-to-follow, step-by-step online course called The ABCs of Academic Success so you can help your child thrive academically! Check it out and get a free 15 minute consultation with Dana too.