3 Tips for Easier Online Learning this School Year

Aug 11, 2020

Some of America’s largest school districts are beginning the 2020 school year with online learning, and many others are incorporating online days into regular school schedules. If the change to online learning was a rough experience for you this last spring, you might be dreading trying to work with your child at home again. Online learning can be a positive experience for parents and kids with the right know-how and some practice. Here are three tips for making online learning easier this school year:


  1. Minimize Distractions

When your child is in the classroom, there are rules about distractions, such as phones, toys, and disruptive behavior. Your child will stay better focused at home if the same sorts of rules are in place. Set up space for your child to do their schoolwork that is away from toys, the T.V., and other people who aren’t sitting quietly at a laptop, but make sure it’s an area where you can supervise them and know if they have a question or are getting off task. If you are working at home, you could set your child up next to you and tell them that you are going to work together. Be sure to tell them how and when you will be available to help them, so they aren’t interrupting your zoom meetings. 


2.Get on a Schedule Scheduling and structure are part of a good learning environment. Most children focus better in the morning, but if your teenager is more focused in the afternoon, it’s fine to adjust things to suit them. Just make sure that your student sits down to learn at the same time every day and has set times for meals, physical activity, and other tasks. Studies have shown that physical activity improves learning for children, especially boys.  Monitor how long your child can focus. For younger children, 5 to 25 minutes might be their limit. In the classroom, teachers often let students take quick “brain breaks” to do jumping jacks or stand up and stretch during instruction time. Your K - 3rd grader might need to do this whenever they lose focus, become anxious, or feel tired. Older children won’t need as many breaks, but they should have some. Consider putting their computer in an elevated position so they can stand while they work.  Schedules are necessary, but they shouldn’t be too rigid. It’s Ok to let your child take longer with a challenging assignment or take a break if they feel overwhelmed. Your schedule might be hectic too, so don’t hesitate to communicate with your child’s teacher and let them know if you are only available on certain days to work on a project with your kids, or if you need to keep your child out of class that day. 


3.Show You Care Students learn better in the classroom and at home when their parents are engaged with their learning. Read with your child, check their work, and discuss your expectations with them. Setting reasonable expectations based on your child's abilities and rewarding them when those expectations are met is the best way to encourage your child to learn.  If you are involved in their education, they will see that school is important. This is especially necessary for at-home learning, as many children might have trouble seeing their onscreen classroom as “real school.” Other children might lose motivation because they don’t see their friends every day. For these students, letting them know that you will arrange a social time if they get their work done can be motivating.  Simple things can go a long way to keep your child engaged. Try putting a sticker on their assignment or a check next to a completed problem.