It’s been a little over a year since the start of the Pandemic and subsequent online learning. Nobody was really prepared for this transition where parents became teachers overnight, helping their children learn at the kitchen table, through a laptop, over a Zoom meeting, and in countless other ways. While there are definitely pros and cons to this new format of education, because it was such a drastic transition, many children have struggled along the way to stay engaged.
Younger children with shorter attention spans were never meant to stare at a computer screen for 8 hours a day and actually learn anything or take any information in. Since we’ve had quite a bit of experience with learning online since last March, we wanted to share a few ways that can help make this unconventional (and often uncomfortable) learning experience better for both you and your child!
1. Integrate breaks
Children (and parents WFH) should all take breaks throughout their day to have a snack, engage in some movement, and take even just a few minutes to disengage for their mental health. Your child may have a schedule laid out by their school, so it’s up to you to make sure that in between classes they step away from the screen and get outside, take a quick nap, or whatever else you think would best support them. Change and unfamiliar things are often scary to children and adults alike, but encouraging your little one to express when they need a break will help them be, and feel, their best educationally and personally.
2. Sit in on their classes
As mentioned above, children (especially younger ones) do not learn best by sitting in front of a computer while a teacher speaks to them for hours, along with 20 of their classmates. Helping your child learn and sitting side-by-side definitely isn’t an option for all parents, however, if it is, or even if you can spend a short amount of time, it will help them to stay focused. If this is something that works with your schedule, try asking your child questions throughout the material to assess what they’re learning and if they have any questions you might be able to answer.
3. Create a learning environment
No matter where you set up your child’s “classroom”, if possible, keep it separate from their bedroom. Differentiating between a space for “work/school” and a space for downtime will be important to their mental health. If you have multiple children of different ages, make sure that their desks are distanced to try and keep distractions at a minimum. Keep all supplies that they might need at arm’s length and if certain objects will help them focus, such as fidget toys, keep those around as well!
4. Set up a reward system
Similar to integrating breaks, sit down with your child and think of some incentives to help keep them motivated and on track. Maybe this looks like getting a special (small) treat once a month if they complete everything they need to academically, or maybe it’s something as simple as going to the park every Friday after class if they stay focused. Whatever you choose, decide on things that your child will enjoy (and will benefit them mentally, physically, emotionally, etc.)
5. Create a checklist
Ask your child’s teacher what’s expected of them while distance learning so everyone’s expectations are clear. From here, create a checklist to help your child remember what they need to accomplish and stay focused on each day, and place it near their desk. If your child is younger, they obviously won’t be able to read this list, but simply going over it each day will serve as a gentle reminder. If they’re feeling “stuck” or frustrated, let them know that you’re there to support them and help in any way you can.
None of us are experts when it comes to helping our kids with online learning but hopefully, these tips will help make the process better and more enjoyable for both you and your little one. If your child isn’t in school yet or is looking for something to supplement their online schooling, BumoBrain offers 100+ live classes for kids ages 6 months – 7 years that cover countless topics in reading, STEM, music, dance, and much more. Learn more about how BumoBrain can help your child develop through this period of online learning and beyond!