Among the many things the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it showed us that our life can very easily come to a standstill. It also showed us that we can (and must) figure out ways to carry on with our routines. Thanks to technology, everything was made available online, from groceries and medications to workout plans and even education. Children everywhere were suddenly required to learn from home and it wasn’t easy. After all, nothing can replace the experience of a real classroom and being face-to-face with your teacher. So naturally, distance-learning takes some getting used to – for the children and the parents. But since it’s something we have to embrace, here are some tips to help prepare your child for virtual classes or online learning at home. If your child has already been attending classes online this year, these suggestions will help ensure a more successful e-learning experience.
Set up a special spot
If your child is older, they probably already have a dedicated space where they study or do their homework. If so, just make sure the spot is clean and clutter-free during classes. If you have a little one who is starting with online preschool, even if the classes are just some rhymes and concepts, it is important that they have a specific spot for their classes.
It might seem easy to have them attend classes on the bed, but this also makes them get a little too comfortable or a little too restless. If you don’t have a designated area, you can convert any corner into a learning corner. Just remember to clear it up for classes and make sure it’s not the same place where they play or watch TV. For example, if you want them to sit at the dining table for class, remove all other distractions and clutter till classes and schoolwork are done.
Stick to a schedule
With no school bus to pick them up or any time needed to get ready and travel to school, children might feel like sleeping in. This mostly means they wake up just in time for class so they’ll be groggy and not ready to learn and participate. It also sends them the signal that online classes aren’t as important as physical school. Come up with a schedule to ensure the children are up, ready, and fed before class, which also including breaks, exercise or outdoor time, homework (or craft) time, etc. Once the schedule is set and followed, it’ll be easier for everyone.
Without being right under the teacher’s nose, children can easily welcome distractions at home, and let’s face it – there are far more distractions here than in the classroom. Children can glance at their phones, chat with friends, watch videos, check their social media accounts, and even play games while attending class. It might help to keep away some of these devices during class hours and checking in on them from time to time. For younger kids, just limit the distractions around them. Keep their favorite toys out of sight and also the house pet or anything else that might make them lose focus.
Be present -as much as you can
With younger children, a parent needs to be around for obvious reasons – to unmute the call, keep reminding the child to pay attention, etc. While older kids can attend the classes on their own, studies show that children benefit from discussions about class and school-related topics with their parents. When parents show interest, it also makes these classes a priority.
With online learning, children are getting a lot more screen time than they need! This is especially true for children who watch a lot of TV or play video games or spend time online. Vary your child’s TV time according to the hours of class they have. For example, they can watch more TV on weekends or days when they don’t have long classes. Having some form of exercise between classes will also improve their attention and give them the break they need. They can throw the ball around with their sibling or do some stretches. For children in preschool, time online is usually shorter because it might be difficult for them to stay on a task for more than 25 minutes. Some need more breaks than others and while the teachers usually know to include this in their session, you can see that they get up to jump around or just do some breathing exercises in between classes.
We don’t want our children to get the same aches and pains we have from working in front of a computer all day. So, have them follow the same rules that adults are supposed to follow. Tell them to sit with their elbows, knees, and hips all bent at a 90-degree angle. See that their feet are reaching the ground or for younger kids, the feet should be propped up on a firm surface. The screen should be in front of them, about an arm’s length away and at eye level. However, young children don’t usually sit in the same position (or place) for too long. So, if they need to fold their legs, stand up for a while or stretch their legs out in front of them – don’t stop them.
Remember that feeling of your teacher appreciating your work in front of the entire class? Or seeing a gold sticker on your notebook? Well with online classes, a lot of the reassurance and reinforcement has reduced or does not carry the same sense of gratification as it did within a classroom. Consider praising your child after they complete a task or lesson or even answer a question correctly. A simple ‘good job’ or a high five can maintain motivation.
One thing we might not realize (as much) is that our children miss their friends a lot more than the learning and the teachers! Help them stay in touch with friends. Reach out to the other parents and set up regular video calls or video playdates just so the kids feel connected. Older children will want to text their friends but you can encourage occasional video chats as they are the closest thing to meeting in person.
Schedule in some fun!
Although these might be regular school days or weekdays, remember that the children are going through so much. Being indoors and not understanding what’s going on can be really stressful for a small child. Plan movie nights, play games with them, and take walks together.
For online classes for kids to work smoothly and successfully, the teachers need parental guidance. And for the children not to feel stressed and anxious, they need their parents’ support. We hope these tips will help you navigate the world of online learning.