Help Your Child Through Communication Challenges in Distant Learning

By American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Frustrated young girl struggling with distance learning

Attending classes and learning remotely is a new normal for our children. This has come with new challenges as your child may struggle to communicate and understand concepts during their sessions.

You may have recognized these three challenges as your child is learning in a virtual setting. Here are tips for improving their success.

CHALLENGE #1: Being Understood.

If your child has trouble pronouncing certain sounds—or stutters—it may be harder to understand them in a virtual classroom.

How to Help: Make sure your child’s teacher is aware of this challenge and share what supports your child needs. These may include asking a child to repeat what they said, using different words, typing it in the chat, drawing on a whiteboard or using gestures. And encourage the teacher and classmates to tell your child when they don’t understand.

CHALLENGE #2: Understanding.

If you have a child with a language disorder or social communication disorder, they may miss certain cues from the teacher that normally occur in person and aid in comprehension—such as pointing to portions of the text when reading.

How to Help: Share strategies that will give your child’s teacher ways to work through these issues. These may include using caption text, providing additional “wait time” to allow the child to process information or rephrasing messages if the child doesn’t seem to understand. Also, encourage your child to speak up if they don’t understand something and say, “I didn’t get it—say it again, please.”

CHALLENGE #3: Distraction.

All children may be more easily distracted learning at home—by other children on the screen, noises or activities occurring in their own home or the learning platform/technology itself.

How to Help: If possible, set up a comfortable, quiet learning area with proper lighting and reduced screen glare. You should also eliminate technology-based distractions by closing other applications, turning off alerts and covering distracting parts of the screen (e.g., their own image or those of particular classmates) with sticky notes.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

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