A Blog from Your Kaiser Permanente Pediatricians in Northern California

Remote Learning Challenges

If your kids are  learning at home, you’ve probably run into a few challenges by now! Many of these can be handled by connecting with their teachers for help. If you’re concerned, don’t wait for the teacher to contact you – reach out to them!

Here are some ideas for helping kids who are distance learning and:

Don’t like Zoom

  • These kids may respond especially well to your reassurance.
  • Check their comfort level. Often Zoom makes kids feel anxious. This is especially true for shy kids. They may feel better if you tape a piece of paper over the computer screen with a cutout area showing just the teacher, blocking the view of other kids and themselves.


  • Check in with their pediatrician to be sure their medication is at the best dose.
  • Start with helping them feel good when they have completed tasks by having them check off a list of goals for each day. Ask each day “What worked well today?” Give them lots of praise when they do focus. They may also respond well to a reward system.
  • Keep rewards specific and given for tasks completed. Agree ahead of time on what rewards will be. Perhaps they get extra time to move and play!

Lots of parents ask how to monitor kids’ use of the computer to limit it to schoolwork. Dr. Matt Holve, a child and adolescent psychiatrist I work with, has suggestions to help. Start off by being very clear with your kids about what they are and are not allowed to do on the computer. Discuss the consequences and let them know ahead of time that you will be regularly checking in – by looking over their shoulder and reviewing the computer’s browsing history.

Dr. Holve offered a few other ideas:

  • Place phones in another room during school hours and at bedtime.
  • Set parental controls on computers to limit access to specific sites.
  • Use parental control applications available through your internet provider, to turn off access to games or other online entertainment at certain hours of the day.

If your child still seems to be “multitasking” on the computer, try to understand why. Are they bored and need more educational attention? Maybe you can work with them to come up with additional research or creative projects. Or are they just neglecting their schoolwork? If so, it might be helpful to monitor their work more closely and check in with their teacher.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on us all – especially kids who thrive on socializing with their friends! Here are some ideas to help:

  • Have your child set up an after-school virtual chat with friends. For younger kids you can help by sending out a standing invitation and planning activities and snacks!
  • Consider heading to a local park for distanced and masked outdoor fun with a group of friends. Skip the germy playground though!
  • Start a monthly online parent-child book group.
  • Understand that some video gaming is quite social and can be a way for our kids to stay connected with their friends.

Even with your love, attention, and planning, some children will still have a hard time with distance learning. Look for these signs to know they are struggling:

  • Decreasing interest in school
  • Declining performance
  • Irritability and refusal to do tasks
  • Decreased sleep, energy and appetite

If you notice any of these signs, contact their teacher and pediatrician for help,

Disclaimer: If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.