Why Are Some Kids Thriving During Distance Learning?


Every time the topic of remote learning comes up, I brace myself. I am never 100% sure what is going to surface. It’s either; my kids hate it, they miss their friends, they are depressed, they stay in their rooms, their grades are awful, they aren’t the same. It’s a rare occasions that I hear; my kids love it, they are thriving, their grades have never been better, they are so happy because they don’t have to face the kid who bullies them.

Which camp do you fall into? Camp Deprive or Camp Thrive? Camp Crappy or Camp Happy?

Our house is Camp Thrive and Camp Happy

Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to withdraw them from school and begin homeschooling, but the past year has been a reset for them and for our family. Both of my kids have pretty high anxiety levels when it comes to crowds, group work, presenting in front of peers, and change. And yes, I realize when they go back to campus in the fall (fingers crossed) there will be some rough patches and high levels of anxiety, but fortunately, we are also Camp Psychiatrist and they will have tools to help them navigate it.

In the meantime, my son actually spends more time out of his room than he has in years. He has set some personal boundaries that work for him (his bedroom is school and sleep). When he needs to socialize, he comes and hangs with us – and considering he is 14, I’ll take it. He is also not complaining of stomach aches when it comes to certain kids in his middle school that he felt were picking on him. Middle school sucks.

My 16 year old daughter stays in her room most of the time, but she was already doing that (Hibernating Teens: What to Do When Kids Won’t Leave Their Rooms).  School is not her thing no matter what so there hasn’t been a huge improvement in her grades, but social-emotionally, she is thriving. She has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and fortunately for her, maybe unfortunately for her teachers, I was a teacher and school administrator and have advocated for accommodations and schedule changes that help her succeed during remote learning.

Like some of the children in this NPR article, my daughter has ADHD. Being home allows her to have two monitors, she can doodle and draw until her heart is content (which she used to get called out for all of the time), and she can stand up and move around when she finds she needs to refocus.

We have had our issues (not keeping the camera on, maybe too distracted with other technology, rolling out of bed in time for class, lack of motivation at times) and I am not in denial that we will have some adjustments when they are back on campus. But I am pretty sure almost all kids will. It is not a competition to see who will be “back to normal” the fastest. As my momma said “normal is just a setting on the dryer.” If we are looking for “normal” then maybe we haven’t learned anything over the last year.



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Tracy is the Director of Programming and Partnerships for Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. She grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education, in non-profits and in ed tech. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to two trans teens who are just beginning their journey. Self-care includes pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family. She also serves as Chair of the Board for the Attachment and Trauma Network, a national non-profit.


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