This podcast ?episode is focused on ONLINE LEARNING and  COMMUNICATING WITH OUR CHILDREN and specifically our role as parents or guardians in our children’s education.

We are very fortunate to have learning strategist & parenting coach Kimberley Acres with us for this episode.  Kimberley is a career educator who has worked with students around the globe, be it in the classroom, at the rink, in sports fields, or online!  Currently Kimberley works with students as a Virtual / Online Learning Coach to bridge the gap from the classroom to the Learn at Home model.

Kimberley Acres and Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
Kimberley Acres and me during our Zoom Interview for Talk About Talk

As you’ll hear in the podcast, Kimberly is very positive and inspiring with her parenting advice.  Here are 5 real, actionable general parenting suggestions from Kimberley: 
  1. Validation. Regardless of our child’s age, we should encourage them and celebrate.  Remember: validation is about effort. Praise is about outcome. This relates to intrinsic versus extrinsic rewards. When it comes to extrinsic rewards (like cash for goals scored or grades achieved), Kimberley encourages us to consider: who are those rewards really for? 
  2. Hold space. Silence is uncomfortable, but don’t feel obliged to fill the silence. Listen for what isn’t being said.
  3. Friends. Listen to what your children tell you about their friends, and also to what their friends are saying.  The implicit messages here can be golden
  4. Admit when you’re wrong.  Apologizing to your child demonstrates respect for them. It also models vulnerability, which then gives our children license to be vulnerable.
  5. Ask permission to discuss important topics with your child. You probably don’t want to have the conversation when they’re busy or stressed-out. Asking permission also implicitly communicates a level of respect that your child will appreciate.
Kimberley Acres parenting coach
Thank you, Kimberley!

Enjoy the podcast

Parenting Strategies

In the podcast Kimberley Acres offers several general parenting philosophies or strategies that are worth thinking about.  Here are three:

parent and child walking
image: Unsplash @souvenirpixels 

1️⃣ Parents need to let themselves off the hook! 

Ultimately, our children’s education is their education. They need to own their own education and to own their own learning. (Hmm…)

2️⃣Children go through stages as they mature: 

  • When they’re young, children look for role models. They mimic the behaviors of those around them. (So be careful!)
  • As children grow, they start to demand autonomy. They seek independence, privacy, and secrecy in what they’re doing – and with whom. (No kidding! ?)
  • Kimberley encourages us to consider it a privilege to be able to come along for the ride, especially when our kids are teenagers!

3️⃣ As a family, we share values. But…

…But we can’t insist our children accept all of these values. We can discuss and model values, but it’s up to the child to accept them. (True!)
The Journey of the Heroic Parent Book

Overall, Kimberley discourages us from thinking about our parenting mistakes. 

Instead, consider the words of Brad Reedy, author of The Journey of the Heroic Parent: there’s no way you’re going to avoid screwing up as a parent, you will make mistakes ? – even big ones, and that’s okay. 

Kimberley encourages us to celebrate
and to be learners ourselves.

I like that!

The TREE Metaphor

tree metaphor
image: Unsplash @photoversum

Consider the TREE metaphor for your child’s education:
  • Formal education is what helps the tree grow up, vertically.  Family upbringing and other experiences are what help the tree branch out, horizontally.
  • Formal education provide the trunk of the tree, from pre-school to post-secondary education.
  • Parents and guardians provide the nourishment with sunlight, oxygen and nutrients in the soil.
  • Parents and guardians also expose their children to different life experiences which grow new branches in the metaphorical tree.  Importantly, this does not require a specific lifestyle, it just requires creativity, curiosity, and intuition.


Kimberley offers several helpful and actionable suggestions for how to help our children with their new online learning: 
online learning virtual learning
image: Unsplash @anniespratt

Keep it light

This is a unique learning experience for all of us.  (Probably your first pandemic, right? ?)  Ask your child and ask yourself: what’s the story that you want to tell yourself about this Covid-19 experience after it is over?  No matter what, this is a great opportunity for kids to learn new skills. Online learning skills will help them forever! So generally, keep it positive. Bring a lightness to this learning.

Set boundaries.

The boundary might be bedtime, or time-limits on gaming, or household tasks.  Yes, we need to celebrate, but we should also set clear and consistent boundaries. Then whatever the boundary is, most of the time, kids will be respectful.
online learning at home
image: Unsplash @anniespratt

Ask your child: What are your STUDENT STRENGTHS? 

This is something we want our older teenagers (grade 11 and 12) to grasp. We want them to be able to identify and state “I’ve learned the best when I’m doing these things.” Learning is easier when we know and leverage our student strengths. 
  1. Is it being able to focus when it’s quiet?  That’s good to know.  Let’s make sure there are no distractions so you can really focus.
  2. Is it working fast? That’s a great student strength.  Then you have lots of time to double check your work.
  3. Is it your practice? Like when you shoot hoops every day and your game improves?  Or when you do math exercises every day you do well in tests?

Encourage children to customize their online learning environment.

Start with their online learning workspace (which desk or table? which chair? on what device? in which room?) COOL POINTER from Kimberley: Ask your child to send you a photo of their online learning workspace (and also of where they keep their phone) when they’re doing their online learning.  This encourages students to think carefully about their physical work environment, which impacts the quality of their work. Then there’s also what they’re wearing. Kimberley suggested that we encourage our children to wear their favourite team’s sports jersey when they’re doing their online learning!
Andrea studying in her Raptors jersey
Andrea studying in her Raptors jersey!

Are You Getting the THEME Here?

image: Unsplash @oskarssylwan


According to Kimberley, we as parents should seek to keep it light during this unprecedented Covid-19 experience.  Keep it positive. Children are doing the best they can. When we observe their efforts, validate them. Look at this as an opportunity and CELEBRATE!

I hope you enjoy the podcast!  Here’s a link to the SHOWNOTES & TRANSCRIPT, where you can find a two-page summary of Kimberley’s advice. Please let me know if you try any of Kimberley’s suggestions.  I’d love ❤️ to hear how it goes!

Have a great week and Stay Safe! 

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